I am really enjoying Leah Michael's On Writing Romance. I might blog about other gems as I discover them in her book.
Today, I read her list of how to ruin a romantic plot between your hero and heroine. So, if you are writing a novel and want to be sure it is not a romance, just use these simple guidelines:
1. Develop a complex plot or background.
2. Overload the story with too many technical details.
3. Separate your hero and heroine for at least ten pages.
4. Have the hero and heroine talk about each other instead of to each other.
5. Bring in lots of characters.
6. Let everybody think a lot.
I had wondered for a while if my novel fell into a romance sub-genre. I've read my share of romances, and recognized romantic elements in my plot. It starts and ends with romantic scenes. Now, thanks to this little list, I can safely say it's not a romance.
1. I love my complex plot. It trumps the romantic elements of my story, and I like it that way.
2. I love my technical details. The driving force of the story to me is the conceptual metaphors and themes, and they are not about true love or romantic commitment.
3. My hero and heroine are only together for the middle third of the book.
4. They talk about each other much more than to each other. It's a side effect of not being together for most of the story.
5. Lots of characters! Okay, not lots, but the ones I do have get almost as much air time as the hero. My story is more about a small group dynamic than a single relationship.
6. Lots of thinking! Hopefully not too much, but I can safely say my characters think about their romantic potential (or think about not thinking about it in classic neurotic fashion) more than they show it. Another side effect of being separated for so long.
Does this list align with your boundaries of the Romance genre? When a story falls in a gray area, how do you draw the line?