Let’s take moment to compare two similar genres: Love Story vs. Romance. First, we should acknowledge that the Romance genre has its rules, two of them, as stated by the Romance Writers of America (RWA) website:
A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel. An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.
~ Romance Writers of America “About the Romance Genre”
Given the turmoil in today’s world, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to provide in romance novels a source of relief for our readers. The exhausted, wounded spirit can plop down on a soft bed of tender romance and know that all dreams will be sweet and lovely … and when re-energized, the reader can awaken from this fantasy with a smile.
For this reason, I’m proud to be completing my first romance novel, Where You Go, I Go. It’s my contribution to the Better Late Romance series of books now available on Amazon.com (and in several bookstores, too). In this series, the lovers are age 50+, and so their life experiences have taught them to know what they need and value what they find.
In my novel, readers discover the joy when Bonnie meets Roy – a couple destined to fall in love while riding a tandem bicycle. He has heart disease, and she suffers from Parkinson’s. Their kids want to shuffle them off to a home to keep them safe. But Bonnie and Roy have other plans, which start with proving that they’re capable of so much more.
But what about that other genre, the Love Story?
To me, the love story is more about transformation. Where romance tales focus on the courtship and possibilities for a couple, love stories delve into the growth of individuals who are transformed by their experiences with love. For examples of this, read almost any Nicholas Sparks novel.
Sparks has been whimsically accused of mass murder, since a main character usually dies in one of his tales. But when framing a love story, good writers seek to find the most powerful way that one life can affect another. How can the memory of their love create a positive transformation in the main character? What do they learn? Heightening the dramatic effect with a death -- usually through accident or illness -- amplifies the impact of that person’s life on the hero. And, of course, you can have tragic love stories. Stories like this attract me for the resonant emotional tone that finds a home in the reader's heart. Does it carry sadness? Often yes, but with that you might also discover a sense of renewal.
There will likely be some argument among writers about this post. After all, couldn't you say that a refreshed approach to life might qualify as emotionally satisfying and optimistic? Well, yes, for the main character. Not so much for the romantic interest. As a result, in Where You Go, I Go, my characters enjoy the rewards of emotional justice and unconditional love. How the happy ending happens is in the game.
So, which genre should I choose for my own writing? How about both? After all, my works are eclectic. That means, you'll be seeing some love stories from me in the future.