I was drawn into a discussion about reading (and writing) genres recently, and it made me think (of course). The line my thoughts wandered off to the most strongly, however, was romance – it’s never been a genre that captivated my attention for long, personally.
(If I am reading a novel that is pure romance, I tend to get bored. Or sometimes the characters just aggravate me. Or I just . . . can’t get caught by the story.)
When I read novels with a romance element, they often need something else happening to keep my attention – that’s a personal thing, not a slight on the genre – so when I do, I tend to read paranormal romance, or mysteries a romantic subplot, etc. The romance can be a heavy part of the plot, but I have to have something else unfolding to tangle out as well. This is almost certainly due to the most common executions of novels in the genre, rather than an artefact of the genre itself.
I am also very, very sensitive to fremdschämen (even/especially on the behalf of fictional characters) and embarrassing or silly situations seem to be something of a staple of the romance genre, unfortunately. If I read a confrontation that makes me want to hide my face and shove the book under a pillow, I may be discouraged from enjoying the story.
All those things might make one think – not unreasonably – that romance doesn’t feature very prominently in my own writing. That assumption would be drastically incorrect – there is almost always at least some thread of love or romance. Sometimes it is close friends, siblings, etc. not always a romantic love, but those kinds of personal interactions draw me as being incredibly interesting (some of the most intense of human emotion and expression bloom from the centre of love).