I have read a book recently that has made me completely reconsider my thoughts on the "romance" genre. Well okay, not completely, but enough to feel like it. (Sorry for the late post... My internet kicked out partway through writing this post on Tuesday so guess what didn't get posted Wednesday...)
Romance is essentially about relationships. It's traditionally about a guy and a girl because that's traditional romance and curiously enough while I'm sure there are other types out there it's not been until more recently that those things are explored (take 50 shades for instance, though technically it's still about a guy and a girl...).
Life is also about relationships. The ones we have, the ones we want, the ones we don't understand and the ones we think we understand too much about. So that explains to me more clearly then why Romance has been and will likely continue to be such a popular genre.
The only problem I have about the whole "romance" genre is that in every book I've read so far (and please excuse the generalization as I have by no means read the WHOLE genre), it's always about the beginning. That first flush of a crush or that gut wrenching pull of lust that makes you want to get to know another person. (Don't pretend, at least some of them are way more about satisfying lust than meeting a love.)
Why is it that we believe once we have anything more permanent, like say marriage, romance is dead? Is it just that the initial flush is the fun part with lots of conflict so the rest is a lot harder to write? Or is 'romance' the way we see it literally ONLY the first part of the relationship?
If that's so wow. Romance is a really narrow genre for something that is so incredibly popular. But maybe that makes sense. With certain publishing houses taking such a strict view on what makes a romance it was going to go one of two ways, either it would remain very strict or it would bust out of its restrictions, but it seems to be happy with its walls.
There's a little change in terms of bleed over into different genres (fantasy or sci-fi for instance make great carriers for expanding the story outside of just the girl and boy), but it's easy to tell a "romance" story vs a "fantasy" story in what seems like 90% of the books that I have come across that contain both. If the story focuses heavily on the relationship between boy and girl? Yeah, it's a romance set in a fantasy setting. If it focuses on the events going on around the boy and girl? It's a fantasy with possible romantic elements, but really, it's just a fantasy because that's what we call it.
Romance is that peculiar blend between what we want for our romances and the genuine reflection of what goes on in some people's lives. Not everyone's sadly, but some and it maybe serves to give hope for those that don't quite have it or inspiration to people that want it.
All in all I would never have expected it when I was younger, but Romance teaches us just as much as any type of story, it just depends on what you want to learn about. In this case? Relationships. I wonder when the genre will officially spiral out of their traditional boundaries? I wonder too if even when it does, if it should to the extent that we are capable of. I wonder how far relationships will change as a reflection to what's in the genre instead of the genre changing to be a reflection of what's in the world.
It'll be interesting to watch at least.