Author Rant: Series vs. Romance - Do The Same Rules Apply?

After the discussion about labels on romance novels, and prior discussions about series books in the romance shelves, one author and I had a rather lively discussion via email about series books and whether the same rules and expectations should apply to them as to romance novels. Since this author doesn’t want to be seen as trying to sell her own books, she asked that I post her rant anonymously so that it would be evaluated on content and not as a potential marketing attempt. Normally we’re all about owning your comments, but I can see her point – she wants her argument to stand on its own without being judged as an attempt to build buzz around her series. So – Anonymous Author defends Series in Romance, take 1.

AnonyAuthor says:

Ignoring the whole OMG-bad-language-naughty! aspect of what Madeline Baker wrote, her comment that “Lately I’ve read several books that have ‘paranormal romance’ on the spine. In my opinion, a good number of them haven’t been romances at all…” got me thinking: are there still hard and fast romance rules? Or has there been a gradual change with the new guard of readers taking over the old when it comes to what a romance “should” have?

With the recent popularity of paranormal series novels, where happily-ever-afters aren’t automatic, does the Romance label on the spine still imply to people that there are certain formulas inside? Or has the romance genre changed to where formulas/guaranteed HEA’s/Heroes with Big Cocks are more, to quote Captain Barbosa from Pirates of the Caribbean, like ‘guidelines’ than actual rules?

I could be biased but I think there should be some leeway for series novels when it comes to a HEA. If a book is a true stand-alone with NO other novels being written containing the same characters and it’s labeled a romance, then I can see how people get their bacon burned when there isn’t a HEA. But if you have a series, be it paranormal or mystery or whatever, then you know there’s more to say and the HEA might be just delayed, not eliminated.

I guess what bothers me is how readers blame the authors. Unless you’re an established money-making author, you have NO say over how a publisher markets your novel. Especially if you’re a new author, you do a lot of smiling and nodding, not much else, because the publisher doesn’t give a shit that your newbie hasn’t-made-them-a-dollar-yet ass disagrees with their marketing scheme.

But when some people get upset about a book not having a HEA if it’s labeled a romance, they don’t email the editor or pub house – they bash the author. If a book has “romance” on the label, yet no HEA, or perhaps half the plot isn’t about the romance, remember that the author didn’t chose the marketing label. The publisher did. After all, it’s not like an author can pull a fast one and sneak in a non-HEA after a novel’s been edited – the publishing house would have known it wasn’t there when they bought it.

Several of my author friends are in the same boat, having a “romance” label when their books don’t follow old-school romance formula, but what’s a new author to do? Pull out of their contract in protest when they see how their book’s being labeled?

So to wrap up a loooong ramble, IMO, I’d say series books should have a somewhat different set of rules when it comes to romance. But if that still doesn’t appease, then readers who are unhappy about not having their expected formula/HEA should go to the person who did the labeling with their complaints, not the author (unless the author is self-pubbed, then yes, readers can bring on the bitching to us!) 

I personally am not fond of series, though I do see this author’s point. She’s right that the issue isn’t that the publisher said to the author, “Hey we really like this romance but it should be a series – think you can hack off the happy ending and make it so the book doesn’t really come to an end?” The series idea was there from the get-go, and the publisher knew it when the book was sold. There are also plenty of series books in romance now – from paranormal to contemporary to historical – and there are those readers that LOVE series books and write the date of the next issue down in their planners so they can buy the next one.

I, with my shoddy memory and inability to remember things and my terrible recall and…um… oh, my bad memory, am not one of these people. I like my happy ending in hand, thanks. Not only will I not remember to pick up the new book in the series, I’ll likely not remember what happened in the last book. And I’ve said a few times how irritated I get when I am 30 pages from the end and I realize there’s no way the romance and the plot can be sewn up satisfactorily in that time. But is the publisher subject to a smack on the wrist for putting the label “romance” on the spine? Does the designation “romance” demand a happy ending? Is there another subgenre descriptor we need to use to designate a series with a pair of primary protagonists and a plot that continues over multiple books? I think the term “series romance” is already taken.

But really, my biggest beef is one that I bring to the author AND the publisher: there are several series that start out fantastic and fizzle . I don’t even have to name them – I’m sure you can tick them off on your fingers for all they’ve been discussed here and elsewhere. And I blame both parties for that problem – neither the author or the publisher seems to have an end or at least a resolution in sight, and both keep churning out new issues of the story without the larger story arc in mind. It reminds me of everything that went wrong with television shows I loved – characters change into villains for no reason other than easy tension, the triangle of “who will s/he choose?” gets old and stale far too fast, and there’s no consideration for the larger story and the smaller story within each issue.

So if the publisher hangs a “romance” label on a series that doesn’t have an end point in sight, much less a HAPPY ending, I do get irate. It’s not a question of violating formula; it’s neglecting to mention that the book in my hand is not going to meet what I hold as the most important tenet of romance: everything will be ok in the end. With a lot of current series, there is no end and it’s definitely not ok!

 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Bev Stephans says:

    There are many romance series out there that have happy endings in each book. If that’s what you want, then that’s what you should stick with. On the other hand, if HEA doesn’t matter then go with the cliff-hangers.

    I always look at these things from a readers point of view and I just don’t think it matters much where all of this is going.  There is plenty of reading material for everybody.

  2. 2
    Robyn says:

    I remember getting totally pissed off at a couple of Adams and Clamp’s Sazi stories, clearly labeled romance. The first one was told in the hero’s first-person POV; though it was an odd choice for romance, I liked it. The relationship between H/h was absorbing, even when I wanted to kill the heroine myself. 

    The sequel, again from the hero’s POV, again clearly labeled romance, was no such thing. Even though the HEA was there, the focus in a romance is, for me, on the relationship. Mysteries, werewolves, starships, whatever, are icing on the cake. The attention is still on the relationship. In the sequel, the heroine was barely in it. It was all about him, and the Sazi world. After looking forward to reading about how they would work through the problems presented in the first book, all I read was how he dealt with them, alone. Pissed me clean off.

    If these books had been labeled urban fantasy, it would have been fine. But when a book is pigeon-holed as romance, they better get it right. I can blame the authors as well as the publishers in this instance, because the sequel was not romance. Not just by my standards, but by the standards set in the first book.

  3. 3
    Kalen Hughes says:

    Am I the only one wondering how Mystery/Thriller fans would feel about the crime not being solved in the book labeled “Mystery” just because it’s a “series” book? Am I the only one who loved THE X-FILES episodes that were stand-alone but who was bored silly by the smoking-man/alien/conspiracy episodes? Or who is sick to death of Stephanie Plum’s romantic vacillations? I’ve only read two romance “series” that I can think of, and they both drove me nuts. I quit those authors after the first and second books and never looked back.

    Honestly, I just can’t think of how a “series” romance would work effectively. When the focus of romance is the relationship how do you both leave the relationship hanging and offer the kind of closure that romance readers are looking for? It’s one thing in another subgenre (like urban fantasy or thriller) where the resolution of the book is not dependant upon the resolution of the romance plot, but in romance that all important HEA is the whole freaken point.

  4. 4
    Ann Aguirre says:

    I don’t mind series if they’re well written.

    Am I the only one who sees the template as utterly broken right now? I haven’t changed my Firefox settings, but I show two columns of posts, the side is all the way at the bottom, and the More, More! link isn’t working; the whole post shows at once.

  5. 5
    Chrissy says:

    Interestingly, we had a recent discussion about this on Romance Divas.  I read just about anything.  But labels help me decide what to read when.  I love a good fantasy, a rich mystery, or a thriller.

    But if I buy it off the ROMANCE shelf I am expecting romance.  It’s not a matter of preference, it’s a matter of accuracy.  Romance, for me, means the two lovers end up together, happy for the final frame, boinking away like bunnies on speed behind a picket fence somewhere.  I WANT the HEA if it’s a romance.

    I am happy to buy books that aren’t romances, and do.  But if I buy them off the romance shelf and the liner notes, coupled with a quick riffle of pages, don’t tip me off to the fact that it’s not an HEA ending, I’m pissed.

    Trouble is… not everyone who works in book stores is a reader.  I was at Barnes and Noble about two hours ago.  The new Mancuso (sp?) Shomi novel was in fantasy.  Charlaine Harris was still in romance.  I own both books I saw, like both authors and the books themselves, but they were in the wrong place.

    *sigh*

    Which is why we need to be educated readers to be happy readers, ennit?

  6. 6
    shaunee says:

    PC Cast’s Goddess Summoning series is great romance with HEAs and it’s a series.

    Are we speaking specifically of series, i.e. cliff-hanger ending or series, “a group or a number of related or similar things, events, etc., arranged or occurring in temporal, spatial, or other order or succession; sequence?” (dictionary.com)

    I’m always thrilled when I find a really good new series.  Don’t much care if it’s labeled romance or urban fantasy.  Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series is wonderful.  Not so much with the cliff-hanging that you’re all, “fuck, where’s the rest of the book (hello, they’re at least 700 pages a piece)?”  But still, it’s clearly stated that there’s more to come, which is fine by me.  Just means, to me at least, that there’s more coming from an author I can count on to give me great stuff.

  7. 7
    bettie says:

    Am I the only one who loved THE X-FILES episodes that were stand-alone but who was bored silly by the smoking-man/alien/conspiracy episodes?

    Nope! Those episodes are boring because they have to dole out info at a snails pace to keep the plot running, which, ultimately, just frustrates and annoys me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep on saying it until the suits making programming/publishing decisions listen: I hate a too-long series. 

    I also hate series that stretch the “will they or won’t they” out for frickin ever.  Yes, I know that most series tend to fizzle after “they will!”, but that’s why series should end. 

    When the primary draw is a romance plot or subplot, writers or producers will always piss off a substantial portion of their audience by not providing a satisfactory close to that romance.

  8. 8
    Robini says:

    A Couple of unrelated (but still relevant) points:

    1) I think the Kushiel’s Series is a really good example of a “romantic” series (it’s shelved in fantasy, but has strong romantic plotlines), and of a Fantasy series, where each book stands alone. The main romantic couple establishes a tenuous connection in the first book, challenges it in the second and comes out stronger, then tests exactly how strong that connection IS in the third. All three end on what was (for me) a “whohoo! It’ll be tough, but they’ll be OK” note.

    Which does of course, get me thinking…

    2) What is a happy ever after? Is it a guarantee of marriage and children and nary a worry until they start losing teeth? Or is it just the h/h having found a common ground such that when they say they’ll give it a shot, we as readers can believe it will work out? Because the latter is certainly attainable in series formats. I’ve been happy with Bombshells where the romantic resolution was the hero asked the heroine out on a date, and to me a HEA is more hope for the future than anything else. I get horribly pissed when things I get out of the Romance section end angstily, but as long as I can look at my h/h and say “they’re on the right trajectory, and they have the tools to make it work” for me that’s usually satisfaction enough. Perhaps that’s where the definition of romance is going?

    Not to say that romance authors haven’t dropped the ball on even that one as well. But…

    3) I think Fantasy series have a lot of the same problems, and with the merging of romance and fantasy, those problems have ported over…a lot of the offenders I’ve seen in recent times (excluding Amanda Quick’s Regency series) have been Vampire/Paranormal/Fantasy whatever. This trend DOES annoy me…I used to be a very dedicated fantasy reader, but when adulthood led to a significant decrease in my reading time, I got disgusted with picking up book 1 of a trilogy, and at the end seeing nothing that suggested that the author knew how to wrap up a story, in one book OR three.

    But, with lines like Luna becoming more popular, and Fantasy readers *liking* a good romance in their stories – and being increasingly unafraid to branch out and get it (ever notice Amazon isn’t easily navigated by genre? I’ve bought more than a few books by clicking links to outside of my “comfort zone” in a bookstore) – it might just be that the line between the two is becoming more blurred. There’s no distance between shelves cyberspace, after all.

    4) It is true that Series books in the Romance genre aren’t a new thing…It just used to be that it was ALWAYS a new Hero & Heroine with every story (See: Mallorys, Coltons, Calhouns… any series involving brothers, sisters, cousins, schoolmates or coworkers). So really, it’s just keeping the same H&H that sets some of the newer stuff apart.

    Which goes back to #2. If an author can convince me, X times in a row, that the h&h are in incredible danger, and their relationship might not survive, but oh wait, they came out of it stronger and even more capable/in love, that to me is an acceptable type of romance series.

    Where it gets me is when the action stops in the middle, and I have to read the next book to find out. Because *that’s* just manipulative.

  9. 9
    Kalen Hughes says:

    I read just about anything.  But labels help me decide what to read when . . . But if I buy it off the ROMANCE shelf I am expecting romance . . . I am happy to buy books that aren’t romances, and do.  But if I buy them off the romance shelf and the liner notes, coupled with a quick riffle of pages, don’t tip me off to the fact that it’s not an HEA ending, I’m pissed.

    Exactly!

    The PC Cast books aren’t the kind of series I think we’re talking about. I haven’t read them, but from what I can tell from her website the protagonists of each book are different. I think we’re talking about romance and romance readers being more open to series that star the SAME protagonists book after book (in the Eve/Roarke or Stephanie Plum/Ranger/Joe style). This style of series works great in other genres where the ROMANCE isn’t the main focus of the book (be in mystery or sci-fi/fantasy) but it doesn’t work all that well in the romance genre, IMO.

    For me, the issue isn’t my being open to the idea of series (hell, I read them all the time in other genres) it’s the unsuitability of the series construct to the romance genre requirements.

  10. 10
    Chicklet says:

    And I blame both parties for that problem – neither the author or the publisher seems to have an end or at least a resolution in sight, and both keep churning out new issues of the story without the larger story arc in mind.

    OMG Stephanie Plum I’m looking right at you. JESUS.

    I think Suzanne Brockmann handled this issue quite well in the part of the Troubleshooters series that I’ve read (Books 1-6). A couple was established in the background of Book 2 (ancillary to the main couple, although I found the “background” couple about a million times more interesting), then continued their story throughout the series—but they weren’t the main couple until Book 6. I loved that format, because we really got to know the characters, and I was really invested in them by the time they got “their” book.

    Of course, because I came to the series so late, I was able to read all six books in a couple of weeks; I didn’t have to wait months and months between each one.

  11. 11
    Nora Roberts says:

    ~I WANT the HEA if it’s a romance.~

    There you go.

    If the HEA isn’t an essential aspect, call it something else.

    That’s my stand as a writer, and as a reader.

  12. 12
    Jackie L. says:

    I am with Nora.  No HEA, shelve it somewhere else.

  13. 13
    Marta Acosta says:

    Sarah, are you talking to me?  Huh?  Are you talking to me?  Okay, here’s a thing about some of these series and their apparant lack of direction or whatever.  (And count me as still fuming over the “ending” of Deadwood.)  Sometimes the authors don’t know if there are going to be more books in the series.  If they’ve got a multiple book deal, the publisher may ask for sequels, or decide to go in another direction.

    Speaking of sequels and WAITING FOR A HAPPY ENDING, I’m checking here every day, Sarah, to see if Freebird has a new sibling!

  14. 14
    Kalen Hughes says:

    And count me as still fuming over the “ending” of Deadwood

    Me too!!! I always go back and rewatch the ending of the first season. *sigh* love that ending. Perhaps now that John from Cincinnati flopped they’ll actually give us the two movies they promised! At least Rome got told they were being cancelled so they had a chance to tie things up.

  15. 15
    Liz C. says:

    “a group or a number of related or similar things, events, etc., arranged or occurring in temporal, spatial, or other order or succession; sequence?”

    I definitely prefer this type of series and am less likely to read a series that’s about the same two hero/heroine without giving us the HEA.

    The Pink Carnation series is a good example of the type of series I’ll read. Each novel is stand alone, but continues to include the characters from previous novels only they’re secondary characters. It’s interesting enough, and has the promise of really good pay off with one of the characters when the author finally writes her story, that I’ll make sure I’m aware when the next book comes out. 

    But if there’s no HEA, no promise of an HEA, and the romance is secondary then I don’t think it’s really a romance.

  16. 16
    snarkhunter says:

    For me, series—and this goes for tv and movies, too—only work if there’s an endgame.

    It doesn’t have to be a specifically plotted-out-ten-years-in-advance endgame, ala JK Rowling and the epilogue to DH. There just needs to be a vague sense of where the hell we’re going, and, maybe, how long it’s going to take to get there. (Shows with great endgames so far? Battlestar Galactica. Buffy (S7 improves on the rewatching, I swear, even if the story arc is lame). Possibly Heroes, if they keep it together. Shows with bad, bad, BAD no endgame problems? Anything JJ Abrams touches. Ditto Chris Carter.)

    I rarely read book series, as I am an impatient person and get petulant if I can’t have MORE NOW. (There are a few I read, but they’re all mysteries, which is a rather different kettle of fish.) I can’t see a long, drawn-out romance series *working*. If you have an endgame, and you know you will take 6 novels to get there, fantastic! Bring it on! I’ll gladly read it. If your endgame consists of “some day I will get Character X together with Character Y,” and then you basically Chris Carter us for seven years, I will NOT be a happy monkey.

    So, yeah. My $.02. Let me show you it.

  17. 17
    Ann Bruce says:

    No HEA = no romance.

    That’s why I don’t read Nicholas Sparks.  H/H die in his books.  I’m not uplifted in the end.  If a book makes me cry, that’s fine as long as there’s a payback by the time I reach the final page.

    If there’s no HEA, but there is a sequel bait teasing me with a possible HEA in the next book, that author’s off my buy list.  Life’s too short for me to chase after books looking for a HEA.  If I’m reading a romance novel, I want my HEA guaranteed.

  18. 18
    Kimberly Anne says:

    I’m chorusing Nora and Jackie on this one, but with my own special twist. 

    I must have my HEA, if you’re going to call it a romance, but I’m flexible as to the exact definition of it.  One of the things that makes me most nuts about TV shows is that they refuse to allow a romantic relationship to evolve.  Once the couple is together, the story either ends entirely, or the couple is screwed over and separated.  I’d love to watch—or read—a relationship that changes and deepens with the passage of time.

    I’ve been married nearly 11 years, and I can tell you, he is not the same man that I married.  But, neither am I who I was back then.  We’ve been through a lot together, and our relationship is completely different now.  I love him more, respect him more, and he makes me crazier than I ever thought possible.

    You don’t need to stop a romance when they finally get together for good.  After the honeymoon phase is when things start getting really interesting.

    “horse88”?  I am not!

  19. 19

    Ann, yes, the Bitches are broken!

    Kalen et al, yes, the self-contained X-Files episodes rocked and the alien episodes were horrid, for the reasons you say! Ack! So nice that someone else appreciates this. The self-contained episodes were some of the best TV I’ve ever seen. The alien episodes were phoned in.

    SB Sarah, I always appreciate your rants against series because I don’t feel so alone. I’ve got series on the brain today because I just had proposals for sequels to my YA books rejected again. But I mean sequels/series in terms of same world, different h/h, with original h/h as secondary characters. The reason I proposed sequels in the first place is that readers have been asking me for them. That said, I don’t think I would have been giving them what they asked for. They mean a new book about the old h/h. And this response has been ubiquitous. I wonder if all the YA series (and Mr. Potter) are bringing up a generation of readers who expect a sequel to absolutely everything.

    One reason I would not want to write a new book about the old h/h is that I write what I want to read, and I hate to read books like that. Like Sarah, I want an HEA in one book. Maybe it has to do with a feeling of accomplishment and completion in finishing a book. Maybe it’s because, like Sarah, I would NEVER remember to get book 2, let alone book 7.

    Another reason—and this may actually get to the crux of the matter in reason 1—is that I worked really hard to get that h/h together, and I don’t want to undo what I did just to get them together AGAIN! But on her website Jennifer Crusie has a related and much more concise explanation: a good book needs to contain the most important thing that ever happened to the h or the h or both. Well, if you write that in book 1, what’s book 2 about? Book 2 is the second most important thing that ever happened to the h/h. Book 3 is the third most important thing, ad nauseam. More interesting for writer and reader to start over with a new h/h and a new most important thing every time.

  20. 20

    Put me in the No HEA = No Romance camp.  I read a lot of books that aren’t romance, and have no problem with troubled endings or ambiguity or ongoing series. But if you’re going to shelve it in romance, bigod make it a romance.  That’s one reason why I always thought Diana Gabaldon was right to insist her books are not romance novels.  They don’t all have a HEA and should be shelved elsewhere.

    On the other hand, even she didn’t have the clout she has now when she first started in this business and her books were shelved in the romance section. I don’t blame the author for the publisher mislabeling the books, it’s beyond the author’s control.

  21. 21
    desertwillow says:

    I just started a series labeled romance. It’s more of a fantasy with romance involved – later on. Hmmm….I’ll read the whole thing because I like the author but normally series don’t work for me. Either I don’t figure out I’ve got nr. 3 of a 7 part series until I’ve started reading or I can’t find nr. 1, only nr. 6. Pisses me off. And then when I manage to get them all read the series starts to sag because the author has been writing it for to long and is sick of it – or somehow it turns to crap. Or I’m sick of it. I haven’t gone near Stephanie Plum in ages, same with Feehan.

    And I liked the stand alone X-files a thousand times better than the extended story lines.

    What I want from publishers is a complaint department. A phone nr, an email addy, or snail mail, that I can find easily and send my complaints in. Then I want somebody at the publisher who’s main job it is to respond to my complaint and promise to send it to whichever department is responsible for pissing me off. I spend the money I should have somebody I can complain to if a book labeled as a romance really isn’t, there was a typo that threw me out of the story on some page or the write up on the back led me astray. Why don’t we have that?

  22. 22
    SB Sarah says:

    Yeah, I totally borked the page with that entry- my bad. A bit of poor coding on my part. Carry on!

    Speaking of sequels and WAITING FOR A HAPPY ENDING, I’m checking here every day, Sarah, to see if Freebird has a new sibling!

    I’m sorry to say, I have decided that I am destined to be Pregnant Forever. I will gestate for the rest of my life.

    But no, Marta, I’m not talking to you. But then, I don’t think your books are romances. However, I do think you, and for that matter, authors like Gleason who have a five-book series and Brockmann who had a six-book series, do have a larger story arc in mind.

    I get frustrated with tv shows for the same reason – sustaining tension with poor character decisions makes me take the show off my DVR list. It also makes me appreciate the “telenovela” programming that’s so popular in Latin American countries vs. never-ending soap operas that have no happy ending. Or ending for that matter.

  23. 23
    Leslie Kelly says:

    >> Kalen et al, yes, the self-contained X-Files episodes rocked and the alien episodes were horrid, for the reasons you say! < <

    Yep yep…totally agree. I think the reason they were horrid is because the alien storyline didn’t flow naturally out of a long-range plan, it was yanked out of Carter’s backside as the years went on. Continuity elements? Ha. Nonexistent.

    I was worried about Lost going down that path and was glad to see they put an end date on the series.

    And Deadwood…grr…don’t get me started. Reminded me of the series finale of Twin Peaks where everybody is in danger, blowing up, etc.

  24. 24
    Chrissy says:

    Regarding Jacquelyn Carey’s Kushiel and Imriel novels… omg I so adore them.  But they are romantic fantasy, not fantasy romance.  It’s not about being fussy, really.  I think we’d probably all agree.  It’s about knowing what we’re getting.

    Anne Bishop, too… although I think sometimes her lines are a little more flexible.  Last few had HEA endings and everything!  LOL

    Sharon Shinn’s new 13th House series, and even the Angel novels—again, getting closer to the line.

    For me, this is all fabulous.  I get books with more of what I like in all my favorite genres.  The only trouble is, I really, REALLY do have definite moods.  Some days I want to crawl into a Carey or a Melanie Rawn or something similar that just sprawls across several books in a gorgeous, exquisite epic.  Some days I want to read Terry Pratchett and snort Aquafina Sparkling out my nose.  And some days I want to blow through an Eloisa James in 4 hours, get my HEA, and pass out for a long sleep.

    Just like sometimes I want a banana, and sometimes I want a cookie, and sometimes I want a steak.  It’s all food, and I like all of it, but have you ever tried to enjoy a banana when what you are craving is a seasoned Ribeye with mashed potatoes, gravy, and baby asparagus?

    Right.

  25. 25
    Rinda says:

      You guys are scaring me with this subject.  ;)

    I’m writing a trilogy/series with romance and the same two main characters and I can’t wait to get to book three—because that’s where the love story gets intense.  Yes, it’s urban fantasy first, but the romance is a MAJOR aspect of this story.

    But I have a question.  If a writer resolves the main plot but introduces a subplot that threatens the romance at the end of book one and two, is that really considered manipulative? 

    I’ve never seen it that way myself. I read a lot of series.  For instance, I’m a huge Patricia Briggs fan and her series has elements of romance—I have no problem looking forward to the next book to find out what happens. :)

    But this is a difficult subject for a lot of authors right now.  I know ones who clearly write fantasy but since there are romantic elements, the publishers are choosing to label them romance on the spine.  The authors don’t have a say in that. I also know some who have been ripped for this in reviews.  No, it isn’t fair in that respect.

    LOL!  My word is needs69.

  26. 26
    AnotherAnonAuthor says:

    I’m Anon because anything else will sound like blatant self-promo. And yes, I’m so happy to see I’m not the only one who found the ‘conspiracy’ X-Files episodes the most boring. Yaaay us!

    I have the first book in a romance series coming out. It’s an HFN for the couple. The series continues with the same couple. Each story is self-contained with a happy interim resolution (‘cos I personally hate cliffhangers, esp. in romance). The relationship strengthens, gets tested, an old flame reappears, baddies are out to get them, etc. How does it work? Well, in my case, I set up two things: one internal complication between the heroine and hero, and one external threat to their world that links to the internal complication. So I think it can be done.

    And, to amend Ms Crusie: “a good book needs to contain the most important thing that ever happened to the h or the h or both” AT THAT POINT IN TIME. Good God, you can’t just say that only one thing of importance will occur to a couple in their lives.To take you as an example, Sarah. Was marriage the most important event in your life? What about Freebird’s birth? Maybe that’s of secondary importance because, in all likelihood, it was a consequence of your marriage, right? Your current pregnancy? Must be third, at least. See? It’s silly to even couch it in those terms, isn’t it? If we really do appreciate fine characterizations (and are not just jawing about it), then we must admit that our characters can hit other obstacles besides the ones we’re currently reading about. It may or may not result in a series, but to say otherwise (and that’s the explicit assumption Crusie is making: there is only one most important moment in any life) is just plain silly.

  27. 27
    KeiraSoleore says:

    ~I WANT the HEA if it’s a romance.~

    Absolutely. There’s no point in being labeled “genre fiction” and not “general fiction” if the most fundamental rule of the genre (HEA in a romance) is not followed.

    Now, I can understand where some contemporary sub-genres don’t ascribe to the rule that a HEA has to mean a marriage, however, they do follow the sense and meaning of a happily together for a very long time .

  28. 28

    HEA = Romance

    I sooo don’t want a banana when I’m in the mood for some….okay I’m not going there.  But I do take the Anon Author’s point, that this is primarily a marketing decision.  So Yes, if you marketeers are listening, don’t dick with our labels.  We are tired and harried and don’t always have time for in depth study of our Target purchases!

  29. 29

    HEA = Romance

    I sooo don’t want a banana when I’m in the mood for some….okay I’m not going there.  But I do take the Anon Author’s point, that this is primarily a marketing decision.  So Yes, if you marketeers are listening, don’t dick with our labels.  We are tired and harried and don’t always have time for in depth study of our Target purchases!

  30. 30
    Teddy Pig says:

    Sorry but my first impression is…

    WTF!

    There is nothing lazier in my opinion than watching yet another author pull off a tired old cheap “buy my next book” ploy by never finishing the story you are reading. In other words, it is not about ME requiring the romance HEA as much as finishing whatever the god damn story you are telling is in the current book you have written. Or worse shorting the dang thing to reference your grand opus.

    But… then you say “well the various story arcs take several books to reveal”. BULLSHIT, the first question I have to ask after an unsatisfying read of a series book is always “What the hell was the story this book was written to tell me?”

    It’s great to have an overall story arc and great goals for a series. But, if the current book has no other reason to exist then why the hell did you waste my time and yours writing it?

    If I can pull out all the typical series fluff, the characters from the last book saying hi or the new baby or the introductions of characters that you plan to use in the next book and all I have is maybe 4 or 5 chapters of the current story then you and I have an issue and you are not gonna like what I have to say about dishonest writing.

    PS… The best Chris Carter was when he kept most of the story arc per season. I am thinking Millennium here.  The worse is when it took over the whole show. I totally agree that the X-Files was a brilliant example of first making it work and then ruining the show when it became obsessive.

    Excess in anything

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