A Romance by Any Other Name

By E. M. Youman

Before I decided that I wanted to be a writer, I was a reading carnivore. I usually went to the library and left with six books. By the end of the day I had devoured half of them and two days later I was back at my local branch, ready to devour more. I knew nothing of online review sites like Goodreads. Finding books to read was either by word of mouth, gifts, or borrowing a book from a cousin. Thanks, Christina!

When I didn’t have a recommendation, I’d simply browse my local library’s bookcases and pick books based on the pretty pictures on the front or the blurb. I didn’t know anything about YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction or Romance. I picked a book, and if I liked it, I read it until the end.

When I decided to be a writer, I knew that I wanted it to be romances. I had romantic visions of creating another Jane Eyre, but in modern times. I quickly had the wool taken from over my eyes and introduced to genres. It was an eye opening experience to learn that each book is situated in its own little country: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Thriller, Mystery, etc. They may overlap, but even then a fantasy romance or Science Fiction Fantasy, still has its own tenets that an author must follow.

Before learning this I thought I was qualified to write a romance because I had read so many of them. Imagine my surprise when I realized that my beloved stories weren’t considered romances in the marketplace. In fact, if a romance is not the goal of the story, then it’s called a love story or a story with romantic elements.

Once I realized that, I knew I needed to read widely to figure out how the boundaries of each genre work. But what I found was that there’s a lot for the romance writer to learn about writing a romance through other genres.

Most craft books on writing will tell you to read a lot in the genre, but I’ve found that reading outside your genre can teach you even more about your chosen genre.


Take thriller writer Lee Child. I would never imagine that I could learn anything from his Never-Go-Backtough male point-of-view stories. Never Go Back surprised me because it’s starts with the male protagonist Jack Reacher thinking about a woman he talked to over the phone. He’s made plans to meet her, traveling across the country to his old base. But Reacher is confronted by two tough guys and told to leave town. But he’s got to meet the voice on the phone, so rather than turn tail and run Reacher beats the men and makes his way to the meeting. And from there his need to meet her, to help her drives the story forward.


Another example is from CD Reiss. Forbidden is about Fiona, a rich girl in a Sub relationship with her Dom. While it gets kinky at times, there’s a romance that develops between Fiona and her psychiatrist. When her psychiatrist tells her that she has the power to make her own choice, it sets off a chain reaction of events, which lead Fiona to growing up and falling madly in love.


What’s interesting about each author’s approach is how the romance develops. In Never Go Back the love interests have a desire to help each other. In Forbidden the characters’ have life altering problems that they never discover the solution to until they meet.

Even though it’s good to read those romances with a capital r, I think it’s also important to hop into other countries and read Science Fiction or Mysteries, or Women’s Fiction. The outsider experience can help in crafting your own story.

About the Author

Once upon a time there was a girl who dreamed of a genie that took her on magical journeys, many of which may have included scenes from the Nancy Drew series (shh!!). Then one day she discovered Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy and became obsessed with heart wrenching romances. When E. M. Youman’s not watching tearjerkers, she’s usually writing them.

For her latest releases visit: http://www.amazon.com/E.M.-Youman/e/B017JG1U2Y


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