Girls Write Out
Tuesday, October 24, 2006


You've seen the other girl's props, well, here's mine. Not a shoe, a butcher knife, or even a box of chocolates (but only because that one was already taken--and for the record, we split the chocolates).

A red rose, the symbol of love. Yes, I'm a romantic at heart. Nothing is better than a well-written romantic novel, complete with a Happily Ever After. Nicholas Sparks recently, well, sparked some conversation about the romance genre. He said he writes in the "love story genre" not in the romance genre. Some people distinguish the difference strictly based on whether or not the story has a happy ending, but to me it's more than that.

I'm not sure I can define it, but there's a difference between a Nicholas Sparks book and a Silhouette Romance. Better writing? Sure, that's part of it (although admitedly subjective). I'm particularly interested because I'm now writing in the "love story genre" for Thomas Nelson. Genres, it seems, shift faster than a Nantucket sand bar. We haven't yet clearly defined chick lit and here comes another genre. What do you think? Is there a difference between the romance genre and the love story genre? How would you define it?

Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:49 AM  
  Comments (10)
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At 5:09 AM, Blogger Pam S. said...

Romance genre, love story genre. Seems like the same thing to me. Hmm. I wonder: Is it another example of our society's preoccupation with euphemisms? Kind of like "used cars" now being called "pre-owned"?

P.S. Great picture!

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Katy said...

Denise--I'd like to know how you're defining it!

Katy McKenna

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Tina said...

Hmm. There IS a difference between a Sparks novel and a Harlequin, and I'm not saying that Sparks is some great writer and that Harlequin writers are not. I guess I can see how his books are Love Stories because they don't follow the Harlequin formula. They have their own formula, the Sparks formula. And you will probably have the Denise formula. :)

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Jaime said...

well, the first thing that pops into mind is when I mention I read "romance", i often have to clarify it's not the kind with a voluptuous women hanging off of Fabio's arm. So - the love store genre does seem to have a less "spicy" first impression ...

At 12:50 PM, Blogger allen said...

Not sure about the actual 'genres', but I've always defined love and romance as two different passions, if you will. Love is the reality of cleaning the house for my wife, cleaning up kid barf when they miss the toilet, and working jobs I sometimes don't like (hate, really) so that we can keep our house. But romance...that's the suprise rose for no reason, the unexpected favorite dinner cooked because he/she worked late and had a bad day, the poem written for an anniversary or just because it's Thursday or trying to sing a song of love you've just written on a guitar whose neck has just snapped in two on your tenth anniversary. So, perhaps, love stories are the daily grind, the reality of the passion the two feel for one another while the romance stories are those times you find the lighting just perfect one fall evening and the wind is blowing her though her hair and you sweep her off of her feet and whisper how beautiful she is (music swells, Fabio wig optional).

Just one guy's thoughts...

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Robin Lee Hatcher said...

Traditionally, a romance novel means a story about one man and one woman overcoming obstacles and forming a committed relationship (usually meaning marriage by the end of the book or presumed to happen in the future). A romance traditionally guarantees a happy ending.

A love story, on the other hand, is not required to have a happy ending. Thus, the reader can invest their emotions into the hero who will then die about 30 pages from the end, leaving the heroine alone and heart broken. (i.e. Message in a Bottle)

(former president of Romance Writers of America who uses the word "traditionally" because she is seeing the definition of romance novel changing quite a bit)

At 12:57 PM, Blogger allen said...


At 1:18 PM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

I understand the whole happy ending thing, but even if Message in a Bottle had ended happily (and I bout threw the book across the room when it didn't) it wouldn't be the same type of story as a harlequin/silhouette.

I think there are other things that set this type of "love story" apart from the category romance genre. For one thing, the length of category romance necessitates a strict focus on the romance whereas the longer story can involve other issues, making them, to me, seem more true to life.

Allen, I like your distinction between romance and love.

At 2:20 AM, Blogger Lyric said...

Well said, Allen. No need for me to labor trying to restate something so good... :)

Bottom line: As one who reads everything Nicolas Sparks writes but gave up reading "romance novels" years ago...

The kind of love story I look for is one that develops characters in the midst of real life struggles, hopes, and dreams. Love conquers all...but it can be a battle. Romance novels often focus on the physical attraction between the players and the story is built on idealism rather than realism.

Well, it's late and that means I'm probably just rambling. But I'm delighted to have stumbled upon your blog and I'll be back... :)

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think for me the difference would be this:
Romance tells about the first meeting, initial attraction, finding out if there is more to it, etc. Romance is about newness and beginnings to me.

Love story is about the deeper, lasting love in a relationship. The day to day, the we've overcome so much and we are still together, the past the infatuation stage, etc.

Romance ends happily with the two getting together.

Love stories can end either way, it's more about the deeper level of love.

For the record: I HATED Message in a Bottle because of the miserable ending. I think movies/books should have a rating: HE - Happy Ending; UE - Unhappy Ending. :)

Love the picture!


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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