Marina Oliver – Romantic Fiction – The Genre

Romantic Fiction – The Genre

Something for Everyone

Romantic fiction is about love, a universal preoccupation which figures largely in all art forms from music to painting, opera and ballet. In all literature there are stories about love and its consequences. Greek gods were often distracted or consumed by it, poets and songsters revel in it, and novelists use it for their plots. Jane Austen and the Brontes were romantic novelists. Romantic fiction, dealing with the most profound human emotions, is enduringly popular, with vast sales and library borrowings. Even in very different forms of novels such as crime or fantasy, love is often an important ingredient.

Romance or Romantic?

The book trade makes a distinction. If you aim at publication you need to study what is being published now, and individual publishers' requirements.

Romance is category fiction published by just a few publishing houses in the UK, and several more in the USA. Often marketed by brand, a few titles are published each month, recognisable by format and cover, similar in length and style, and much more difficult to write successfully than non-writers believe. They are not formulaic, except in broad outline such as an almost exclusive concentration on the couple and their emotions, and a satisfying conclusion. Within this they can be amazingly varied.

Romantic fiction applies to most other novels written for the women's market, though men both read and write them. They are powerful stories of love with, usually, an upbeat ending. This story is often combined with other themes such as social change or comment, ambition, jealousy, revenge or mystery. An even wider definition of romantic as the emotional appeal of the heroic can include adventure and historical novels.

Types within the whole

We give books various labels, depending on story and setting.


There are types which may be modern, historical or futuristic, such as fantasy, science fiction, space travel, new age, ethnic, westerns, and time travel. Romantic fiction embraces all aspects of life.

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