With Valentines Day approaching quickly, I thought that this would be the perfect time to ask some questions about the genre of Romance. I went to one of my favorite romance authors, Joyce DiPastena. She has written some of the best medieval romances I have read. She knows her genre very well. Thanks Joyce for being my guest today and for your wonderful answers.
What do you think about Romance books that are written today?
You know what disappoints me personally about too many romances that are written today? This is purely my personal opinion and I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority because so many romances have come to this so there must be a lot of readers for them…but for me, modern day romances have too much romance and too little plot. What I mean by that is, in too many romances (not all, but a LOT), it seems like all the hero and heroine do for the entire length of the book are think about each other. I mean, of course it’s a romance so of course they’re going to think a lot about each other…but really, is that ALL they have to do with their time for 300 pages or so? Don’t these people have families? Jobs? Hobbies? But really, it’s more than that. It simply comes down to plot. Nothing much seems to actually happen in a lot of romances today. It’s all about the “relationship”, which is great and I know a lot of readers love. But I just get personally frustrated when not much seems to actually “happen” in a book.
Compare today’s romances to Jane Austen or (one of my personal favorite romance authors of yore) . Their books are LOADED with plot as well as romance. And they’re lauded to the heavens by romance readers and publishers today. And you know what I think? I think if either of these authors were alive today and submitted a manuscript to the national market, they’d get at best a nice little rejection letter telling them they had a wonderful writing style, but their books have too much plot and don’t spend enough time on the “relationship”, good luck somewhere else.
That being said, I do think it’s somewhat different with LDS published books. I don’t think there’s as much focus by LDS publishers on what’s become the traditional romance “formula”. I think to a large extent it’s still more about telling a good story, so you’ll find both kinds of romances in this market—relationship oriented romances and plot driven romances. (Yay!)
How would you compare them to Romance books written say 75-100 years ago?
Aside from what I just noted above—i.e., that older romances have much more plot—the writing styles are very different. What I do enjoy about today’s romances is the more “up close and personal” writing style. Older romances tended to use a more omniscient POV, where the reader is observing the story more from the “outside”. You’re never quite completely inside a character’s head or heart. That’s changed today. Today’s preferred 3rd person limited (or 1st person) keeps you tightly in one character’s head at a time, experiencing everything that character is experiencing just as if it were happening to you. (Assuming the scene is written well.) I’m an emotional person, so I enjoy this more emotional style of writing that is popular today.
Author of LOYALTY'S WEB and ILLUMINATIONS OF THE HEART. Joyce DiPastena fell in love with the Middle Ages when she first read Thomas B. Costain’s THE CONQUERING FAMILY in high school. A graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree specializing in medieval history, Joyce lives in Arizona with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov.
You can learn more about Joyce by visiting her at...