Friday, July 6, 2012

Who Is the Romance Audience?

Is there such a thing as too intelligent?

Signs point to yes, at least when it comes to romance.

I recently got a work back, and the editor mentioned that my writing bent toward literary and the piece may be too intelligent for readers. Romance readers are looking for more fun, more fluff, she says.

First, have you read me? I am no Proust, that's for sure. It won't take much for me to 'dumb down' a manuscript. Change a word here, lift the mood there, take out the some of the anger and true-to-life emotion, and you've got a ready-to-read romance.

But does it need to be this way? Romance readers and writers face a huge stigma in our society. They're looked at as less than, sometimes, and for what? Because they like to read or write as an escape? Because they prefer topics that are fun for them? Because they don't trouble themselves by dealing with heavy topics all the time? Is that so bad?

No, it's not, and that's what the editor was getting at. Her message wasn't, 'dumb it down for the stupid readers,' it was 'readers in this genre are looking for fun, why not give it to them?'

It's the societal perception that skews statements like hers. The perception that people who enjoy romance novels, or even young adult literature, cannot handle the literary classics, the contemporary works of written art. And that's not true. When someone picks up a romance or YA book, it's not because they can't read Kafka. It's because they don't want to at that moment. At that moment, they want to read a piece with simple story and narrative that compels them along on a journey of feeling, adventure, and fun.

Personally, I enjoy literary fiction more than any other type of work. But teasing ideas out of text can get tedious after a while. They call some books "beach reads" for a reason. When you're relaxing and just want to get away from yourself for a while, perhaps you'll pick up a simpler piece. That doesn't make you dumb, and it doesn't make the book you're reading trash. The book is doing it's job and you're getting away from yours.

Nothing wrong with that.

So, to those who say the romance audience is a group of unintelligent, base, unthinking plebeians out for raunch and sex and love stories, I say no.

They're bankers, and lawyers, and waitresses and stay at home moms. They're business people, management, and cashiers.

What I'm trying to say is, they're everybody. We all need a break sometimes, and that's what genre fiction (any genre, really) is about. Why not let them do their jobs instead of being so busy looking down on them that you forget to have any fun yourself?

To each reader his own, I say. Why don't we stop judging, and start reading?

1 comment:

  1. So true. I'm studying for my Phd so I do plenty of very heavy reading - when it comes to my leisure time, I like to "switch off" and let the story carry me along :-)