The Genre Buffet of Romance Writing

Copyright Judy Bagshaw - All Rights Reserved


There are a couple of things that all romance novels share. They all have a central love story, and they all have an emotionally satisfying conclusion. But after that it’s a wide open genre, which keeps writing romance so refreshing.


I originally began my writing career writing contemporary romances, which quickly led to romantic suspense. I am now dabbling in paranormal romance (mostly featuring ghosts) and some historical and fantasy romance short stories. This has kept me from becoming bored as a writer. I know that I have endless sub-genre possibilities to choose from.


Some people question the wisdom of switching sub-genres like this, since success as a writer to a great degree depends on branding and what the readers come to expect from their favourite writers. Well, I am known for featuring full-figured heroines in my books. That is my particular brand. So as long as I stay true to that vision, I am confident my readers will be willing to read whatever I write.


And the field is varied. Consider these options:


Contemporary romances are set in the present time, roughly stories set after the World Wars.


Historical romances, on the other hand are set in the past, generally before the World Wars. And because this includes a broad range of eras, historical romances can be sub-divided into such sub-genres as Western, American Colonial, Civil War, Native American, Dark Ages, Renaissance, French Revolution, Middle Ages, Regency…and so on.


Futuristic Romances are set far in the future and contain some science fiction or fantasy elements. Many futuristics fall into the paranormal realm.


Paranormals  contain “other-worldly” elements…ghosts, demons, angels…or the characters can have some kind of paranormal power…clairvoyance, control of the elements, etc. These share some aspects with Fantasy romances. Fantasies contain elements of magic and can incorporate mythical creatures like fairies or dragons, elves or vampires. And in the same ball park are Time-travel romances, a story set between two time periods, with one or more of the characters travelling between both.


If you’ve read any Jackie Collins or Judith Krantz, then you’ve read Glamour Romance, stories set in the world of jet-setters and celebrities.


Romantic Comedy is gaining in popularity. Author Daisy Dexter Dobbs is a pro at weaving romance with the screwball antics of the heroine.


Romantic Suspense contains mystery and intrigue, and rolled into this general category would be your spy stories, CSI-like forensics stories, cop stories--in other words, stories with more drama and usually with a contemporary setting and of course, involving risk for the heroine.


If your taste is cowboys and the wild west then Western Romance would be your sub-genre. These often get categorized under historical and are set in the American “old west”.


There is a growing interest in Erotic Romance by writers due to its fast rising popularity and its lucrative nature. Erotic romance focuses heavily on the sexual aspects of the story, often using quite graphic language and imagery.


These are the main sub-genres in the Romance genre. But then you must consider any combination of the above. How about a Time Travel Western? Or an Erotic Paranormal Suspense, a futurisitic romantic comedy, or a Medieval paranormal?  The combinations are only limited by your imagination.


If you are not comfortable presenting stories in multiple sub-genres or cross-genres under your own name, then you have the option of writing under multiple pseudonyms. Many authors of Erotica have chosen to do this. For some it’s a matter of keeping private. For other’s it’s a sensitivity issue. Perhaps fans of their usual writing would be shocked to suddenly read something explicit from their favourite writer.


And not all readers would be interested in certain sub-genres. For example, a diehard Regency Romance fan would not likely be interested in a dark fantasy futuristic tale. And if, as a writer, you choose to step away from Romance, and write thrillers or mysteries, it might be prudent to do so under an alternate pen-name.



So dig into that genre buffet and fill your writing platter with a tasty selection. It will, without fail, inject energy into your writing life.


The following are some related articles you might find interesting.


Branding Yourself by Judy Bagshaw


Techniques to Make Your Romance Zing by Cynthia VanRooy


Romance Writing by Rob Parnell



About the Author:  Judy Bagshaw has been published since 2000. Writing romance featuring full-figured heroines, her publishing credits include several novels, a collection of short stories, and short stories in multiple anthologies. She was also part of the writing team for the Ginn Reading Series, and Reaching Readers Series, used in many elementary schools. Retired from teaching, she writes full-time from her home in Ontario, Canada. Visit Judy's website



Easy Way to Write Romance - by Rob Parnell