Categories of Romance

While my rough draft is being critiqued, I figure it is best to go over the different subdivisions of romance.  Whatever genre a writer chooses, there’s subgenres (or categories) within it that they should explore to make sure when they query to agents, publishers, editors, or beta-readers, they are under the correct category.

Here’s a rundown of the information I found on Wikipedia at: .

The Romance Writers of America says to be considered a romance novel the main plot must be two people develop romantic love for each other and work to build a relationship together.  The ending must be optimistic and emotionally satisfying for the readers. 

  • Since the female character’s relationship with her family or friends are equally important as her relationship with her lover, women’s fiction and chick lit isn’t necessiarly a romance subgenre.
  • Maybe I don’t write romance–maybe I should call it women’s fiction because my female characters definitely value work, family, friends besidess just her significant other.

Here are the different categories:

1.  Category Romance

It is no more than 200 pages and has about 55,000 words.  The story is broken down to just the essentials with subplots and minor characters being eliminated or forced into the backstory.  “Nonetheless, category romance lines each have a distinct identity, which may involve similar settings, characters, time periods, levels of sensuality, or types of conflict.”

  • I figure my story is a romance drama  because of the plot, but I guess I’d have to read a publisher’s guideline to make sure.  Apparently, I’d need certain characteristics displayed in my story to make it a true drama.  I’ll need to research some more on this.

2.  Single-title Romance

It is usually between 350 to 400 pages and runs about 100,000 to 110,000 words.  It doesn’t have to be a standalone novel; it can be a series that covers the same characters and settings.

  • I’m struggling getting to 55,000 words, so I know I can’t double that hee hee.

3.  Contemporary Romance

The setting is after World War II.  The elements within the novel date it by it being set in the time when the book is written.  The elements really reflect that time period.  For instance, “heroines in [these novels] prior to 1970 usually quit working when they marry or have children–while heroines after 1970 usually have, and keep, a career”.

  • The story I’ve written now qualifies under this category.  In fact, most of what I create, probably can be under this.  I love giving pop culture references in my stories.

4.  Historical Romance

It is set before World War II.

  • Never say never, but I know I will never write in this category.  I hated the subject of History in school, and I don’t like going back to the olden days.

5.  Romantic Suspense

This involves the female character being the victim of a crime and falling for the guy (usually a cop, bodyguard, etc.) who helps her.  By the end of the story, the mystery is solved and the two main characters enter a relationship.  “Because the mystery is a crucial aspect of the plot, these novels are more plot-driven instead of character-driven”.

  • This would be interesting to write except I wouldn’t really care for the cop or bodyguard.  Maybe the police get involved but ultimately the guy who helps her is her best friend or friend of the family.  And, with suspense, I wouldn’t necessiarly want it to be all sunshine and rainbows at the end.  So, maybe this subgenre but under women’s fiction.

6.  Paranormal Romance

It includes an alternate version of our world where vampires, demons, and werewolves exist.  It also can have humans with psychic abilities, witches, ghosts, time travel, aliens, etc.  “Sometimes the larger culture is aware of the magical in its midst, sometimes it isn’t.”

  • This genre would be fun to write in.  In fact, my graphic novel was a story about a set of triplets, who were cursed witches.  I’d stay away from vampires and werewolves, but I’d definitely consider writing a love story about witches or ghosts.

7.  Science Fiction Romance

It takes place on another galaxy or set in the future.

  • I don’t know about this one.  Sci-Fi isn’t really my thing says the girl who’d consider writing about witches or ghosts.

8.  Fantasy Romance

It is basically a fantasy story that has many of the same elements as a romance story.

  • I guess it’s the same as sci-fi–maybe I’m wrong.  But, I wouldn’t be interested in writing for this subgenre either.

9.  Time-travel Romance

It deals with two characters living in two different time periods and they use a time machine to visit each other.  “A successful time-travel romance must have the characters react logically to their experience and should investigate some of the differences, both physical and mental, between the world the character normally inhabits and the one where they landed.”

  • Never say never, so I’ll give this a maybe.  Instead of using present day versus the past, I’d rather do it where maybe a character could use a machine to go from continent to continent within seconds or to go back in time–a year back tops.  I have no interest writing about the olden days or having my male or female sound like they’re from that era.

10.  Inspirational Romance

“These novels typically do not include gratuitous violence or swearing, and the central courtship is chaste.  Sex, if present at all, occurs after marriage and is not explicitly detailed.  Many novels in this genre also focus on the hero or heroine’s faith, turning the love story into a triangle:  the man and the woman and also their relationship with God”.

  • Since I don’t like to get preachy, I’d pass on this category.

11.  Multicultural Romance

The story has black, asian, hispanic, all miniorities main characters who fall in love.  Or can be in an interracial relationship.

  • Most of my stories fall under this.  The majority of my characters are black or American Indian–probably because I can relate.  But, I want my stories to be read by everyone, not just one group.

12.  Erotic Romance

It uses more frank language instead of using many euphemisms or mild content when describing sex scenes.  It has many of those, but these novels do include well-developed characters and a plot that can exist without the sex scenes.

  • I know I could never write in this subgenre.  I get uncomfortable writing only a couple love-making scenes in my stories, so I’m sure I couldn’t write a lot–especially giving specifics.  I’m blushing just thinking about it now hee hee.

Later on, I will research categories under women’s fiction and chick lit to see what I fall under.  I may not traditionally fall under romance because I like drama (which involves not always having a happy ending), I tend to focus more on my main female character, and her relationship with a significant other isn’t my top priority.  It is more about my characters finding themselves by the end of my book.  Not about them feeling complete because they have someone laying next to them in bed at night.

For all the writers out there, what genre do you write for?  Have you ever researched the different categories within that genre?  If so, what do you refuse to write?  And/or what do you like best?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby


4 thoughts on “Categories of Romance

  1. Like you, a lot of my writing comes under multicultural. I would love to read some of your work, too! I tend to agree with all the comments you have made re each genre. I don’t really do historical or sci-fi, either. I guess I like adventure/suspense the best, with obviously erotica thrown in. Although I also enjoy writing outside of the erotica genre and sticking with romance alone. Nice breakdown of the categories there!

    Much love,
    Rea x

  2. Hey Rea,
    No not yet. I’m working with a crit group online and on Absolute Write. I’ve never been published, but once I finish this manuscript, I’m attempting to get it published. Plus, everything else I write after that.

    Once I’m out of the critique stage and my draft is ready for beta-readers, you can be one, if you want.

    Keep smiling,

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