Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On Genres: Romance vs. Contemporary

Last Monday, I wrote on Fantasy and Paranormal.

Last Friday, I wrote on Sci-Fi and Dystopian.

Today, I want to write more on romance and general fiction.

Have you ever noticed how prominent romance is? (Yes, I've written about it before.) Yes, it's most definitely a genre, but it's also a subgenre... of almost every other genre. Fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary/general, historical... name it, you can add romance to it. I think because it doesn't require any specific setting or elements, other than the relationship itself.

Now, of course, this is where genre becomes subjective. Is it a romance with paranormal elements? Or a paranormal with romantic elements? It's really your decision, but what if it counteracts the author's opinion on the genre? Does that mean you are wrong?

One of the most beautiful things about books is that everyone takes something different from it. That's why I can detest Twilight, love Harry Potter, and change my mind about The Hobbit.

Which is what I want to talk about, really. Changing your mind.

Last summer, I picked up The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, and read both in about 2-3 weeks. And I detested it, especially the endings. (Frodo, how dare you leave Sam behind! He went to freakin' Mordor with you! Did you care about how he must be feeling, seeing you on the lip of Mt. Doom?!)

But now I have an English summer project, and I decided to re-read The Hobbit, because I'm suspicious of Dorian Gray. (It's an AP Lit class, so I have to choose a fiction book! Yay!) And now I'm thinking... you know, it's not as hard to read as I remember. The description is still a bit much, but it's still a good story, and the adventure is certainly attention-catching. In fact, instead of just worldbuilding epic fantasy, it's a true adventure-fantasy.
And so now, I'm kind of liking The Hobbit. Of course, I haven't gotten to the ending, which I detested most of all. But I can manage a project on it without screaming. And that, I hope, is because I've grown since the first time I've read it: I've read bad and good and mediocre books in the year.

My point: you've read good, bad, mediocre books yourself. And you probably have read different books than me -- sure, there'll be some overlap, but you haven't read the exact same books for an entire year. And even if you did, you'd get something different out of them than I, a teenage girl who leaves her house pretty much only for school and the library, gets out of them.

And that means your opinion on the genre of a certain book can be different, as well. And that your opinion of the genre (and how much you enjoy it!) can change over re-readings.

[NOTE: Romance is a very changeable, depending on the age group. And, of course, I'd hope that it only just barely exists in MG, in a fairy-tale fashion, since eleven-year-olds exploring love/sex is rather atrocious. But still, I'm trying not to bias these to any one age group, though since I read YA it's sort of biased towards that.]

[Also note: "contemporary" means the same as "general" or "realistic" in my eyes. This is mostly because I'm lazy, and if it's not historical, it's present-day/modern enough to classed as something like contemporary.]

def. -- set in the modern world (as in, after about the 1980s), and can be about a wide variety of "real-world" issues, such as eating disorders, anger/abuse problems, or mental health.
often seen -- conflicts with police/family/creditors; mental issues, like struggling with depression; settings in New York or London; today's technology, or even brand names like Coca Cola; etc.
common plots -- as mentioned, struggling against an internal problem or a financial problem. Often, romance involved and struggling with, as well.
Examples: Hate List by Jennifer Brown, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
(Note: these are all YA titles. I don't read much adult, and most of the MG I read is in the fantasy genre.)

Some Contemporary Sub Genres:
  • One of the most popular is contemporary romance, combining both of these.
  • Contemporary/Urban Fantasy, when magical elements are set here (such as Percy Jackson).
  • Contemporary Paranormal, when vampires are living in the seedy underworld of a city, for example. 

def. -- a story that revolves around the relationship between two people, which can be set anywhere or combined with many, many diverse elements.
often seen -- a "strong" or "kick-butt"* girl falling for a boy; a geek falling for a cheerleader, or poor falling for a rich, or any such combination; a boy falling for a girl.
common plots -- same as above; love triangles, too.
Examples: I try not to read much overt romance. But you can find romance pretty in any book you pick up, if not as the main plot then as an element.

Some Romance Sub Genres:
  • Contemporary romance, as mentioned above.
  • Paranormal romance, very popular in YA (apparently).
  • LGBTQ novels -- in which the MCs are gay, transgender, or the like. Surprisingly, I don't mind this little niche of romance as much as the rest of it. And, like romance, it can range wide into other genres -- see Eon by Alison Goodman, for example.

Yea, I recommend reading my rant on romance (third link up there, near the top of this post). Romance is kind of overwhelming, very popular, and ever prevalent, possibly because it does range over literally any other genre.

How about you? What do you think about genre and romance? Can you list any of your favorite contemporary or romance?

Have a blessed Wednesday!

*When I say "kick-butt", you know what I really mean, right? I'm incapable of even mild swearing, because I set myself to my own standards. And, of course, there's the whole "My protagonist is strong NOT" aspect, in which the character is really kind of flimsy. Which is a very, very common occurrence, especially to female protagonists.

No comments:

Post a Comment