A great article on Romance University this morning on internal vs external story lines written by romance author Lori Wilde. In her article Lori talks about the industry shift from fast-pace, romantic thrillers to the quieter, more intimate small community tales.
As a romance fan, I love both types of stories. Julie Garwood, who was the first author I ever read (although she hooked me with her historical novels), now writes steamy, action-packed romantic thrillers with a little bit of mystery thrown in. I love her new books. And even some of my favorite historical novelists have interwoven the action/mystery/daring plot line into their stories including Stephanie Laurens’ Cynsters Sister Trilogy in which the mystery and suspense live across all three books.
However, I also love a good, small community romance like Lily Everett’s Sanctuary Island trilogy. I think many of Nora Roberts books success also have to do with that small-town feel as well, including her latest the Cousin O’Dwyer Trilogy, which was recently purchased for small-screen adaption.
Of course, Lori isn’t saying readers have to choose one or the other. That’s the wonderful thing about the romance genre, there is a lot of love to go around and around and around. But she does make a good point about community driven dramas providing the opportunity to focus on the internal story – or the emotional story – rather than a plot driven storyline that romantic thrillers rely on.
Now, of course romantic thrillers/adventures, or any subgenre, have a driving romantic plot line. It’s a must-have in order to capture reader interest and emotion and to keep them immersed within the story itself. However, what Lori points out is that without the romantic thrill, there are more pages and a larger word count to devote to the emotions of the characters, their journey, their thoughts, and their reflections. No argument here. It’s on the reasons I love stories that focus on a smaller towns or communities, and in which that town or community almost becomes a supporting character in the book.
The thing is – I crave both. I want the heightened romantic suspense and a plot that throws characters together and forces them to share certain experiences that no one else can relate to. I love that it drives the story. At the same time, I love when characters have a expanded emotional background. Where I get to know them, their history, and their thoughts and feelings in a more in depth way. There is a true connection there.
So, whether or not there is a shift in the genre, maybe for some, but not for me. However, I truly enjoy both the internal and external stories, each has their merits and each makes for a wonderful read.