Romance Vs Romantic Writing…spot the difference!

Any story that contains love could be said to be romantic fiction. But some are more romance-heavy than others.


A story of a love affair developing between a man and a woman from the moment they experience that first frisson of chemistry right through to overcoming obstacles to the culmination of their love.

Other issues are a secondary to the romance. The real stakes are with the hero and heroine – when they are going to get together after all the obstacles to their love are overcome.

A romance novel/story describes the progress of the love story, from the meeting to that moment of commitment. All hoping for that Happily Ever After (HEA).


Love, mysterious, exciting, sentimental – often scenes remote from ordinary life – I’ve never knowingly met a billionaire, have you? Yet he is commonplace in many of the latest HM&B titles which have a massive, loyal readership. Some stats say nearly 50% of all books sold are romance.

Visions of pink chiffon à la Barbara Cartland, Historical romance, Romance fantasy, Harlequin Mills & Boon. And the stories – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight – any story, any era, where romance rules and it’s all about the characters finding love and fulfillment!


Characterised by the subordination of form to theme, and by imagination and passion. Real characters live real lives with a plot that may be simplicity itself or as complex as War and Peace.

A much wider-ranging story and more ‘realistic’ than the ‘romance’.  A romantic story takes in the seamier side of life – grief, toughness, unfairness, the tribulations and hardships. Issues much broader than the hero and heroine. Modern romantic stories demand feisty characters with tons of plot twists to keep the reader spellbound.

Even if the story is bleak, there is usually a thread of hope and optimism running through it. Characters suffer, but the heroes and heroines come up smiling…some of the time. The romantic story/novel does not necessarily have a HEA.


Image result for photos gone with the wind film

Gone With the Wind comes to mind, novels by Nicolas Sparks, Anita Shreve, Paullina Symons, some Jodi Picoult and many more – writers who write stories that resonate in your head for years, not usually because of the romantic element, but because of the way the issues, the background were cleverly intertwined with the hero/heroine’s romance. If you think about your stories you’ll probably find a romantic element there.

So, is one better than the other? Of course not!

Both ROMANCE and ROMANTIC writing have their place. Myself, I think of pure romance as belonging to the fantasy genre. This is why romance attracts criticism from those who don’t understand it, while the James Bond type of fantasy is admired for all that gung ho testosterone-fuelled action. Casual sex and violence is seen as more commendable somehow than the boy-meets-girl story which is the basis of romance. But isn’t romance more likely to be the experience of most people? Ah, well, I don’t mind a bit of JB shaken and stirred, but I also go for the romance hero being shaken and stirred by the heroine. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

I read both ROMANCE and ROMANTIC novels. ROMANCE for pure entertainment and escapism – it’s my preferred style of fantasy and I love a book where I can smile and giggle most of the time. Helps get me through a rough patch. I read more ROMANTIC novels these days, as this is more my style of writing. I mightn’t smile and giggle, maybe I’ll cry more, but they are stories I can’t put down and think about long after I’ve sadly read the last page.

I wrote this post with the two up-coming ‘romantic’ blogfests…the Lost & Found and the WEP Valentine’s Day blogfest in mind. Neither blogfest is particularly looking for a hearts and flowers story (but that would be nice too!) There are just so many ways to tackle these challenges. In any case, I hope I explained the difference between romance and romantic to a point.

You can read more about it at my blogspot blog and also sign up HERE. in my blogfest sidebar.  If you’d like to help promote the Lost & Found blogfest, tweet this:

Celebrate Loves Lost & Found with @Guilie73 @ArleeBird  @AlexJCavanaugh  @eseckman @YolandaRenee & @DeniseCCovey

Hoping you can join us for the Write…Edit…Publish blogfest. We post our linky on our website on Feb 1. Share your story with us! Please spread the word!

Over at the WEP website, Francine Howarth is talking about collaboration in anthology writing.

Thanks for coming by! I appreciate it.

Please consider participating in either the Lost and Found blogfest, and/or the WEP Valentine’s blogfest. You will be most welcome! Any questions? Leave a comment.


2 thoughts on “Romance Vs Romantic Writing…spot the difference!

  1. It is a valid, thoughtful question, Olga. I don’t see why it’ isn’t a romance…M&M and F&F is a huge market now. And all very much romance at their core. Most people look for love and there are plenty of people who look for romance in their own gender. It’s certainly still romance.


  2. Interesting post, Denise. What about gay romance? If it’s a love story between two women or two men, is it still a romance? The writers who write such stories would say yes. I’m not one of them, but I think the question is valid anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

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