Hey Writing Friends! I’m here with another great romance centered post for you all. In continuing the theme of the month of love, let’s hop into the topic of the subgenres in romance. What I will outline for you today is by no means an all-inclusive list, as we know genres can take on a life of their own. I would suggest not getting too caught up trying to fit into each category, but you should know the general genre your writing falls in so that when it's time to publish you can select the correct categories for your book.
So let’s get into it, We’ll review 8 subgenres to successfully help you understand how to break down romance.
Contemporary generally means in the here and now. Contemporary romance takes place with the backdrop of the present day you are living in. In my opinion, this would be the easiest subgenre to write because you wouldn’t have to do a ton of research to bring this vision to life as you would with other genres such as Historical, Regency, or Sci-Fi.
Book Recommendation: “The Worst Best Man” by Mia Sosa
I’m going to start by saying in my biased opinion, Beverly Jenkins is the G.O.A.T of historical romance, I’ve always loved her melanated book covers. With that said, historical romance generally means the story is taking place in the past, commonly at least 50 years in the past. When writing this type of story you will want to make sure that your research is on point. You’ll need to think about what were the customs of the time period, what manners were people expected to have, and what traditions were typically practiced. You want to give your readers the most accurate depiction of the time period and allow them a trip back in time. You can also add in specific events that happened during your time period to further ground your reader in the time table you are referring to.
Book Recommendation: “Tempest” by Beverly Jenkins
Regency is a modification of historical fiction. Stories that fall into this subgenre typically take place during the Regency era in England, between 1811-1820(1). A popular example of this right now is “The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn, now the Bridgerton series on Netflix. These novels remind me of the old school romance novels I used to see my grandmother and my great-aunt read with Fabio Lanzoni across the cover with a woman grasping his muscular thighs and with a quick search of regency romance novels on Amazon, you’ll see much hasn’t changed. But don’t let the sappy covers of these novels turn you away if this subgenre isn’t typically the norm on your reading list. These books can still help you learn to write dynamic couples.
Book Recommendation: “Be Not Afraid” by Alyssa Cole
The first thing that comes to mind is sex, right? While that can be true in these types of novels, there’s so much more you can offer in this category of writing. The focus in this genre is the arc of the couple’s relationship. We know that sex does play an important part in a relationship, however, it is not the end all be all so your story shouldn’t focus on that. If so, then you will cross into the bounds of erotica. Take the opportunity to show the many facets a romantic relationship can look like and recall those non-sexual acts of intimacy we talked about in my previous blog.
Book Recommendation: "The Other Side of the Pillow: A Novel" by Zane
These stories have the added bonus of mystery behind them, you can even go the route of a great crime thriller in this subgenre. Think of it this way: Relationships are already difficult enough, but add a crime, a secret, high stakes, and mysterious narrative and you have a story your readers will be engrossed in.
Book Recommendation: "The Dark Bones" by Loreth Ann White
Over the years, Christian fiction has gained recognition as its own genre. You can absolutely write about any other religion or spiritual belief in this capacity. The importance is to still show a relationship arc, just as we discussed in the erotic genre. However, in this subgenre, you’ll need to zoom in on the religious or spiritual journey of your characters. This journey can be intertwined with your couple’s relationship arc.
Book Recommendation: "A Virtuous Ruby" by Piper Huguley
#7 Young Adult
The genre of YA is typically intended for the age group of 12-18, but as we know, even adults can find joy in the stories that depict teen years. These stories tend to show the discovery period of relationships. Leaning on the idea of the coming of age story, this can also entail finding your first love, learning how what loving yourself is, understanding sexuality and even family relationships can be explored in this genre.
Book Recommendation: "Love is a Revolution" by Renee Watson
The Sci-Fi and Paranormal genres give you a wide range of avenues to take your story. Adding in elements such as vampires, witches, werewolves, fairies, or even an apocalyptic timeline can be imagined in this theme of writing. This type of writing allows you to give readers a true escape from reality. To successfully do this, your worldbuilding skills have to be on point. These types of stories can be grounded in the current world that we know, but by adding in the elements mentioned before, you have to paint vivid pictures for your readers with amazing descriptive writing. You can also consider elements of fantasy here as well.
Book Recommendation: "Awaken the Dragon" by A.C. Arthur
As I mentioned at the top of the post, there are many subgenres that can be placed within romance, take the time to think through the theme of your story to classify your book in the correct terms. When it comes time to publish your book, look through Amazon or Barnes and Noble for other novels that are similar to yours. Look at what they have been categorized as to align yourself and your book the same way.
Until next time…
Happy Writing! 💚
(1)Cavendish, Richard. “The Regency Period Begins.” History Today, 2 Feb. 2011, www.historytoday.com/archive/months-past/regency-period-begins.