I know we’ve seen this discussion pop up more than once (like the author of this piece points out, it usually cycles through every few months) but this is probably one of my favorite set-downs of the Non-HEA crowd yet.
It’s well phrased, fairly comprehensive, and just slightly scathing.
It’s the utter bane of my existence when people send me their manuscripts to edit, and I get a cover email that read along the lines of “I’m not a fan of romance novels so I added my own twist” and my soul curdles because first of all a) if you don’t like romance but you’re writing it because you’ve realized it’s lucrative and you think Anyone can do it because it’s “easy”: get the Hell out of my genre and b) suffering and misery instead of a happily ever after (or happy for now) are not twists.
It’s not edgy, it’s not clever, in fact what it shows me is that you do not understand the genre on a fundamental level and shouldn’t be writing for it.
Romance is a fantasy genre, people don’t read fantasy for endless suffering (thank you GRRMartin et al for making every edgelord in the world think nitty gritty detail = pain and suffering without relief and flooding the genre with their shitty reimaginings of the characters from Lord of the Rings but set to the plot of SAW) they read fantasy to know that the suffering will end. That evil will eventually be defeated, that good things can and will still happen and that the sun will shine again.
Romance is no different from that, except it is a genre primarily considered to be feminine and therefore subject to ridicule and the belief that somehow if a woman can do it, it must be easy
“But Joy,” I hear some of you say, “Romance doesn’t have that reputation because of sexism, it’s because of how many bad writers get published in it and make it look bad.” *angry buzzer sound* oh I’m sorry that was incorrect, you see every genre has an abundance of shitty books that make it to print, whether it’s goofball sci-fi or Lord of the “all my characters are white because of historical accuracy” Rings 94949392.0 (or if you really want to start a fight, every mediocre white man considered a classic by the literary genre and lauded by academia for writing about wanting to have an affair with one of his students/the inevitability of death) and while they are subject to criticism, there’s still not quite the same vitriol that Romance gets for wanting, what is essentially, a happy life.
There is nothing wrong with feel good media, there is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy something a little bit silly and unapologetically happy. The popularity of coffee shop Aus in fandom is both unsurprising and nothing new. It’s quite literally common romance tropes that have been around forever but with the diversity of fandom (*eyes ao3 tag* kind of) and I will die on this hill defending the validity of Happily Ever Afters and Happily For Now before I let anyone try to take it from my icy cold grip.
And if I get one more romance manuscript with a cover letter that says they’ve added a twist, then god dam y’all someone had better have twisted their ankle and been carried bridal style to their bed because I’m so over people hating on the simple want for happiness.
Yep, happy ending. Gimme a happy ending fanfic writers! I’ve seen too many unhappy endings (fuck, I participated in unhappy endings myself!) so no, they must luv each other (but pining good, too, just not forever!)