Romance novels and rom-com novels get a bum rap and are often considered as “trash,” or as “guilty pleasures”– the books one should be ashamed to read. Typically romance novels are shoved in the back of a closet or are quickly discarded after they’re read, not displayed on bookshelves for guests to see in a home library, in other words. And this, quite frankly, annoys me. Because romance novels can and do offer so much to readers and writers alike.
Here are a few reasons why everyone, including you, should read romance novels.
Learn How to Write Better Dialogue
Romance novels, especially well-written romantic comedies, are great reads for writers who are honing their dialogue writing skills. These novels are typically full of witty banter and easy-to-follow and realistic dialogue that’s also entertaining. And dramatic romance novels will introduce you to ways in which you can include dialogue (or no dialogue at all) in more intense scenes for optimal emotional impact.
If you want to learn how to better develop your own characters or a plot in your own work, via dialogue, pick up a few good romantic comedies to read. And take notes while reading them to learn how to execute humor in your own work, as well.
Experience More Hope, Joy, Peace, Healing, and Empowerment
Listen, my go-to genre is typically literary fiction. But the truth is, most literary fiction is depressing or somber and can leave you feeling down after you read it, even if it is intellectually stimulating and rewarding. Romance novels, on the other hand, can fill you with hope and a sense of empowerment. And rom-coms can bring a lot of joy to many people who don’t encounter much joy in their daily lives. They’re especially good to read after a bad day too. Following a character who finds love after a devastating loss or breakup can offer space for readers to heal alongside them, and make readers feel seen and less alone when they’re going through difficult times in their lives. We’re all human and there is absolutely no shame in admitting that we all long for and need human connection. Every single one of us.
Gain Insight Into What Your Love Interest Wants
If you want to know more about what your love interest might want out of a romantic relationship, read a romance novel by or about someone who resembles them. Reading more romance novels will allow you to get a look behind the scenes at what others might want or expect. Of course, nothing is guaranteed in romance, ever. But reading romance novels will give you more of a clue, and more context, about what others want when it comes to romance, at least when compared to random dating advice online.
Better Understand Popular or Historical Culture and Trends
Perhaps more than any other genre, romance novels and romantic comedies include a lot of cultural references and colloquialisms, including mentions of television shows and books, popular technology and products used, slang terms, and other historical insights. While it may not seem valuable now, 100 years from now it will be valuable to see how people actually talked and dressed and dated via romance novels, and they will offer great insight into the history of our current culture.
Smash Traditional Patriarchal Gender Norms
If more people read and write romance novels there will be more diverse representations of love and relationships out in the world, which means that traditional patriarchal gender norms will start to disappear (or become less popular) over time. It’s odd that romance novels are typically viewed as being a middle-class heterosexual woman’s domain. Love and companionship are things everyone on the planet wants and needs because we’re all social animals. Period. And the world would be better if more people read about and wrote about something as natural as relationships and belonging, in all their diverse ways of existing.
Essentially, everyone should read more romance novels, especially romantic comedies, because they offer a point of view that is deeply human, and relatable to all humans. And that is nothing to ridicule, dismiss, or be ashamed about.
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