Romance Writing - Mars v. Venus

This sounds like my cup of tea. When I browse throught the books in the bookshop I normally drop books from female authors like hot potatoes. Why? Because 90 percent of books written by women deal with relationship, falling in love with a difficult man etc blabla. Even criminal novels and thrillers. (Of course there are exceptions like Agatha Christie :smiley: ) So I follow this idea here with interest.

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is this a fact


extremely well researched, vigorously vetted. top 10 science opinion of all time, thanks for sharing


No, it’s not a fact, of course. It’s just my subjective experience when I read the back of books in the book shop. As you can read in the female authors thread I’m aware of damn good female authors, with and without romance. It is just that I prefer a criminal novel or thriller without romance. I think with this attitude I qualify perfectly for the anti-romance jam. I do have a romantic side though. For example I love Bollywood movies. What does that say about me?

Edit: Make the test: Grab a random fiction book by a female author in the book shop and read the back. Does it envolve romance?

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If we want to make the test fair, it is advised to also also grab a random fiction book by a male author in the book shop, and check it for romance as well.

Also—regardless of author gender—romance is not always advertised on the back of the book. I’m looking at you, male-written fiction with super awkward romance side-plots, which highlights the author’s clear inability to write women characters.

Might also make sure you’re randomly picking from an independently-gathered stack of store-wide samples, balanced for genre. If you randomly pick while wandering the romance aisle, then your results might be skewed.

It would also be nice to filter the collected sample stack according to whether or not the author wanted to have a romance factor in the story. Sometimes romance gets tossed in upon publisher command, likely for marketability reasons.


i think it’s silly to discount anyone’s writing just because it has romance. here’s a fantastic passage from the 2007 novelization of michael bay’s Transformers (written by a woman)

Kaboom! The hangar door flies off its hinges, smashing into the nearby airliner which is also a Transformer. After the smoke clears, Optimus locks eyes with Sam. “Sam Witwicky, in order to obtain the All-Spark you must place my metal nipple into your human mouth.” Sam’s eyes dart back and forth. “Which one, Optimus?” “The left one, for it is closer to my engine.” “Sounds right to me, and I know cars!” Then Sam put Optimus’ nipple into his mouth. “Uhh, I call the other one!” Bumblebee remarked with a chortle.

this scene has both action and romance. but i suppose you’d rather it be edited?


Actually I did the test with male authors. Much romance, too, but far less than from female authors.

Haha, yeah, some male authors don’t do well on presenting believable female characters. Of course some do, but I think women are in average better at presenting believable men than vice versa. I said in average, because it varies.

LOL, really true, but of course I didn’t do that.

The books I saw were clearly meant at women and with romance in mind. There’s a whole industry of books for women not in the romance category. Think of biography, historic novel, self-finding, criminal novel etc.

Btw. I think I’ve read somewhere that women are reading more than men.

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Probably it’s very silly, but sometimes I’m in the mood for action and sometimes I’m not in the mood for romance. There are of course well-done examples of criminal novels and thrillers with romance. And sometimes I’m in the mood for romance books. Most good books have at least a bit of romance in them.

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Try finding a popular song that’s not about love or relationships. :wink:

I used to read the Tao Te Ching quite a bit (might have to get back into it – so much to contemplate with each simple passage) and there are many translations to choose from. My favourite is Stephen Mitchell’s. (I’ve read about 5 or so translations.) I like sci-fi so I was surprised to see one from Ursula K. Le Guin. I read it and absolutely hated it. It’s interesting because they were both translating the same writings, but each had a vastly different perspective on the same message.

I sense the same kind of difference in what you want from a story. You’re right to say that most female authors write about romance relationships more than their male counter-parts. Guys typically like to talk about things, while girls typically like to talk about people. That’s why I like Isaac Asimov so much. He focuses on the ideas, not individuals.

More on topic though, I’m reading a big fat book of sci-fi stories called We, Robots and one of the early stories is from a woman named Vina Jie-Min Prasad, called Fandom For Robots. It’s a great tale about how we might not know when we are interacting with an AI and it’s written from the AI’s perspective.


Mr. Roboto ?

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…and you only had to go back 40 years to find one. :wink:

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Might one argue that the “ogling/objectification” genre of songs aren’t really about love or relationships? I respectfully submit “Baby Got Back” “Anaconda” and “Shoop”.


What about all the hit songs from the early 2010s that were about Dancing in the Club and/or generically Partying?


No matter the topic, no one should judge something based on a broad demographic. You judge the individual thing based on what you consider worth your time. The moment we begin to form preconceived notions based on unrelated and arbitrary pieces of information is the moment we begin to fail as a critic.


Slippery slope, my friend. Slippery slope. Some stalkers might disagree with you. :thinking:


How does one decide what is worth their time? My mistake, I misunderstood what you were saying. I was eluding to the idea, that we all have to make general conclusions about things to get anywhere in this world. Choosing what book to read, requires a lot of preconceived notions. And when talking about a genre of writing, using broad generalizations is pretty much the only way to discuss it. So I agree with your statement, but I don’t think it was applicable here.

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Everyone has a set criteria for what they value in their activities. For instance, the author of this thread here says they do not enjoy books that involve relationships. That’s a perfectly acceptable criteria. Now going on to say, “I don’t like women authors because the vast majority write only about relationships,” is both a false statement and a prejudice based on anecdotal evidence with no real backing behind it.

People form their own criteria based on a huge variety of things such as life experiences, time, and the current events in their life. Everyone is different and that major variance in what the individual values further entrenches the idea that criticism is heavily subjective.


You are fast! I edited my reply, but I think what you said is still relevant to it.

Men write about romance as much as women do; they just do it really, really badly, so you can’t even tell the book has romance in it. Well, not all men. Just most of them, like 90%. It’s just way more likely that men will write romance that doesn’t even come off as romance.

I know this because I just do.


Be that as it may, “books written by women” is not a genre.


That’s not entirely fair re men and writing about relationships - like, many of them are very good at writing about divorced/divorcing dudes who are embittered and horny.

(Though the best recent example here, Fleischman is in Trouble, was by a woman…)