Sunday, February 16, 2014
A Sweet and Sour Romance
A Sweet and Sour Romance, for $5.99, no eggroll.
Yesterday (2/15/14) at my RWASD meeting our guest speaker, the great writer, Bella Andre (aka Lucy Kevin), spoke of her adventure into the sweet romance market as leaving a sour taste (paraphrased) with a small portion of her readers because her stories written under the alias, Lucy Kevin, were described as sweet.
So what’s the rub? (Is it simply mixing sugar and vinegar in the makiing of the sauce?)
First off, a sweet romance (aka mild) is defined as without graphic depictions of sex. A subset of this is the inspirational romance which has little to no sex and showcases spiritual values.
Suppose you want to write a sweet story but don’t want to offend an inspirational reader who may have been attracted to your premise. If you are in control of the marketing you can just define what you mean as sweet. You may lose some readers but you will have found your true and more appreciative audience.
You can have fun with labeling your romance.
Although Sweet and Sour is funny and attracts attention, an explanation is still necessary of where you land in the sweet market. Give up your recipe, now.
If you give no explanation for a sweet and sour romance what would a reader assume? First of all, the book is tasty not really spicy (exclude vinegar and sugar as spices, please). Spicy is generally hot. Sweet and sour is tasty and satisfying. But what about subtext. Sour when not applied to cooking can mean a romance that has its ups and downs. Good, we’re getting somewhere. Oops, it could also leave a sour taste in your mouth. Don’t want that, right? The last thing you want is some smart-ass reviewer turn your words against you, right? RW Richard’s latest sweet and sour made me want to cleanse my mouth. Get ahead of this imaginary reader/reviewer by poking fun at your description and being explicit in what you are delivering.
Sour can also signal sassy or not overtly inspirational.
BUT: Romances can be resurrection stories. From the pit of despair, mentally, physically, morally, spiritually arises a happily-ever-after which includes a journey from hell to heaven, but that’s a subject for another blog post. For now, think Pretty Woman. Well, I will.
For our younger RWA members, most of whom know Pretty Woman, let's treat them to a more complex look at the life of a prostitute. A woman with a child trying to make ends meet—on the dirty streets and bars of Hong Kong—the best way she knows how. You might find here an excellent example of the morality play (s few surprising twists on the struggle between right and wrong), perhaps a resurrection story, but it is definitely sweet and sour. Suzie said of her ethics, "I no dirty street girl."
THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG, 1960, William Holden and Nancy Kwan (I enjoyed this movie even more than Pretty Woman).