Toi Thomas Romance vs. Love Story
Romance vs. Love Story by Toi Thomas
A romance and a love story is not the same thing. It took me a while to realize that. I once had someone (a male of the human species) tell me that Superman Returns was a chick flick (a romance specifically) because of the way the relationship between Superman and Lois Lane was portrayed. Apparently, if there’s a kid and a romantic rival involved, no amount of action and superpowers is enough to balance out the gushy parts. Whether he had a point or not, I do believe that romances have a standard to comply with, whereas a love story can take any shape it wants. I personally don’t think Superman Returns was a romance (whether you like the film or not), but it could be considered a love story (if you forget about all the action, cartoonish violence, and kryptonite).
Being the geek girl that I am, I said all that to make a point about my own writing. I used to think romance was so hard, but once I learned to tell love stories, it became a lot easier. When I think of my own love story, I realize that it’s not always about romance. Now, don’t get me wrong. My life is not devoid of romance, but it’s not the glue that holds or even brought me and my husband together.
When I first met my husband, I didn’t like him; pretty sure he wasn’t fond of me either. Over time a mutual respect developed into a mild friendship. Then one day out of the blue he asked me out. I literally had nothing better to do (I was away at college in the mountains), so I went out with him. After one or two romantic dates, we somehow slipped into this sort of old-couple-comfort with one another and became really great friends. Most of the things we like to do together would be considered just hanging out.
After almost a year of dating, Valentine’s Day came around and we attempted to do something romantic once again. Notice I said attempted. Nothing outrageously tragic happened, however, we didn’t really have a good time. That was the end of trying to be traditionally romantic and the last time we celebrated Valentine’s Day.
When I think about the stories I’ve written and the ones I want to write, I find that most of them have some sort of love story in them. I write a lot about the love between family members such as siblings, parents and children, and aunts and cousins. Sometimes I write about the love of a friend that goes beyond a simple friendship and develops into family. And, I do occasionally write about couples; I write about young couples, old couples, odd couples, and more. And while I write all these love stories only a few could really be considered romances.
The first installment of my Eternal Curse Series, Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel is a paranormal romance, but as the series develops, the romantic focus of the first book shifts and the second book explores themes such as duty and destiny, though the love story continues. In the first installment of my Sayings Series, It’s Like the Full Moon, I write about a love triangle, which is sure to end happily for someone and unhappily for someone else. It’s clearly a romance and as I work on the development of the second book, the romantic theme is still there, though mingled in with other new and developing themes. One of these will likely be remembered by readers as a love story and the other will be remembered as a romance.
Whether a romance or a love story, I’m grateful to have been inspired to tell these stories and I hope to be inspired to tell many more.
Toi Thomas graduated from The University of Virginia’s College at Wise with a degree in computers only to find that it wasn’t her life’s passion. This Special Education Teacher’s Assistant is a ten times self-published author and counting. Her home on the web is The ToiBox of Words at etoithomas.com (#thetoiboxofwords) and she also contributes to A Small Gang of Authors (#OurAuthorGang). A geek girl at heart, Thomas indulges in comic books, speculative fiction, the cinema, and her ever-growing collection of vinyl records. Born in Texas, currently living in Virginia, Toi Thomas has a love-hate relationship with the southern states she calls home, but that hasn’t stopped her from showing her husband of twelve years that Virginia can be for lovers. Adopted mom to a Redbone Coonhound named Margie and an Ornate Wood Turtle named Betty, Thomas is an animal lover, a Christian, and a believer in the possibility of world harmony.
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March 7, 2018 @ 13:10
This is such a fantastic post! Thanks for sharing.
March 2, 2018 @ 06:38
Fantastic post! My husband and I aren’t into romance either. I agree there are more rules when writing a romance as the readers have certain expectations.
February 24, 2018 @ 07:15
I really enjoyed this post by Toi. My husband and I aren’t great into romance either. However, I am totally fangirl over anything Jane Austen. Only her, though. lol http://mpaxauthor.com
February 21, 2018 @ 08:00
That’s a great way of looking at it. I think if more people saw it that way, we’d see more love stories with proper, conflicts and stakes instead of some of the romance books I’ve been reading that hits all the “beats” without feeling like there’s a heart in the story.
February 20, 2018 @ 20:02
Great post. I love Toi, and I adore the story of how she got together with her husband. It’s interesting how often what we think of as traditionally romantic behaviour is superficial. In my experience, it’s easy for a guy (or girl, I suppose) to say he loves you, or tell you you’re beautiful, or give you flowers. But the real romance of life–staying faithful, keeping your promises, being there for another person during good times and bad, being trustworthy, taking their feelings into consideration, and showing respect–is a lot tougher.
Love is the most important tie that binds two people together, but the real thing is rarely how it appears in the movies.
February 16, 2018 @ 08:00
What a great discussion of this topic, Toi. I would cringe at the ‘chick film’ comment. I think that fellow needs to grow up. I like your meet-the-husband story. It sounds much like mine (although, before the respect came dislike–that’s a long story).
Alex J. Cavanaugh (@AlexJCavanaugh)
February 15, 2018 @ 04:38
I think you just described how my wife and I got together. Although I definitely liked her from day one. Not much romance with us, either.
Superman Returns is just not a good film. We’ll leave it at that.
February 15, 2018 @ 14:31
Yeah, I think Superman Returns and Superman IV are the two Superman depictions most are happy to forget.
February 15, 2018 @ 01:28
I never really thought about the distinction that way. Interesting point! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your husband, even if it’s not a traditionally romantic day 😉
February 15, 2018 @ 14:32
February 14, 2018 @ 16:43
Thank you so much for letting me share today!
February 14, 2018 @ 09:31
Great differentiating it, Toi! I know that I’m terrible at both real-life and writing romance, but I can do love. <3