To Romance or Not to Romance?

To Romance

Welcome back to Paving My Author’s Road regular programming! I’m back from the palm trees and sandy beaches of Florida. Back with another Monday post (and every Monday hereafter).

I have my cousin to thank for today’s post. Before my vacation to Florida, I stopped on by my mom’s place. So my boys can spend a little summer fun time with their grandma. The night before I left, one of my cousins came up to me with a question. He was on my Wattpad profile and wanted to know what the word “bwam” meant.

I’d recently updated the tags to Nadia the Fire Witch. Tags are keywords, labels to identify certain story aspects of interest to readers. It’s another form of metadata, where I use certain terms to make my stories more findable. For example, if I was looking for another book like Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code.” I’d search through tags such as thriller, religion, etc. And browse the listing of books that fall under those categories.

I happened to stumble upon a tag “bwwm.” Curious, I set off to find out what that term meant. “BWWM” means black women white men. And books under that particular category are romance books about interracial couples. Then I wondered, what term can I classify my WIP, in regards to MC Nadia Kemp and her friend, Michael Chen? And I found it, “BWAM,” which means black women asian men.

After all that research, a new question started to nibble at me. Is there a need to include a romantic story line in our novels? I’ve read many novels. Horror, mystery/thriller, young adult, etc. And most did have some romantic elements.

The character Robert Langdon liaised with his female characters in Angels & Demons. And The DaVinci Code. The Hunger Games is a dystopian adventure novel about inequality and defiance. But it also portrayed love lines between Katniss and Peeta. Although their romantic love was a show played out by Katniss, to gain sponsors.

In Nadia the Fire Witch, Nadia will have a close and strained relationship with Michael Chen. But they’ll have to first and continuously face and resolve their past traumas. Experiences more steeped in Nadia’s witch universe than either can fully accept. In Harbingers of El Tinor, love (romantic and familial) determines on how the war will turn out. And there is definitely a love relationship between the characters of Cassandra and Bowen. In the beginning, fraught with mistrust and deception. Then grudging respect and concern for each other’s well being as the story progresses.

That’s not to say every novel has a love line. Or has to have one. Some don’t. But how do you decide whether to add some romance into your story? Do you include it because it furthers the plot? What if it doesn’t? Does it change the story or the story remains the same without it? As a non-romance writer, have you ever had to question whether to include romance in your story? What made you decide to keep or drop it? Please share in the comments section below.

To romance or not to romance? That is the question.


  1. I’ve debated this issue as well. Even stories that are not remotely romances often include romantic relationships. I think it’s because fiction is ultimately about how we humans relate to our world, primarily the world of other people, and romantic relationships are among the most important aspects of that. We can’t really explore the human condition if we consistently leave that out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your insight Celia. As humans, we all have different relationships with other people. Friends, frenemies, enemies, work, family, lovers, etc. Fiction emulates truth, and the ways we connect with each other. Romance is one of the many we form connections.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. For me it depends on the genre. If I’m reading a thriller, I don’t particularly like a romance element. I think it slows down the story. In a different genre, a romance would fit well. As for my own books, since I write thrillers, I don’t include much romance. It’s more on the periphery and stems from the relationships people have in their lives normally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, Carrie. It depends on the story and the character’s lives. I think most thrillers have romance elements because of the adrenaline rush, the increased hormones and connecting intimately with another because of the shared experience of excitement, suspense and/or fear.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ah… those tags… and love this topic. It covers the basis of true reading (and writing). For instance; It’s hard to say, ‘oh, I’m not going to read this book because it has (insert tag here) in it, or the story will fit my mood because it has (insert another tag)…

    …which ironically, (and all to say… to say…) sex, love, relationships is a way of life which the more I think on it, it’s in every single one of my books… some to more stringent degrees than others, THOUGH..THOUGH, for most this wasn’t something I consciously planned. And oh, Good Afternoon, Lidy! Thanks for posting a nice tea break!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks and thank you for stopping by. I wonder how much it is a conscious effort to include romance elements in our stories. And also about “tags” because even if you do find a book under a key term of interest, doesn’t mean you’ll actually like the book. Searching books by “tags” is like sifting for gold. Or better yet, “like a box of chocolate.”


    • Yeah me too. I still wonder why supernatural and paranormal or thrown together, when I feel there are 2 different genres though they exist in the same realm of other worldly, unnatural, magical, etc.


  4. I had no idea about BWWM or BWAM. I love that! I have a couple of WIPs that feature interracial couples, so I am jotting those down to remember them. Thanks!

    I always add romance to my stories. Whether the romance is big and powers the story, or is small and gives it a little extra something. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was the first time I’ve heard of those terms too. And did the same as you, jot them down to remember. It’s always great to learn something new, right?


  5. I’d never heard those terms before. It seems like there are a lot more acronyms than there used to be. I always include an element of romance because I enjoy stories that have that in them, not necessarily as the central focus, but still integral to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good to know as well. Makes it easier to find readers and for readers to find us. Also, I like to read stories that have some romance in it,like you said not as the central plot. Can go to romance novels for that. But I’ve never questioned it until now.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A pretty interesting and important discussion! I don’t mind a romance if it is outside of the romance genre… as long as it doesn’t get too overpowering when it comes to a plot. I especially love when I am reading a trilogy and there is no romance in book one – but perhaps it starts in book two or even later!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your input Olivia. It’s great to see how other readers and writers feel about romance plots. I don’t mind it myself unless it feels weird for it to be included in the narrative.


  7. I’m all for any kind of romance if I’m reading a romance novel, but I have to say it drives me crazy when I’m reading any other genre, and there’s a romance side-plot in there that does absolutely nothing to further the story or the characters. It feels like writers stick them in because they feel like they have to. I like them much better when they enhance and deepen the plot and the people. That’s my two cents 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I know what you mean. Romance as a form of human interaction and growth reads much better than love lines written just for the sake of it.


  8. It depends on the story. Lots of readers like romance (romance books sell more than others) but you always have to do what’s best for the story, because readers will know if something is forced. If it’s necessary, fine, but if it’s not (and you can pull of a great story without it), I don’t think readers would complain as long as the story was satisfying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, romance books is the number one selling genre in the publishing industry. Despite that, it’s true what you said about romance story lines. If it’s forced and if you have a great story without it, then you can do without.


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