Romance fiction has a long and controversial history. Unfortunately, some think of the romance novel as a type of trashy literature that is read in secret. While these models certainly do exist, the core of the romance novel is a message of love.
The greatest love story ever told is the story of God’s love for humanity. This is what has been called “the Divine Romance”. From this divine romance, all romance flows.
In her critical work entitled, A Natural History of the Romance Novel, author Pamela Regis defines a romance novel as “a work of prose fiction that tells the story of the courtship and betrothal of one or more heroines” (p. 19). She goes on to discuss the eight essential narrative elements of the romance novel. These elements are as follows:
1) The state of the society which the heroine and hero will confront during their courtship;
2) The meeting of the heroine and hero;
3) The barrier to their relationship;
4) The attraction between the hero and the heroine;
5) The declaration of love;
6) The point of ritual death;
7) The recognition;
8) The betrothal/marriage.
In coming weeks, we will look at each of these eight elements in detail.
Source cited: Regis, Pamela. A Natural History of the Romance Novel. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.