Romance – Why People Read It

People write romance for all kinds of reasons. But if you’re considering starting your first love story, it’s a good idea to know why people read them.

Romance readers are mainly women, but not exclusively so. According to two studies commissioned by The Romance Writers of America, 22% of readers of romantic fiction are between the ages of 35 and 44, 19% between 25 and 34, 8% are 75 and older, and 1% are 13 or younger,78% are women and 22% men. In a Guardian UK article on the Mills & Boon centenary, romance writer Daisy Cummins wrote of romance fiction: “Many assume they are only read by the hopelessly unfashionable and out of touch, desperate for tales of helpless heroines swept off their feet by dashing, mildly brutish heroes.”

In fact, she is more likely to be “a successful, highly intelligent woman in her 20s or 30s. And neither these women nor the heroines they love are waiting for a man to come and rescue them”. Harlequin Executive Editor, Leslie Wainger, writes that most romance readers have some college education and many are educated professionals. Most work outside the home part or full-time, most are or have been married and many have children.

People read Romance for escapism. But if it were only that, they could read any genre fiction – and many readers are devoted to this particular form of escapism. The fact is, everyone in the world loves love. Listen to the words of most pop songs. And what’s a movie without a love interest? But again, that’s only part of it.

Most of us search constantly for emotional experiences, for an intensity that carries us beyond our everyday existence. Those who’ve found someone have probably moved into an everyday world of domesticity and kids – romantic intensity is hard to find between the briefcase and all the wet nappies.

Romance reminds us of what was and what might be. It returns us to a time when our hearts pounded and we could almost feel the blood rushing through our veins. Those who haven’t found love need to believe – that it’s possible, that it can still happen.

And maybe these are the reasons people are drawn to write and publish Romance. It’s a legitimate way to daydream. It’s not just permissible, but desirable, to climb inside the experiences you’re writing about – to live the story with your heroine, to feel what she feels and love with great intensity.