For this, and any other Wacky Writing Ideas, I happily release them into the wild for anyone to use. If you like the idea and want to write it up, do so with my blessing! If you want to change it or use it for something else, have at it! If you really want to do something nice for me, feel free to acknowledge me and let me know if you’ve used one of them (I’ll link to your creative work from my blog). If you don’t feel like it, no worries. If there’re a few comments with enthusiasm for an idea, I may write it up, so please comment if it sounds like something you’d like to read.
Most romance novels follow an established, iron-clad outline that readers seek out and expect. Harlequin romance calls this a “format” and they insist all stories have them. Half-jokingly, Joe McAleer described this as “Boy meets girl, boy loses girl on page 56, and, by page 180, the book would end with a marriage proposal.” The enduring popularity of romance and the mind-boggling quantity produced and specificity of sub-genres shows how much diversity is possible within this framework.
The core of this wacky writing idea is a series of romance novels for readers who are tired of the underlying foundation of this format: that the protagonist needs to form a permanent relationship at the end of the story to complete them.
Instead, each book would be about a specific romance, which contributes to the protagonist’s development. The series as a whole would be focused on the development of that character and they would probably progress from being a hot mess at the beginning of the first book to having their life together further along.
The development certainly WOULDN’T be their romantic partner teaching them, but instead lessons they learn themselves from, or while in, the relationship.
Each book would start with the new romance and end with their break-up.
The biggest challenge to this would be packaging the books and clearly conveying to readers what they should expect. Romance readers expect a happily-ever-after at the end, and there will be deeply disgruntled readers if that’s what they’re expecting and they don’t get it. When I described this idea to my wife, she said that she’d enjoy it but romance readers would hate it.
I don’t read any romance, so this isn’t something I would be capable of writing, but perhaps someone who writes romance would find this an interesting project…