According to the Romance Writers of America, a rule of the romance genre is that the story must end optimistically, meaning that the reader should leave the story feeling “emotionally satisfied”. The role, seemingly of the romance writer, is to capture the happily-ever-after vibe.
On the other hand, love stories can be more "realistic and nuanced" in their portrayal of love. They are allowed to play and engage with the intricacies - good and bad of relationships. This allows for the ways that they are concluded to be down to the authors’ discretion. They need not solely end happily, they are allowed to be sad; ending in break-ups, or tragic; ending suddenly because of the realities of life.
Learning this really struck a chord with us, so we went to our in-house experts to find out if the definitions set out by the Romance Writers of America stands true for the Black women writers on our list.
To that end, we asked them the question: What Makes A Love Story?
Frances Mensah Williams | From Pasta to Pigfoot & Second Helpings
What makes a love story is not the unusual meet-cute, the instant spark of attraction disguised as friction, or even the magical first kiss. That makes a romance, not a love story.
A love story is travelling with our couple on their journey to love. It is riding the emotional rollercoaster with them and wondering if these two souls are truly destined to be together.
It is seeing our couple struggle. The frustration as we wonder if they will hold onto their connection while they navigate ego, pride, trauma, relationship baggage, and the additional hurdles tossed in their way. The agony when we fear they may never be open to trusting themselves, let alone each other.
A love story is watching our couple stumble across the obstacles: the misunderstandings, the heated words, and the bruised feelings. It is seeing them find their way back to themselves and to each other – transformed, wiser, and utterly perfect in their imperfections.
That is what makes a love story.
Kerika Fields Nalty | With Your Bad Self
A Love Story is two people discovering each other and revealing their true selves in the process. It is vulnerability, fearlessness and faith!!
Maame Blue | Bad Love
What makes a love story? I need stakes. I need angst. I need an anti-hero with a complicated past and a love interest who doesn't know the kind of intense passion they're about to be hit with. But most of all, I need a deeply engaging character arc of one or both people, so that I'm invested whether they fail or succeed.
Let the setting feed the budding relationship, so that everything lives and dies depending on how well the romance is going. And a left field ending where they don't end up together - that always keeps me happily frustrated.
Lisa Bent | Symona’s Still Single
A good love story is grounded in realism and intertwines common themes, flaws, vulnerability, difficulties, and desires from a believable protagonist. The moment the eyes of two strangers lock, should tap into all the feels as it is THE reminder that universal timing and chemistry exist and IS the pinnacle moment of where the love journey begins.
The writers’ descriptions, expressions and writing style causes the page turners and in turn, the reader struggles to put the book down.
The characters' trials and tribulations, full of varying honesty, growth, pain, joy and empowerment should produce a wealth of emotions and opinions from the reader.
A good love story also has the ability to gently nudge the reader into their own introspection to question their own love story, level of self-worth and self-love.
Do the words of these authors match up their proclamations about the genre? Only way to find out is by diving into their stories and getting lost in the brilliant diasporic love stories that they have delivered.