romance novel cover


One of the interview questions I used to ask at Microsoft when I wanted to probe someone’s intellectual vigour was to ask what book they were reading. A bad answer would be someone trying to impress me with ‘The Essentials of Windows Server Architecture’ or anything by Michael Porter. What did impress me was an answer I got (from someone I ended up hiring) who said, ‘I must confess that I have a guilty pleasure of romance novels. I devour them constantly.’ To me this was a great answer that implied an active mind that savoured stimulation.

Hugh recently put me on to some other benefits that romance novels can deliver in the piece “What Romance Novels Can Teach You About Powerful Copywriting”…

  • “I don’t think there’s a more scorned form of literature than the romance novel. ‘Bodice rippers,’ ‘trashy books’ or ‘that Harlequin crap’ are some of the more charitable terms I’ve heard. It was probably pure perversity that led me to try to write one. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, and I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did. The four romance novels I published taught me more about writing than anything else I’ve ever done. And when I began to write marketing materials, and later blogs, I realized that the key to writing romances is also the key to any kind of persuasive writing. No, contrary to popular opinion, it’s not the sex that gets the reader to turn those pages. It’s the pain. People who don’t read romances think they’re about some dumb Fabio type who rides a white horse and rescues a woman even dumber than he is. Try to write a plot like this and you’ll quickly gather a pile of rejection slips. Simplistic boy-rescues-girl stories don’t sell. Good romances show a couple who fight their way through a mountain of painful, difficult conflict before they get the reward of being together. Sure, the couple might be impossibly good-looking, and there might be some castles or cowboys involved. But beyond the trappings, a page-turning romance has at its core a whole lot of pain.”

Embrace the failure of approval by haughty critics and get insights into embracing the failure of an easy plot.

Still, I’m thinking maybe I should grow my hair long…