Most of you writers who are seeking publication, or who have been published, are far more familiar with various categories, genres, and definitions of the rules governing those specifics than I. It seems every year or so new names for individual genre classifications arise adding more confusion - and rarely clarity - to the mix. And with those new classifications come a variety of new identifying rules for writing them.
Astute writers pay attention to these rules and make conscious decisions as to what categories their fiction adheres to. Perhaps one of the clearest and long-standing arenas of novels is the "category romance". Boy meets girl, boy and girl fight attraction, eventually succumb to said attraction, and find their way to love and the usually happily-ever-after syndrome. Statistics prove this formula is mucho successful in both the general market and the CBA market.
However, in the CBA market the rules for writing romance can be stringent and super specific depending on which publishing house is producing the novels. These rules are designed for a demographic which expects certain elements in their fiction. Whether or not this demographic established itself by expressing their expectations via communication with publishers or if it came by way of purchases which led to further precision in the design, it is a potent force in determining how romance novels are written in this Christian-based publishing leg of the overall industry.
I understand the necessity for formulaic writing. A lot of fiction readers enjoy predictability. Especially in their romances. This might be just a bit exaggerated in the CBA market because sexual references are tightly monitored by religious readers. And I use the term "religious" here for a specific reason. There are those in the Christian fiction market who will not tolerate those elements which make up sexual attraction and consequential dialogue. Period. They protest loudly and pass judgment on the books and authors who include anything not meeting their personal standards for "clean" and "righteous". Editors and publishers have been cowed by this majority in their chosen demographic and have actually constructed moderate changes to their products in second printings, eliminating the words or situations which raised the ire of their readers claiming such things were "inappropriate for Christian novels". Somehow the reality of sexual attraction and the challenges presented by normal human behavior is "inappropriate for Christian novels".
Although the general market provides category romance with all kinds of perverse liberties in their fiction, there is no immediate danger of the rules changing in Christian fiction to accommodate even the slightest bravery in writing honestly about sexuality. Romance is still generally predictable and formulaic to please the majority of those readers who have snuggled themselves comfortably into the prominent CBA clientele's sterile bedroom.
For the record, once again, I am not advocating graphic sexual content in CBA romance novels. I'm also not in favor of rewriting any rules for classifications or genre definitions, mind boggling as they sometimes can appear. Nor am I suggesting that publishing houses should lighten up or de-amplify their chosen restrictions because it's their business, their money, their profitability that's at stake. Therefore, it's their choice how they conduct their businesses.
But, and there's always a but when it comes to this topic, I choose to ignore the accepted rules for CBA romance novels, rewriting the rules of romance in my own kind of love stories. And accept the consequences of my actions. Fully.
Father, humanity corrupted what was once pure and lovely. You've redeemed love and romance. Help us to write that beauty in a fallen world. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.