Q&A With L.J.K. – What Is Romance?


I received this question back when I was still writing primarily romance. My current work skews more towards the urban fantasy side of the genre, however, I still like to spice it up from time to time. Enjoy!


Aye mama! Whats your opinion in romance? What is it to you? How would you define romance between a couple? Does it depend on that couple? Is it just sex or does romance have no definitive definition?

Hey M——!

Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you- my son has had the flu for the last couple days, and I didn’t want to respond until I had time to give you a thorough answer.

So! What is romance to me? First off, thanks for asking, because it got me to think about it more than I usually do. Also, let me apologize in advance, because I can already tell this answer is going to turn into a bit of an essay 😉

When I first started off writing romance, I wrote mostly from existing templates. All the relationships followed the same general trajectory, which looks something like this:

  • Couple meets
  • Couple is attracted to each other (physically, emotionally, or both)
  • Couple gets closer
  • Couple fools around(wink, wink)
  • Couple hooks up (aka, THE BIG SEXY)
  • Couple struggles with their growing feelings
  • Couple accepts their feelings
  • Couple confesses their feelings to each other

Like I said, this is pretty much the commonly accepted romance arc.

But after mulling over your follow-up questions, I realized I’ve actually been deviating from this template for some time now. I think it’s because every couple IS different. Every romantic relationship is NOT the same. And I’ve come to believe that those differences are what make a story really compelling.

Let me address the specific questions you sent me one-by-one.

How would you define romance between a couple?

Personally, I would define romance between a couple as any way in which a couple expresses love for each other.

There’s a concept called “love language” that speaks to this rather beautifully. The concept states that each person has their own unique way of expressing and receiving love. Some people require physical contact to feel loved and appreciated. For others, simply saying and hearing “I love you” is enough. Some people express love through gifts, others through taking care of someone.

Relationships between people with differing love languages may LOOK very different to outside observers, but the end result is the same: the expression and acceptance of love.

Does it depend on that couple?


You can’t just think of a couple as “a couple”. You have to take into account the individual personalities involved. Because people are unique, of course their relationships are going to be unique, too.

Is it just sex or does romance have no definitive definition?

Sex definitely plays a role (okay, a HUGE role) in romance. That said, if the sole basis of the relationship is sex, eventually you’re going to have a problem. Circumstances may arise when sex just isn’t feasible (I know, I know, perish the thought). If or when that happens, you/your characters need something solid to fall back on.


If you’re looking for just one “master definition” for what romance is, I don’t think you’re going to find it. But that doesn’t mean no definition exists. It just means the people involved need to create it for themselves.

Anyway, good talk! I hope this at least comes close to what you were looking for. Thanks again for asking me! I’m seriously honored that you did.


Do you have a question?
I’m currently taking questions about my writing specifically, writing in general, specific craft questions, indie publishing, and pretty much anything else word-related.
Email me at lauraolivabooks@gmail.com, tag me on Twitter (@writermama), or message me on Facebook. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Published by L.J.K. Oliva

L.J.K. Oliva writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, with a heavy dash of suspense. She likes her whiskey strong, her chocolate dark, and her steak bloody. Most of all, L.J.K. likes monsters... and knows the darkest ones don't live in closets.

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