The random—and not so random—musings of a quirky Regency romance writer.
No one with that many people in her head can possibly be normal...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

♥ Romance Opinions ♥ Sweet, Traditional, & Clean: What's the difference?

Sweet, to me, implies a certain lightness to the story. I sometimes refer to it as fluffy, though not everyone considers that a positive thing. I don't think it's a bad thing, just a different type of story. There's nothing too traumatic happening and definitely nothing graphic. Very little profanity or violence, if any.

Traditional romance I typically consider any romance that leaves the sexual details to the imagination, regardless of genre. That most traditional romances are also sweet isn't much of a coincidence; they go hand-in-hand, for the most part. However, I've read a few (and written a few) that leave out the sex (or at least the details) but touch on subjects that make your stomach clench. Hard to refer to stories like that as sweet.

Then there's clean romance which I pretty much consider the same as traditional. I've noticed some are offended by the term clean, however, as they believe it implies sexually detailed romances are then dirty. To each his own. I call mine clean because the sexual details aren't there but sweet they are not. 

The only difference I see is in each person's opinion. I view clean, sweet, and traditional in much the same light. But when the storyline gets into rough territory, I have a hard time calling it sweet.

There's a discussion on this subject in the Clean Romances group on Goodreads. (Funny, since I actually wrote this blog post back in December '11 and never published it.)

Then there are the differing views on "clean" in general. How much detail is too much detail before it's left the realm of clean and turned into something else? But that's another blog post entirely. lol

This is all just my own opinion and I'm sure not everyone would agree. So tell me, what do you think?

Traditional Regency Romance...with an Edge 


Anonymous said...

Wonderful topic! I consider my romance's as clean rather than sweet...since mine is mixed with mystery/murder, sweet doesn't seem quite right. I don't think of the other side of 'clean' as dirty, but I never really though about it. I could see how that could be seen as judgemental or offensive. I read all types of romance, but write, we will say traditional, romances...but that doesn't mean prudish either. Sexual tension can help make the story, and the illusion to sex behind closed doors, even more romantic.
Author Ursula Gorman

Linda said...

There are differing views. I don't consider my stories "dirty" but they are not squeaky clean by a long shot. As you know, this feeling of not belonging anywhere prompted me to suggest a Love With The Lights Off group on Goodreads. Those stories definitely have heat, however, details are left to the reader's imagination - the bedroom light has been turned off so you don't see anything!!!

Rachel Rossano said...

All of these categories impress me as vague. I only gained a definition of "sweet" when I encountered other writers who avoid the bedroom scenes and focus on the relationships. I still hesitate to use it to describe my own novels because the word brings with it images of Barbara Cartland novels. Not that I have anything against Barbara Cartland (I have quite a few of her books about), but they tend to be a great deal of fluff and not much character or plot. My work isn't like hers, I hope.

"Traditional" is a term I just recently encountered. The definition I stumbled across seemed more to do with having a m/f romance with a happily ever after ending than any other aspect.

I use the term "clean" toward my own romances since I don't describe sex or use strong language (though my characters do off the page). My main characters tend to be moral people with some flaws.

I have read some supposedly "sweet" stories lately that I wouldn't consider sweet. In my opinion (which is not the same as others), the characters spent far too much time exposing what was under under clothing, thinking about the deed, and flirting around the deed for me to consider the romance clean or sweet. They basically were on the brink of the deed multiple times, but never fell over the edge for contrived reasons. The emotional (as opposed to the hormonal) relationship seemed to be shortchanged. The emotional connection is the one I am looking for when I pick up a clean or sweet romance. Attraction and sexual tension should be there, but I expect more from adults than a hormonal teenage obsession with sex. Sorry, I kind of got off on a tangent there. Please forget me. It is just my opinion. ;)

I would consider yours on the darker side of clean, not sweet. According to the definition I encountered before, your stories are definitely traditional (HEA endings). I hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Rachel Rossano said: "The emotional connection is the one I am looking for when I pick up a clean or sweet romance."

Yes. That's what I look for as well. I tend to get irritated if I'm told a book doesn't have a sex scene, then find out it does. It's not that it cheapens it, it's like a distraction almost.

It's why movies like Sabrina and The Mirror Has Two Faces are such favorites of mine. Time is spent on the friendship, emotions, and passion between the characters instead of on the titillation. The stories come out richer as a result.

Obviously, there are exceptions, but this seems to be the rule.

Anna L. Walls said...

Just like in real life, writing as well as reading romance must fall within our comfort zone to be liked. The terms you use, I agree with, but everyone has their own definition of such terms.

Reina said...

I too have a hard time applying "sweet" to romances which are darker. No judgement either way, but I agree that "sweet" implies a certain lightness. I like the terms "traditional" and "clean" but I've started labeling the heat level in my books because we all have such different takes on what terms mean.

Jaimey Grant said...

I help moderate the Clean Romances group on Goodreads and realized that while my books leave out the sexual details, the darker themes really don't fit in there. That's why I agreed to start the Love With the Lights Off group (moderating with Linda). There seems to be a middle ground between clean and graphic and we want authors of such romances to have a place to feel comfortable.

Thank you all for stopping by and adding your opinions to the mix! ♥


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