The need to connect
Author Jennifer Crusie believes that the hero and heroine need a deep emotional connection for the love to be believable, and the reader must be convinced that connection will continue when the book ends. Achieving that is hard, Crusie says, but it’s the key to a great novel.
Why is romance popular?
The basic fantasy of romance, I think, is the gold ring for all human beings. Which is that we live alone, we die alone. It is really important to connect. You only connect. And that the most powerful connection is that life partner relationship. Somebody who understands you, someone who will stay with you, somebody who you support. The person that you almost merge into and become a single entity as this couple. It’s very, very hard to achieve. And I think the basic romance is about that. I don’t even want to call it a fantasy because it’s achievable — that wish to be part of someone else. That wish to make that partnership that will support and nourish you and inform who you are your entire life.
Is every romance the same?
One woman’s hero is another woman’s nightmare. So because of that, you have a great span of love interests and how this plays out. But we were talking about the spectrum of romance. If you structure it from very conservative to very liberal for example, and you’re talking about the romances where the heroine is a virgin or never has sex outside of marriage, very conservative romances. That same core is still there. She may not be as aggressive and the story may not be as sexual as far as the bonding plays out in, not only the emotional but the physical sense. But it is still finding that other person. Not who will take care of you, but will form this bond where you take care of each other and love each other and support each other. That’s definitely in there.
And in the middle, I think, is most of modern romances, where sexuality is definitely a part of it because that physical bond feeds the emotional bond, but the emotional bond is still the thing that sells it. Because people, everybody over twenty has had a passion that was sexual, and it was wonderful and then two weeks later you looked at it and went, “What?” You know great sex does not sell a romance. It literally, physically creates a bond, there is no doubt about that, and that is a real world thing. But you cannot build a relationship on great sex. So the middle, then, is talking about the relationship, talking about the community, talking about the… exploring all those aspects, with the idea of building this assumption, this belief in the reader that, yes, when they are 60, they will still be together and they will still be laughing and they will still be strong.
I think the farther end then would be erotica, which again is about finding a bond with someone else. But at the basis, it is always “this is forever.” This is a couple that will make it for the long run, because they are true soul mates, because they are bonded. And that is the gold ring for all human beings I think.