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A romance author entertains her readers with stories that center around romantic relationships. Many people think only of romance novels, but there are also many romance authors who write other types of stories. A novel is generally considered to be a single story that is at least 30,000 to 40,000 words long, though most commercial novels found in bookstores are at least 80,000 words long. Shorter works that a romance author might write include flash fiction, short stories, novelettes and novellas. In addition to the different lengths, there are different sub-categories of romance as well as romance series.
The most popular and best-selling romance authors typically write novels. These can be stand-alone novels, with each book covering different characters, or they can be part of a trilogy or series of books following the same characters over time. Romance publishers also have series or lines of books for which they have specific requirements. For example, some require that the story includes couples who meet and get married, some forbid sex, and some require sex, among other guidelines. A romance author can tailor a novel to those requirements to increase her chances of being accepted into that line.
A romance author can also write short stories that typically run from 1,000 to about 10,000 words. Stories that are shorter than about 1,500 words are sometimes called short-short fiction or flash fiction. These are usually published in anthologies or magazines that feature romantic fiction, or in women's magazines that run short stories each month. A story of about 10,000 to 15,000 words is usually referred to as a novelette, while a story from 15,000 words up to novel length is often called a novella. Each publisher and magazine typically has its own specific definition for each length.
Authors in this genre may write novels or stories that focus heavily on romance but also contain strong elements of mystery, horror, science fiction, fantasy or other genre categories. Paranormal romance, for instance, typically contains such literary elements as ghosts or otherworldly creatures. Erotic romance stories and novels allow varying levels of sex, sometimes explicitly described. There are several different types of literature that can fall under the umbrella of romance, and many authors write in several of these categories.
A number of writers who can claim authorship of romance novels will also write in other lengths and forms. Shorter stories and novelettes generally only allow for a few characters and a straightforward storyline. Novellas and novels, because of the increased length, can have larger casts of characters, sub-plots and more overall depth. Writing in different forms allows a romance author to draw a wider audience for her books while experimenting with different types of storytelling.
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