I rolled my eyes when I read that. I can’t remember where it was, but it was a throwaway line in someone’s comment about writing fiction. That of all the genres, romance was the easiest. Because mystery has the mystery to write about and fantasy has the politics and the world building and literary fiction is Important (with a big, fat, capital “I”) so romance (whether YA or adult) is the microwave TV dinner of fiction. Just throw two people together, make ’em hate each other for awhile, make ’em kiss, VOILA! You have a book.
Okay, I’m not even going to start some kind of war about which genre is the easiest to write or research or anything like that. I’m just not. It’s Monday, I haven’t consumed anything caffeinated yet, I already had to trudge everyone down to the doctor’s for my youngest’s regular check-up, and so anything borderline controversial or drama-creating is not going to happen here.
But I’ll give you my experience writing in a few different genres, and you can chime in with your thoughts at the end, if you feel so inclined.
I’ve written historical, romance and mystery and gaslamp fantasy. I’ve written dystopian. I’ve written more straight-up fantasy. I’ve written YA. I’ve written contemporary romance. I’ve written sci-fi. I’ve probably dipped my toe into other genres I can’t even recall right now (no coffee yet, remember?) and do you want to know which was the most difficult, the most taxing mentally?
All of them.
Yeeeaaaah, I said it.
You could look at that as a cop-out answer, but it truly isn’t. They were all difficult. Because here’s the thing: No matter your backdrop, no matter if you’re setting up a whole new world from your imagination or your characters are casting spells or searching for a murderer or pondering the meaning of life or falling in love (or out of it), you still have to write real, believable characters for all of these points to revolve around. Just because I’m writing a story where two people fall in love at the end (or at the beginning, but with a sufficient amount of roadblocks in the way) doesn’t mean that particular tale was the easy one to write.
Romance still means research, even if it’s not historical. What sort of jobs do my characters have? Where do they live? Have they suffered some major loss or abuse before we meet them? Can I make the reader even bother to give a crap whether or not these knuckleheads manage to end up together at the end? Can I keep it from turning into pure maudlin drivel?
These are not easy things to pull off, they’re just not. And yes, you could say that writing these same characters (who may or may not fall in love) and then dropping them into a historical world or a steampunk world or a world where everyone talks in Hemingway dialogue or a world where they have to fight a dragon suddenly raises the level of difficulty ten times over. But I’m not completely certain that it does.
We’ve all read bad books. We’ve all read books with cardboard characters, lifeless dialogue, ones that were riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes, with staccato pacing. (And I’m not talking one single genre here, either.) Making all of those things come together smoothly is no mean feat. It is hard *insert expletive of your choice* work. No matter the genre. So if you look down on certain genres because they’re silly or romantic or “kid’s stuff”, I’m giving you the side eye. I’m also giving you the side-eye if you’re writing a certain genre because you think it’s easier than all the others.
If it is, then you’re probably doing it wrong.