Wednesday, March 16, 2011

By Alina Adams

In 2003, I wrote an article entitled Can Romance Readers Get Their Fix From Soap Operas? (well, technically, that's not what I called it, but that's the title it ran under).

Monday through Friday, from ten in the morning until four in the afternoon, the true romantic can flip the dial and lose themselves in ongoing stories ranging from teens stumbling through the pains of first love, to men and women who've suffered repeated and agonizing heartache gingerly taking another chance at happily-ever-after.

"A romance novel is the story of a hero and heroine who are leading separate lives, who find each other and decide to join their lives together," explains Dansby. "A soap opera, on the other hand, is many heroes and heroines engaging in many situations. What I personally prefer on a show is seeing different couples at different stages. You have one couple that's falling in love, you have one couple that's dealing with the challenges of new love, i.e. the: we've declared our love, now what? stage, and then you have a couple that's been in love for a while, but they have challenges like kidnapping or illness that they're dealing with. Because once you've told the story of their love, you've got to do something to keep the story going. You've got to break them up. Would we, as writers, prefer that they live happily ever after? Yes! Is it interesting to watch? No!"

It is, in fact, that stage of what happens after the declaration of love that most differentiates soap operas from a traditional romance novel.

As Robert Newman, who plays Josh Lewis on "Guiding Light," points out, "A romance novel is finite, while we have 16,000 episodes worth of shows that people who have been watching their entire lives are drawing on. A romance novel happens. It comes and it goes. A soap is more complex than that."

So are soaps and romance novels more alike than they are different? What do you think? Read the entire piece, here and tell us your thoughts below in the Comments section.

And while we're on the subject, please enjoy this classic Guiding Light clip of Blake on her honeymoon, imagining herself and Ross as the star players in a bodice-ripper. (At the 2:19 mark. The fact that the heroine's name is Subpeona still gives me the giggles many years later.)

Blake, of course, would go on to her own writing career as Darlena LaCrosse, fictionalizing her battle with Holly over Ross, as well as the tales of Selena and Miguel, and Harley and Mallet.

Check out her author home-page, here, complete with book excerpts and other goodies (thanks to the Internet's Way Back Machine).

As with ATWT Katie Peretti's Oakdale Confidential and Henry Coleman's The Man From Oakdale, I was the author behind Darlena/Blake, as well.

Friday, March 27, at 5 PM in Montclair, New Jersery, I will be on a panel at Watchung Booksellers discussing the topic: Genre Versus Literary Fiction. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello - there'll be food! And drinks! Complete details at this link.

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