World Building vs. Relationship Building

One thing contemporary romance writers don’t have to worry about is world building. After all, the setting of contemporaries, by definition, is the world as it is today. The characters are regular human beings with no special powers, and the settings are identifiable. All I have to do is mention New York or Paris or London, and you automatically have a picture in your head, even if you’ve never personally visited those places before.

Those of us who write speculative fiction like SFR or PNR have a much more difficult time. I can’t just refer to planet Quixotok and expect you to form a mental image of it. Is it a desert planet? Jungle? Industrial? Are the skies blue or purple or red? Is there even any breathable air there? I have to describe this planet if I want the reader to visualize it. I also have to go into a certain amount of detail about the people/aliens, culture, and customs on this planet, the same as I would need to describe the special abilities and social arrangement of any group of paranormal creatures I might create in another book.

While I’m building this whole world for these aliens or supernaturals, I also have to make sure I spend enough time on the romance. The relationship between the main characters has to build too. It’s not always easy to balance those two elements, and there’s rarely a perfect 50/50 split. If there’s more world-building than romance, the book tends to get classified, for example, as romantic science fiction or science fiction with strong romantic elements.  If the romance is definitely the main focus, then the work gets classified as a Romance, but with the subgenre Sci-Fi or Fantasy or Paranormal.

What kind of balance do you like to see in your mixed-genre romances?

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