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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Clean with violence?

Mostly, Clean Romances in all their subgenres are known not only for being clean in the romance area, but also in regards to violence. It's pretty simple - no violence at all, or if there is some, it implied or extremely light. A quick punch or kick and the curtain closes on the scene.

Now, I have to admit, my books don't always conform to the strictest lines of these guidelines. Not just for the sake of violence, but because the storyline requires the altercations.

A story can't be sweet with violence, it's kind of an oxymoron. But can it still be clean? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Haha. I sure hope you're not talking about me. lol

    Let's hope so "clean" defines my books. I chose clean because sweet didn't fit. Violence can be many things to many people. Most of the "clean romance" groups I've belonged to in the past have considered books between PG and PG-13 (movie ratings) to be clean. The PG-13 rating is a tough one because there's an awful lot of stuff shown and said in PG-13 that I wouldn't show in a book.

    And that PG rating is even a tough one. My daughter had a friend in high school whose family didn't watch anything but G rated movies. Well, I have a Shirley Temple movie that's rated PG. Why? Because the main character's mother dies and the target audience is young children. Some would find that more difficult. Pirates of the Caribbean was the first Disney movie--under the Disney label--to be PG-13. Considering that, once again, the target audience was children it seemed wise to warm parents that young children might be troubled by it.

    Some people may not remember the old TV westerns. Lone Ranger. Bonanza. Gunsmoke. There was violence. It just wasn't graphic violence. Even the Brady Bunch of the 60s had some violence. Or even the movies of that time period had violence.

    Sometimes stories include tough things that happen to people. I try not to wallow in it, but the reader needs to know enough to understand why the character may have been traumatized by what happened. PTSD doesn't usually happen because someone snaps at you and says something cross.

    I'll be interested to know what others think.

  2. I thought:
    "Sweet" romance means no sex. "Clean" means if something is violent, the reader doesn't see it--it isn't described. I thought these were G rating, as soon as it is described or someone swears it moves out of these descriptions. Now I wonder?

  3. Typically, when I hear "clean," I think "no sex." But if I pick up a book that has a ton of violence in it, I wouldn't necessarily think of it as "clean." But like Donna was saying, the word "clean" means different things to different people. At a previous job, I was an acquisitions editor, and the guidelines of the company stated that we were looking for clean manuscripts. You would not believe the stuff I was sent. One man told me he was sending "tasteful erotica." Another woman was flat-out shocked when I told her that the book she had sent in didn't meet our guidelines - she had no idea that what she'd written wasn't appropriate. So yeah, it will mean different things to different people. Other readers get offended if the characters share one quick kiss.

  4. I've always described my romances as "clean," but because they're set in the Middle Ages, all of my novels have violence in them. It was a rough-and-tumble age. My books have sword fights, fist fights, knights clashing together in tournaments. Does that mean they're unclean? I'd be worried after reading this post, except for the fact that nearly every review of my books on Amazon and Goodreads describe them as "clean." Readers may or may not enjoy the plots or my writing style, but no one has ever said my books were "unclean due to violence" in a review. So I think I"ll just keep doing what I'm doing and trust my readers to call my books how they see them. :-)

  5. LOL! I'm glad this post has you all talking. I actually wasn't thinking of anyone's work in particular, except maybe my own. I was reading an article the other day which stated clean romance shouldn't have any descriptive violence in it. It took me aback, because my stories all do - nothing that doesn't make sense with the story line, and to varying degrees based on the book and story line. Still, it got me thinking, and so I wrote this today :)

    1. Phew. lol I'm with you. As much as we would like violence not to be a part of our world, it is. And it impacts us. If we're going to address real issues for our characters, we sometimes have to touch on it.

      I'm with Joyce. As I've checked reviews for Torn Canvas (I should stay away from doing that because it's dangerous), so often readers had talked about how I handled the bad things that happened in the story with discretion. That's what consider a clean read.