I don’t typically read traditional romance novels, but I do typically read reverse harem (#whychoose) novels. I clarify that because reverse harem and queer harem stories are what I want to write, but resources on how to write the sub-genre(s) are still very sparse. As a result, I have to utilize traditional romance resources for guidance on structure, conventions, etc. - which is fine, because many aspects carry over!
But there are some conventions listed that I don’t want to follow, even though they’re found in the broader genre and carry over into the sub-genre. These are things like, “The protagonist or primary POV character should be the one being pursued.” Typically in the heterosexual romance this ends up being the heroine of the story no matter how many heroes there are. You do see a singular hero fill the role in the traditional harem, though, but those don’t often get marketed as romance.
The thing is, conventions like these completely break my story. My leading lady is the pursuer and an active one at that. The men she ends in a relationship with aren’t her first choices - she’s actually rejected by her first choices - but they do end up being the right choices for her. It’s led me to question if this means she isn’t the right lead for this story (but if not her, who?) or if I’m not writing romance at all.
I know conventions can be broken, but should you break conventions to fit your story or should you break your story to fit conventions?