Problems with reading (and writing) romance

The book I’ve been working on for months is going to be rewritten next month for Camp NaNoWriMo which is super exciting.

The book I have plotted out and only made a 7.5K dent in is sitting there, simmering away… It’s such a good idea, but I can’t get excited about it. Of course, there are people who just come up with good ideas and don’t have to execute them. The thing is, I want to get this one going, but like my YA novel, it will have to be a complete rewrite. I think.

Theres this silly notion that writing romance is easy because it’s formulaic. I don’t think it is, though romance novels do have the expectation of a happy ever after ending (also known as HEA which sounds like a medical term for something gross).

What’s worse than writing romance is wading through bad romance books. Some total turn offs:

  • too much description of the when and where. It’s the who I care about.
  • investing in a romantic story line, only to have it fail. It’s fine if the couple break up, but if there isn’t any tension between the characters but everyone around them says they like each other, this drives me nuts.
  • reading books by the same authors who do the same thing with different characters. Not all romance books are the same, but they are if the man is a grumpy widower and the woman is a clueless and incompetent housekeeper.
  • one sided relationships. I don’t mind if both characters are unsure if the other loves them, but when one loves the other when the other (to quote my fave movie) ‘dothn’t’, it’s a really long and boring read. Case in point: Tully by Paullina Simons. Tully’s husband has loved her for fifteen years and it’s only the day before they are supposed to get divorced that she finally says ‘I’ve always loved you, Robin’. No, you haven’t, Tully. Your excuses are weak, and you have only ever loved one person who is now dead. THAT is the whole premise of the book. Geez.
  • Love triangles when you know that the goober boy won’t get the girl. Twilight for example. We all know Jacob and Bella aren’t going to get it on. Man, Jacob is super-cala-freakin’-hot but that doesn’t mean I want to watch Bella string him along for endless pages just because she doesn’t want to lose him… as a friend.
  • Now, I don’t believe in the friendzone, I think that’s a great sign of entitlement, but in romance novels, the old fall in love with your (suddenly handsome) best friend is a great trick. What’s not a great trick is the Duckies of literature. Though, this is a hard act to follow. Of course, all great romance novels need a helpful friend who helps them do something to get the hero’s attention, but this really needs to not be someone in love with the heroine, unless there’s a great reason for it.
  • Sexy times for the sake of it. Look, I love/hate Fifty Shades and all, but I don’t want to read about sex most of the time. I also don’t want to read it if it’s Christian romance and there is references to “the male part of him”, because, no.
  • Speaking of Fifty (the man, not the name of the series — the narrator also calls him Fifty as an internal nickname, like Mr Big and Carrie, but for her mind only. I think all the SATC girls called him that.), I also don’t love characters who do everything for their lady. This all started in the Ann M Martin’s classic Mary Anne Versus Logan. As cool as Logan was, one day he started doing things like ordering food for Mary Anne, his 13 year old girlfriend, and she didn’t like it and he didn’t like that she didn’t like it. *le sigh. Open the car door, sure, cardboard tasting food from the Rosebud Cafe, no.
  • Last one — the perfect looking guy. All men in romance novels should have their flaws (there wouldn’t be an conflict if they didn’t), and physically, surely there has to be something not perfect about them. Just something! I don’t care if it’s weird shaped birthmark on their knee (hello again, 500 Days of Summer), make it something, please romance writer.

Well, I think I managed to list out lots of my faves in a post about romance tropes, so I’d say I’m going pretty well here.

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I like books, rubber ducks, 90s pop music and putting words on paper. Wrote a thesis on romance. Tea and learning tarot.

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