Monday, February 8, 2010

A Sad Day

I know it's "romance" month... but today is a sad sad day. My *sniff* Colts lost. *sigh* Let's all have a moment of silence...

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Okay, now that we've got that over with...

ROMANCE novels! Last week we talked about our FAVORITE ones, what makes a GREAT one, and then ended by dreaming about romantic destinations.

Today... let's talk about--

Pet Peeves!

I'm tiptoeing slightly here, because I don't want this to be a negative post, and my intent is not to put writer's down who have done my particular pet peeves. I'll preface this that we all have our own set of what we like and don't like. It's why books are so subjective. What one person thinks makes an AWESOME novel... someone else might groan at.

But today, I want to focus specifically on the romance genre, because while we learn a ton by discussing what makes a GREAT book, it's also important that we know what readers are annoyed by, what makes them frustrated--besides bad writing of course! Also, what is a "not so great" thing in romance might be perfectly acceptable and wonderful in women's fiction or suspense or what-not.

So... without further explanation, Krista's PERSONAL romance novel pet peeves:
  1. Zero attraction. I'm trying to stay away from noting the opposite of my "must haves" from last year, but this is a huge one for me. Especially in Christian romance, there are some lines regarding the big S word that we can and can't cross. And while I REALLY appreciate the lines, as I don't care to read a play by play of certain, ahem, actions, I also get frustrated when I get to the end of the book and the characters get together, but there seemed to be ZERO attraction between the two. While physical attraction should NOT be the only thing a relationship is built on, in all relationships, and especially a romance novel, it can't be ignored. Romance is more than just a couple deciding to get married. It's the dance between two people, the wooing of one to another, the element that makes our hearts race a little faster. So, yes, please leave out the explicit sex scenes, but not the romance, sexual tension, attraction, etc.
  2. A dissatisfying ending. There is a HUGE difference between an love story and a romance. A romance novel should ALWAYS have a happily ever after where hero and heroine end up together. Zero exceptions. I should have a big sigh and a smile on my face as I close the book, not sobs and the urge to throw the book through the window.
  3. Slightly off subject, but a personal pet peeve of mine is when a book LOOKS like a romance from the cover and title... but when you read it, it's anything but. MAJOR let down, and I'm less likely to pick up a book by said author after that. Whereas, if I'd have known it wasn't a romance, I would have set my expectations as such.
  4. Stupid characters. I know we have to add conflict and tension, and keep the story building, but sometimes, on occasion, authors stoop (or better said, make characters stoop) to levels of stupidity to create that conflict. I can suspend quite a bit of reality when I read books, we all have to, because face it, fiction is highly fiction. But there is a point that is too far, where it makes conflict between Hero/Heroine seem author forced instead of character driven.
  5. Going on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about pretty much nothing. You've read the books... the pages of emotional angst from a character where they just lament about the same thing over and over and over and (okay, you get the point.) Or sometimes it could be pages of vast descriptions over a setting that you know the author really loves, because they describe it to us in a billion different ways. I must confess though: I have the opposite problem when I write. I tend to forget to tell you what my characters look like and have to go add it back in. So this is a two-way street. Too little or too much, both are not great!
Discussion: Lots of things to discuss today. Feel free to give our eulogy for the Colts, share your nicely worded/non-book naming pet peeves, or what habits do YOU have in your writing that you know you need to work on (i.e. my penchant for not telling you about my character's blond hair!)

18 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

Oh, those are my pet peeves! Especially the NO attraction thing! And the going on and on and on and on and on and zzzzzz.....................

Jessica said...

I hate NO attraction. Seriously, come on Christians. LOL Haven't some of these authors read Song of Solomon??? *Grin*

Pet peeves..hmmm..well, as much as I love a good physical attraction, I don't like when it's described in cliche ways. Or unbelievable ones. Tingles are okay but to me that liquid feeling in the gut is a better way to explain attraction. Mmmm, getting too smiley here so I'm moving on. LOL

I probaly use too much emotional angst. Not sure yet, but sometimes I think my stories are too plot-light, if that makes sense.

Have a great day! Sorry about your colts. :-)

Valerie said...

I'm over here sad with you about the Colts. :)

SM Blooding said...

Those are some GOOD pet peeves. My other one is head hopping in the middle of a very intense, emotional (usually very physical as well) scene.

WHY do I need to know what HE's thinking AND what she's thinking? Do YOU take the time, hit the pause button on that one rare moment of intimacy and go, "Honey, what are you thinking?"

If you do, seriously, you probably will not have many intimate moments. But that's just the thoughts...of a rather...cynical old biddy who doesn't get a lot of those intimate moments. *angelic blinking stare*

Franki9e

Sarah Forgrave said...

I'm a fellow Colts fan in mourning. Unfortunately, I don't think we got outplayed last night...I think we got outcoached. *sigh*

Anyhoo, I agree with the attraction thing. The other thing that bugs me is a shallow plot used just to put two people together.

jess said...

That's a good one, SM.
Ooooh, Krista, I know you said not to name names, but I think we read the same one for #3. :)
I don't like it when I feel like someone's held a gun to the writer's head and said "You must have an external plot as well as an internal one!" Or vice versa. I like it when the two are joined together seamlessly, not forced between the pages of the same book.

Diane said...

So sorry for the Colts loss! Similar pet peeves here.

Hope you'll join me for how "Cupid Shot Me" day at my bog www.dianeestrella.com :O)

Kaye Dacus said...

What makes me put down a romance novel faster than just about anything is an immature, spoiled rotten, snap-my-fingers-and-they-come-running heroine who stays that way through the entire book. The kind of character everyone else has to change to suit. The kind who uses tears to manipulate the hero and thinks no less of herself for doing it. The kind who nags him for the "guy" things he does (watching football, hanging out with his male friends) instead of learning to compromise and love him for everything he is.

I see this more in chick lit than in true romance novels, but there have been several romance novels in which I've seen these kinds of characters. Needless to say, those books are no longer on my shelves.

patti said...

Oh, no. I'm wearing my "Who Dat?" shirt. Sniff. Are you gonna delete my post from here?

I am a Louisiana girl, you know. with a book called "What the Bayou Saw."

Does that count?

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I agree on those, Krista! You said it well!

Krista Phillips said...

Patti, I'll forgive you of your wayward team affiliation... 70 x 7 right??

*grin*

Jaime said...

I hate stupid men. Characters I mean. (wow, that sounded really mean). No, I hate wussy men that the heroine can run right over and leave black tread marks on his face. As much as I love the show Everybody Loves Raymond, that's the type of guy I'm talking about. Debra ruled him and he was a dufus. Great for a sitcom but not a romance. He needs to have the ability to conquer the heroine, BUT, choose to woo her and cherish her instead. I love controlled power. mmmmm... delicious.

And yes, no explicit sex scenes. I can get the idea without the full effect, thank you very much.

Jaime said...

btw, GO SAINTS!!! WOOOOOOO!!! ;)

Jody Hedlund said...

I agree with your pet peeves, Krista! Writing romances isn't as easy as people think, is it? It really does take a balance to hold out the relational conflict for the entire book without making one or another of our characters unlikeable.

Koala Bear Writer said...

Everything too perfect. I'm reading a novel right now where everything is falling together for the heroine; nothing wrong ever happens; her love life is perfect. The biggest crisis is that her boyfriend has an accident and disappears for a few days. No conflict in their relationship (seriously, what relationship has no conflict?). It feels like what's the point of the story; there's no reason to keep reading, no suspense. I don't want to read about perfect people living perfect lives; I want to read about imperfect people living tough lives (like me!).

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

If it's a romance, I want the happily ever after ending. I don't want them agreeing to get to know each other better. What have they been doing through the whole book? I want them married at the end.

I need to work on giving more setting. A reader doesn't appreciate a stage with no scenery.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

I was sad that the Colts lost too. Oh well, maybe next year:)

Many of these are my pet peeves too, or at least things I'd aim to avoid/include in a romance. Had to chuckle about the 'on and on' part. Balance is always good.

Enjoyed the post!
Blessings,
Karen

Elana Johnson said...

I actually think your points can be applied to ANY novel. I mean, who wants to read about stupid characters that go on and on? Great points!

I don't like relationships that are "instant" or rushed. You know?