01 April 2009

12 Things I Don't Like to See in a Romance

A while ago I ran across a writing article that got me to thinking. I don't even remember the title of the article or where I found it but I do remember it had something to do with knowing what you like to read in a romance.

I thought I could focus my own writing a little better if I wrote down what I didn't like to read. The assignment was interesting and a little eye opening and I thought I'd share it with you. Of course this isn't all inclusive and just because I list something it doesn't mean I'll put the book down. Sometimes, if things are well written and done right, I find that what I normally don't like, I don't mind so much. So, here goes:

1. Bad writing - This is very general and of course completely subjective. But seriously, if something is badly written I can't get past page 10 even if the plot is really compelling.

2. Hero and heroine that are movie stars - I'm not sure why this bothers me but it does. There's just something about a hero or heroine movie star that turns me off.

3. Too many subplots - I read romance for the romance. I don't want other subplots that take away from the romance or the hero and heroine's journey. Generally I don't even like a secondary romance. Just give me the main story and I'm happy.

4. Too many secondary characters - This is much like too many subplots. In my opinion, secondary characters take away from the main characters and the main plot. Not to mention that it confuses me. I can never remember who they all are and how they all fit together.

5. Too much sexual tension that it overshadows the plot and becomes unreal - I read romance for the romance, like I said. But it has to be realistic. I get tired of hearing about how good looking the hero is or how sexy the heroine or how they just want to fall into bed together. Give me a good story. Show me the emotion and some plot.

6. Hero too beta - I like my heroes alpha. A gentle side is okay but I definitely don't like a hero who stands back and lets things happen to him.

7. Heroine too brat-ish - I find these types of heroine's mainly in historicals for some reason. I picked up a Suzanne Enoch book (and let me note here that I love Suzanne Enoch books, especially the Sam and Rick series). The heroine was such a brat and so horrible to the hero that I was actually rooting for the hero to walk away from her. It was awful.

8. Sexual tension way too soon - Let the sexual tension build. The best romances are when the hero and heroine slowly discover each other. I don't like when you're hit with the sexual tension from page one because by page 100 you're sick of it. Let it build.

9. Hero's too tortured and unredeamable - Sometimes there is such a thing as too tortured. Some things people just can't overcome. For instance a lot of Anne Stuart's books I find the hero's are too tortured and when they're redeemed, it just doesn't seem real. Sometimes I think romance and maybe fiction altogether, plays serious issues too lightly. Sexual abuse is one of them. Yes, it makes for a great conflict but its a very serious issue that can't be resolved in 300 pages and neither should it be.

10. Hero and heroine are apart for too much of the story - Again, this is a romance. How are they supposed to get together in the end when they're apart for most of the story? Not too long ago I put a book down because I was well past page 100 and the hero and heroine had only been together in the first few scenes. They can't fall in love if they're not together.

11. A story that's all about sex - Some people like this and that's why erotic romance and erotica are so hot right now. I don't. And unfortunately there are a lot of romances that in my opinion should be labeled erotic romance because its all about the sex. Let your characters interact and, say, talk to each other every now and then!

12. Contrived emotion that makes me roll my eyes because its in an inappropriate place - This gets me every time. The hero and heroine are in a dangerous situation. The bad guy is after them. They don't know if they're going to get out alive. And yet they feel every touch and they're aroused by every breath. Come on! Let's be realistic here. If you're in a life and death situation you're not thinking about sex. You're thinking about getting out alive. That's all. You've got adrenaline pumping through your system and your body is definitely not feeling like having sex.

So there you have it, the top 12 things I don't like to see in the romances I read. What would you add?
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