27 February 2009

Enough, already!

There's always that point in a paranormal romance where the hero/heroine has to tell their new love exactly what they are OR the powers they possess. In standard form, the revelation causes a change in the relationship -- at least temporarily -- and can add to the obstacles faced by the pair.

For example, the heroine discovers her hero is a vampire. There's a time that she can't believe she's fallen for a monster. How can she love a killer? A predator? Will he turn on her when the blood-count is down?

Of course, as the reader we know that acceptance will somehow follow. It has to -- this is romance. ;) But as a writer, this whole revelation/repulsion/fear/acceptance thing isn't always easy to plan. You can't let your heroine accept things too quickly -- the readers won't buy it. But if you drag it out too long it seems you're just doing so to up the word count.

What's a writer to do?

Now I have a complaint, but I'll admit something before I make it: I've become an extremely picky reader since I started writing professionally. Before I had no idea what 'head-hopping' was, let alone 'point of view', 'showing vs telling', etc. Sometimes all this knowledge makes it difficult to just enjoy a book.

However, I'm currently reading a vampire romance -- not a Samhain title -- and I'm finding this revelation/repulsion/etc stage is really dragging down the plot. Dragging it down to the point of me yelling at the heroine:

"Enough, already! Get over it!"

She loves him. She's slept with him, repeatedly. She's seen by his actions that he's NOT a murdering monster. So it seems, from my viewpoint as reader, that the writer is just dragging it out until all the other issues are put to rest.

I feel the writer's pain. It's so hard to know when to move on in an emotional arc. How much angst should the heroine suffer before she gives in to the dark side? How much distrust should there be before the acceptance sets in? How much is really enough? What about her misunderstood hero? How can he accept his own nature?

That's when an author really earns the honor of that title. They have to connect with those characters. They have to really know them; feel their emotions; understand what makes them tick. It's a bit like psychology for the imaginary friend. ;)

But it's only at that point of almost complete immersion that we writers can understand how long the acceptance stage should be. It's different for each story, for each couple. It has to be or the readers will eventually stop buying our books. Who wants to read the same story over and over and over?

Now, back to my current read. I'll keep reading -- grumbling every time the heroine angsts over her lover's undead status. I'll finish the book because the writer is basically good at her craft. I just personally think the heroine should have moved on by now.

Readers: Have you ever read a paranormal where you felt this acceptance phase lasted too long? Or was it too short? Which is most annoying?

Writers: How do you know when a character is ready to move on to acceptance? Do you think you've ever missed the mark?

I'd really like to know because I have this immortal hero and a heroine who, at this point, thinks the man is simply insane.


Anonymous said...


I hear you. I read only a few paranormals. But one of the eaudios I've listened to, I ended up fast forwarding through a lot of, because the the hero can't accept his being a werewolf. He rants and raves to the heroine. He leaves, comes back, leaves again. I wanted to slap him around myself and tell him to get over it.

But, I like that series, and will continue to buy her books, hoping she'll just kill this guy off or torture him for awhile, at least. :)


Kathleen Scott/MK Mancos said...


I faced this delimma in my novel The Host:Shadows. I left it to the very end when the heroine realized the hero (after becoming one herself) exactly what he was - a sort of pseudo-vampire. However, her revulsion came not as a result of his being a bloodsucker, but that he was a killer-for-hire. To her that was more inexcusable than fighting his nature. To profit from that nature, even if it was to save innocents like herself. Or those who couldn't defend themselves. It made a different twist on the "big reveal." One I hope readers found interesting.

But I understand and am sympathetic to that problem. And I agree. But I don't think the problem is necessarily one that strikes paranormals. I've read historicals and contemporaries where the hero/ine has spent an entire book worrying an emotional bone. I usually end up putting the book down and not picking it back up again. I can't be bothered with characters who refuse to grow in the context of the plot. That is, after all, part of the journey.