Romance and non-romance readers unite – is there a happy medium?

Gather round romance and non-romance readers and writers. Or gather around. Do it in a circular fashion, circle before you get here, or just come and sit down anywhere.

Now, scooch in a little closer.  I’m not a complete monster. I’m only halfway there.

Originally I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to talk about  the deep psychological reasons behind why  I can’t read romance and why others can.   I’ve found great reading friends over the past three years and I know that our romance buttons need to be pushed in different ways. Some of us need a manual, but others can enjoy the book for what it is, and leave out with the nitpicking. This is one of those times where I think to say less is to say more.  I have a habit of coming across a little cynical.

I was an obsessive reader before I started writing. When I found there were adult versions of  Young Adult Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy, I went a little crazy. Er, crazier. The supernatural without angst? Isn’t this one of their super powers that allows them to hook so many readers? Bring on the twenty books I ordered from the library. Bring on the flushed cheeks when I was served by a man at the counter and I used my husbands library card. He didn’t have to say, ” Are these for your husband?” But he did.

So my eyes were opened – widely. I have romance, sex and alpha men, and I didn’t know what to make of them. What I found though, is that there were romance aspects that stopped me from reading the more romance-skewed books. The romance seemed too extreme, too unrealistic. I was proclaiming, “Why is she so special!” “That wouldn’t happen!” I read to escape, but I found I was escaping less.

I ran to Urban Fantasy, clutching my pearls. I wanted more tension, a slower-burn romance, an exciting protagonist, a greater connection, a less protective male and less sex.

Would romance writers lose their market if they compromised these elements? When I throw a book because a woman looked at a man’s biceps thirty times while they were in a dire situation, is there someone out there dichotomous to me who throws the book when she only looked at them twice?

Is there a way to keep all of us happy? Is there a happy medium? Well, you’d have to find a happy medium first, and if they are happy, they’ve probably finally worked out the lottery numbers and won’t want to work anymore.

*braces herself*

 

 

 

 

Looking at review pressure points in a different light.

I never had a review blog, but I did write normal reviews on goodreads and was quite vocal. I don’t review anymore because I guess on this side of the writing, I’ve changed my perspective.

From my experience with reviewing, there are a number of pressure points that can boil blood.  This is my take now that I’m behind the wheel. These might be Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance pressure points, but some are relevant to all genres. This list isn’t exhaustive.

TSTL – Too stupid to live.

Well I changed this one to ‘ too stubborn to listen’  for Mae, my protagonist.  This is when you feel the character is making reckless and uninformed decisions, endangering their safety. Characters do some pretty stupid things. When you write, you need to take them on a journey or they’re all just sitting around in an impenetrable box shooting the breeze. And although the breeze might turn quite rancid after awhile as they start sharing breath, the story would be more interesting if you get them out there into the action. I think the key here is growth.

Growth

Okay, this one hasn’t changed for me. I love growth. I love to watch a sitcom where one minute you are shaking your fist at an idiot, and the next you are crying because they figured out that no-one tolerates a selfish hater. I can be easily manipulated by good writing. Where it happens is important to me though. I like characters to grow within the book. I won’t wait 2-3 books.

Love triangles

Sometimes they just appear. They don’t bother me anymore because what I thought was contrived, is sometimes a coincidence, and sometimes there’s more than one member of the opposite sex hanging around that’s single.  What does bug me though, is when the protagonist manipulates her loyal subjects who in turn morph into sulking morons when they don’t get attention. But I don’t review anymore. So I’ll shush.

Cliffhangers

I thought these only existed to entice the reader to continue the series. What I’ve realised is that you write until you feel the story is ready to end.

Mary-Sue

This one still confuses me but I love it when people rant about it. I think this is when a protagonist is deemed uninteresting,  but the love interest runs around like a headless looney to be with her anyway. Or is it when ten headless loonies want to be with her? Or do they whine about how boring they are – I don’t even have to infer it – but they suddenly become the most interesting person to the most amazing person and there is no reason? Is it when you feel the writer wishes they were the protagonist?

I can probably tolerate anyone as long as they don’t have loads of adoring fans who pass out with awe when they walk past. And I have to see that romantic connection. I get it when she’s sassy, and he’s sassy and together they are the Sassinators, but when there is only a physical attraction and there is loads of whine involved, I’m out. Wine involved? Count me back in.

Okay, I just did some research. This needs its own post. Could be fun.

Interesting Protagonist.

This is probably more of a pressure point for UF and PNR since most of it is written in first person pov. There is nowhere to hide. I used to wonder, “Why don’t writers make the protag interesting? A real fire-cracker?” They may not want to, they may want the story to shine, they may not think they are uninteresting. Also, I read a book with an over the top  fire-cracker once and wow that was exhausting. Maybe not to the writer though. *shrugs*

What are your reviewing pressure points and have they changed? Did you change your perspective on reviewing when you started to write?

*deletes goodreads reviews*