Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What I Don't Like About Romance Novels


       Romance novels are all about falling in love – finding a soul mate and sometimes having great sex. That's what I love about writing romance. I can be, even for a short time, someone else. I am able to fall in love over and over again. That's also why readers love romance novels. For a short space fo time, they have the perfect lover.
What don't I love about romance novels? Formulaic plots, predictable events and the main conflict is between the couple. How is that romantic? I don't want to red page after page of fighting. That isn't what love is about. I've heard other romance authors tell me, "It's what sells." or "It's what readers want."
Is it? I'm a reader as well as a writer and I don't like it. I like an immediate attraction between my lovers. I believe in love at first sight – because it happened to me. I see the romance as the two of them getting to know one another, admitting they are attracted and, eventually, sating their lust in mutually satisfying sex.
Another thing I don't like – arrogant, misogynistic, self-centered heroes who act as if women are there for the taking. Romance novels thrive on this bestial behavior. The love scenes often include the hero – convinced the woman is attracted to him, and can't resist him, forcing his attentions on her. This is, in my opinion, tantamount to rape.
I'm sick of plots where the couple meets, find themselves attracted, may or may not have sex right away, have a falling out and squabble for the rest of the book. A little of that goes a very long way. Yes, couples argue, but they can learn to communicate. Try talking it out – quit throwing lamps at each other. True love isn't like that.
Sadly, these formulaic novels emphasize a lot of the wrong elements of a relationship. Love isn't simply lust. It isn't fighting and yelling and having makeup sex.
True love is liking the faults as well as the strengths of your soul mate. It's talking about what's on your mind – even if ti's simply what to have for dinner. It's patience, compromise, communication. True love is having the best sex ever – simply because it's with the person you love. It's attraction for one person – not many. It's working hard at building a relationship.
Let's talk conflict for a moment. Conflict is what pushes a story forward. It propels the couple toward the conclusion of their story. The best conflicts, I feel, are things the couple must face together and grow stronger as they unite against a common foe.
Good conflict is outside the relationship, not a part of it. If the main action of the story is the couple fighting and staying apart, I stop reading. I think that's why I love to write romantic suspense. I can honestly say that I don't use that type of conflict. I like my couples to ace danger, work as a team and overcome the villain together. I don't want the foe to be one another.
I have to wonder if readers really do want that type of novel or if they simply sell because that's what is available? I promise my readers this – I will not resort to formulaic writing. If that is truly what you want, I'm not your girl. If you want fresh, exciting, fast paced and often lusty stories, then you've come to the right place. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

© Dellani Oakes

6 comments:

Kemberlee said...

Great article. A lot of my own sentiments. I don't think the H&H should fight with each other. Not too much. They can actively disagree with each other, be at odds with each other, but the romance should be a relationship building story and how they work *together* to solve an issue that's external to their own relationship, or even an issue that will help them be together. But there's nothing sexy or romantic about couples who fight.

writerchick said...

Nothing wrong with a little sexual tension to keep things interesting but once the couples decide that they are an item team work should take precedence over in fighting. I prefer romantic suspense over straight romance as it adds more excitement

Dellani Oakes said...

Thanks, ladies! See why we get along so well? We think a lot alike. :)

Shane O'Neill said...

I so agree with you, Dellani.

Dellani Oakes said...

Thank you, Shane!

Jonz Stoneroad said...

I'm with you there and it seems that it falls in the same line of how I want to write my own story (though not a romance). I agree, the denials, the "trials and tribulations", the arrogant hero and the weak heroine, etc. etc. I am glad that you like the love-at-first sight and having an unwritten rule of the two characters meeting and discovery. Them getting together isn't the climax; it's how they become stronger amidst the drama that is what we "readers" truly want and not what said publishers say.

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