Dear Romance Writers…

I love your stuff. I really, really do — so much so that I neglected all my sci fi this week to read your heavy breathing instead. Yay, sexytimes! HOWEVER, I do have a bone to pick with y’all:

Funny Reminders Ecard: The only thing more torturous than the sex in Fifty Shades of Grey is the writing in Fifty Shades of Grey.

1) For the love of all that is holy, your character’s interest is not “peeked.” It is not even “peaked.” The word is “piqued” and I will hit you over the head with a “pike” until you get it right.

2) DO NOT name your female character Brie. I will laugh and point at you. The only exception would be if Brie is a pale-faced girl whose tough exterior conceals a soft heart torn in two by her love for Camembert and Gouda. I’d read that.

3) “Too thin” is not a flaw. Neither is being feisty, spunky, or outspoken. Neither is having too large a chest (is that even a thing? Now I want to read a romance about those freakish triple HHH porn stars). If you want to make me interested in your characters, give them real challenges to overcome. Make them disabled, older, overweight, cranky. Give them acne, addictions and dental problems. Perfect people are boring.

4) There are enough cowboys in Romancelandia. Also, enough firefighters, cops, club owners and self-made gazillionaires. Just once, I want to read about a bike messenger or a cat breeder. Heck, I’ll take a good plumber. God knows they’re hard enough to find in real life.

5) Beautiful, virginal college students are like honest, faithful politicians. Nobody has ever seen one, but they always exist in someone’s misty watercolored memories. Ugly, promiscuous college students are way more interesting to write about anyway.

6) NO MORE ELVES, DAMMIT. Unless they’re the blood-drinking, crack your bones open and eat the marrow type — then ok.

7) Vampires do not sparkle, and they need to be at least somewhat dangerous to be appealing. Ditto were-animals. We’re not talking live-action throw rugs here.

8) Stockholm Syndrome is the exception, not the rule. People generally do NOT fall in love with their captors, hence the word “syndrome.” Otherwise, it would just be called “that thing that happens to prisoners.”

9) There’s a thin line between “Alpha” and “asshole”. Try not to confuse the two.

10) Stop describing women as having curves and men as angular. We all have curves, otherwise we’d poke each other with a bunch of corners if we got too close. You don’t want to know the mental picture I get when the main character is pressed up against the “hard planes” of a guy’s chest.  I mean, OW.

Just a few suggestions, ya know….so I don’t throw my books across the room.

Posted on June 24, 2012, in my weird sense of humor. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. And That’s why I don’t read romance novels. You said it girl.

  2. Having a red pencil in one hand really takes me out of the moment, you know? But, everything you mentioned is so common. Right up there with ‘there bodies found a rhythm as old as time’ …..eek!

  3. I don’t read them. I just could never get over the tortured prose. Don’t tell me you are reading that 50 shades crap? I almost picked it up the other day just to see what the hype was about, but I was talked off the ledge by my good friend Jen e Sais Quoi. Thank god for friends! 🙂

    • I am NOT reading 50 Shades, but only because the Kindle Sample pained me so greatly. I have promised myself I will not read it no matter who asks, because I’m still holding a grudge against my book club for making me read Twilight. Jen is absolutely right on this one, as usual.

  4. LOL! I needed this laugh…

  5. This is a wonderful piece of writing. Truly. Have you actually found a book so badly written that peeked or peaked was used instead of piqued?

    There is one writer who writes a series of futuristic crime novels. The main character and her husband have three pages of sex at least once in every novel. I am so bored of reading it, because it adds nothing to the story except to demonstrate they are flexible. Boring.

    Where are the editors of these books, don’t they actually have to do something, like maybe, I dunno, read the books they edit?

    • I completely agree on the futuristic crime series and three pages of sex. I kind of skim over those parts and my mom flat out doesn’t like the series. I like her other fiction better.

    • Elle — More. Than. Once. I kid you not. To be fair, these are mostly ebooks and I’ve decided that the “e” in ebooks stands for “egregiously unedited.”

      I don’t actually mind sex, but I’ve noticed that writers who do series tend to rely on the same stock phrases. I had to stop reading a certain historical romance author because her male characters gritted out the phrase “Bloody Hell!” in every sex scene — which is not only distracting but inaccurate historically. The expression “bloody” was considered lower class and would NEVER have been used by a gentleman unless he was ordering a steak.

  6. Bah, I had an awesome reply and closed the window trying to close something else. Take two…

    That was awesome and so well timed. It’s been a while since I read much Harlequin but a friend just dropped a bag of them on me because they didn’t sell in their garage sale (surprise, surprise). I find myself talking to the characters or laughing out loud at some of the dialogue or decisions the characters make. My husband is going to think I’m crazy the way I talk back to these people when they do stupid things.

    The most recent book I finished, I liked the male lead. He seemed interesting, intellegent, didn’t piss me off by doing stupid things and rarely did the author put words in his mouth that took me out of the moment. It took place in the Yukon, accessible only by boat/float plane so that was kind of cool (and nice to read something Canadian) although I don’t think it really matches with what my brother has told me about the Yukon. Still, points for trying. But the female lead, I don’t think I understood a single decision she made in the book. Not one. I don’t know why that guy was interested in her at all, never mind holding onto that crush for 15 years while she went globe trotting.

    I get some of the plots are going to be ridiculous and silly, I get some of those decisions are just so they can create tension or push them into some situation where one of them runs away so the other can chase them, but it’s still got to make some kind of sense. I actually like a lot of the really old ones because my expectations are just for them to be funny in a non-intentional way.

    • Oh, I yell at the TV but have never yelled at my books…hmm, maybe I should try that for the more annoying characters?

      The Smart Bitches, Trashy Books website introduced me to the concept of TSTL — “Too Stupid To Live” — to describe certain female romance leads whose behavior you just DO NOT GET. I think it might be applicable here. To be fair, Harlequin books are generally ridiculously stereotypical as regards gendered behavior, jobs, etc.

      Speaking of books about the Yukon — have you read Mrs. Mike? I loved it intensely as a teenager but have not read it for years. It’s about a young girl who married a Canadian Mountie and went to live WAY up north…with all the wild creatures, wild weather, disease, etc. It’s supposed to be based on a true story; thought I’d give it a plug.

  7. You saw “One Shade of Grey,” right? it was a pretty short story, and nobody got piqued.

  8. and that’s just k. Issues.

  9. One of my very favorite posts. Peeked. Ha.

  10. Good god, I definitely won’t be reading that – peeked? Seriously? And vampires and elves? Is this like some Anita Blake necro-bestiality porn-fest or something? Ugh….

    • Ha, Anita Blake books actually don’t bug me — and now I’m positive it’s because Laurell Hamilton has never (to my knowledge, anyway and I’ve read most of her stuff) made the peeked/peaked/piqued mistake.

      Vampires and elves don’t bother me as much as the disrespect authors pay to their origins by making them CUTE.

      • I quite like the Anita Blake books – a friend gave me the first 8 or 9…I haven’t read one for ages though, I got up to book 12 or so then had to wait for more to be published, meanwhile I went onto something else

  11. This makes me want to write about ten more novels right now with these tips in mind.

  12. I’m way late to this party but I have to tell you how much I love this post! I too, enjoy a good romance, but the annoyances you listed can and do take me right out of the moment. Lately, I’ve been watching Bollywood romances. They’re as addictive as romance novels and they always have a happy ending. I recommend “Hum Tum” if you’re interested.

    • Ooh, I’ve been interested in Bollywood but nobody’s ever given me a specific place to start. I’ll have to look up “Hum Tum” now!

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