Because we're talking about love and clichés this month, I decided to grill my friends and acquaintances about how they feel about romance in novels. I asked them to tell me how they feel about the presence of romance in novels, what they love, what they hate, and what they're tired of. Here's what I got.
From my husband, who is a big fan of books written for twelve-year-old boys. (Not that there's anything wrong with that). If you're writing a book for twelve-year-old boys, he would love to beta read for you:
"I put up with it, I guess? I mean, I really read past it to get to the part of the story I care about. The part with zombies. Get together, don't get together, I don't care. Just escape from the zombies."
Note: My husband has always felt there is "too much kissing and not enough scalping" in Part 2 of my YA historical THE LAST SISTER. Consider yourself warned.
From my friend, who loves romance novels and romance in novels and has forgotten more YA lit than I have read:
"The real value of reading about people falling in love is that it reminds you what it's like to fall in love. You get to relive it, or at least remember it, which is really valuable when you're dealing with jobs and kids and in-laws and so on, and it's easy to forget what those early days of your relationship were like."
Note: I feel I have succeeded with my kissing scenes if my friend giggles and taps her fingers together under her chin. She is the Dr. Evil of romance scene approval. She feels that perhaps there is too much scalping and not enough kissing in THE LAST SISTER. And also that it would be greatly improved by the addition of mermaids.
Here are a few other general likes and things readers want to see:
- · a focus on the non-physical aspects of a relationship—people who are good company for each other, not just good sex partners
- · witty banter between the principal love interests
- · characters who realize they are in love when they are threatened with losing a long-standing relationship
And some things readers are done with:
- · male love interests who are not generally good-natured, likeable people
- · abusive relationships idealized (Can we all be over this, please?)
- · big strong man/weak little woman pairings
- · people who start off hating each other but grow to love each other (I think this is often an attempt to pull off an Elizabeth Bennet/Mr. Darcy or Beatrice/Benedick pairing by people who don't realize how much those characters genuinely enjoy each other, even from their first meeting. See "witty banter," above.)
|They are loving this.|
|"Am I expected to show emotion now?" + Mild Smirk = My Wedding Pictures|
Thanks to everyone who talked to me about romance in novels! What would you like to see more or less of? Leave a comment and let us know.