Romance Gets a Bad Rep

… In which I ponder why Romance has a bad rep and rant just a little.

In today’s paper I read a book review for a book I will never read. It’s by a male, and I imagine the book is doing/will do fairly well since it’s being reviewed in major papers. It’s described as a “sweeping, romantic novel.” In the brief description of the book describes the main characters, “once married and now divorced, who encounter one another after decades of mutual avoidance. The fight that ensues–and the subsequent fall to their deaths from a rocky ledge–occurs in the novel’s opening pages.” (ABQ Journal, Sunday, June 7, 2015, Book page)

There’s a storm brewing…

How is that at all romantic? Apparently the story then proceeds in flashback to how this couple became a couple and what happened. The author of the article even calls it an “ill-fated romance.” Yeah, I’d say.

Look, if you like to read stuff like this, more power to you. You’re allowed to read anything you please. And the author is allowed to write anything he pleases. But seriously, don’t call this a romance or romantic. That would be like calling Psycho a romance because Norman has feelings for Marion. I could name the book in question a family saga or relationship drama, but not romance.

I admit I like my endings happy, or at least satisfying (I love a worthwhile tearjerker and am not above killing a few characters myself. I’ve sobbed more than once while writing some of my books.). Give me the endings I can cheer for–in movies: The Avengers, Notting Hill, Shawshank Redemption, Jurassic Park (which I just watched again on Friday–great film, great characters), The Princess Bride; in books: Harry Potter, To Kill A Mockingbird, Bewitching, Ready Player One. Call my tastes plebeian; I don’t care. I’ve read my share of literature and seen most of the highbrow films too. I don’t enjoy them. There is enough horrific stuff in the real world that I don’t have to have it in my entertainment. So help me, if Game of Thrones doesn’t give me that satisfying ending at the conclusion of the series (the books first, and then the TV show), I will be more than angry. Right now I don’t care how many characters have been killed because I trust the author will give me that ending that makes all the suffering worthwhile (Hear that, George?)

It’s called reader expectation. I know what I expect from my fiction. That’s why I avoid books like the one I opened this blog with, or what used to be called Oprah books, or those about which everyone mentions a surprise ending (Those books/movies are the ones I always go to spoiler website to “cheat” because I won’t waste my time on an ending that will piss me off. [Are you listening, George?] And no, it doesn’t spoil the experience for me. I always read the end of a book before I finish it anyway. And there’s a study that says spoilers actually enhance the experience.)

Enough. I know I’ve written about this before, but that book review just set me off. Again. Back to my deep breathing exercises.


Books I’m reading now:

The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy



Ten Quick Tips About Writing Fantasy . . .

. . . In which I examine my own thoughts about writing fantasy.

I am trying to switch genres from Romance (though I still love it and am currently working on one) to fantasy (Although my next manuscript will be more science fiction–it’s the process of “throw everything out there and see what sticks”). I love fantasy and have since I was a child. I am currently shopping a fantasy romance (which I love!) and a straight fantasy (which I also love–two books of the heart) So here are my top ten quick tips about writing fantasy.FalconAndWolfLatestSmall

  1. Read in the genre–there are all kinds of fantasy. Read, read, read. (That’s true for any genre)
  2. You can’t just throw in a dragon– although dragons are great, right?
  3. You must build a world–as the author, you have to know the rules of the world and stick to them.
  4. Logic must still prevail–just because you’re making up a world, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to make sense. (Almost the same thing as 3, but not quite)
  5. The characters are more important than the flash and decoration– a reader still wants and needs to identify with at least some of your characters.
  6. Writing rules still apply–If you’re going to be wordy, you’d better have a good reason to be so. (Like not using contractions–works great as a characteristic for Data, but not so good for other characters)
  7. Know where you’re going–especially if you plan several books. You have to know the destination.
  8. Avoid story clichés–they’ve been done to death.
  9. Actions have consequences– don’t forget to show them. Rarely is anything black and white. Gray can be a much more interesting shade.
  10. Research is essential–yes, even for a fantasy, you must do your research.

So, you know anyone interested in a fantasy?


Books I’m reading now:

Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch