Saturday, January 11, 2014

Let's get things started

I was perusing the RomanceBook subheading on Reddit this morning, wondering what people might be discussing over there. It isn't a large community yet, but I think there's a lot of growth potential.

A couple of older topics made me twitchy. I was tempted to respond, though I refrained. One was full of criticism for adult romance. The poster and subsequent comments it drew suggested YA stories handled love better because all you get with adult romance is a flimsy plot stringing multiple sexual encounters together. They're all lust, no emotion. All I could think was, these people haven't been looking very hard. In all likelihood, they're confusing romance with erotica. It's amazing how often that happens.

Another topic concerned immediate attraction between characters and how unrealistic that is. Having been involved in a number of those situations, I can say with absolute confidence attraction can and does hit a person like that. What they do from there is entirely up to them.

But what these critics don't seem to understand is a writer is expected to introduce their characters quickly. We need to establish a strong emotional reaction between the hero and heroine one way or another. I generally choose attraction rather than something more antagonistic so I take issue with the assertion that just because there is an initial physical attraction, the relationship will remain shallow and never progress beyond lust. That's ridiculous.

People, like our characters, are complicated creatures. I agree actual love is realized in a gradual way as we discover all the quirks about the person in our life. But we do make initial judgments based on appearance. We're selective about who we allow to get close to us. Whether a person will be relegated to the friendship category or proceed into something deeper is dependent on our physical response to them. Is this a person we'd want to become sexually intimate with? That's a very important question. If you don't feel a smidgen of attraction for someone, you're going to have a really hard time getting fired up about swapping kisses and more with them.

Having said this, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some things are universal, don't get me wrong, but we all have our tastes and weaknesses. We should assume our heroine is wearing her very own pair of rose-colored glasses when she first sees her hero. He's not going to seem quite as scrumptious to her friends and family. That's actually a good thing. He doesn't have to be universally appealing to anyone else. As long as he strikes the right notes with her we're allowed to can call him handsome. We're seeing him through the lenses in her glasses with her.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm a guy and I've read quite a lot of romantic fiction. Heck, I write poetry and the odd bit of romantic fiction myself, so maybe I'm a little biased but I do know a little about it from both sides of the book covers. Anyway, to get back on point, I reckon that romantic fiction is one of the truer reflections of life. More so than erotic fiction; although most people would probably like that to be a reflection of their real lives and much more so than any number of spy/adventure/crime novel you might care to pull from your bookcase or read on your eReader.

    So, romantic fiction. A storyline dealing with realistic people in genuine situations doing what comes naturally. Interacting. Getting to know each other. Coming together in friendship, lust, love and the whole range of emotions. And maybe having sex. And yes, that does happen in real life. (I'm almost certain that my parents did it at least once.)

    Romantic fiction is writing real life stories. It may not describe what happens to you every day and it may involve a lot of wishful thinking on the readers' part, but it does relate to 'real' people doing day-to-day things that we could believe ourself doing. There's no wonder it's so popular. And if the book in your hand doesn't happen to be Joyce's Ulysses or some generally accepted 'worthy' tome, it doesn't make it any the less valid for the reader reading it and enjoying a happy few hours away from their daily grind.