Saturday, September 7, 2013

Romance Writing Tropes that drive me crazy

I enjoy reading romance novels for a number of reasons, but the main one is because I know at the end, the heroine is going to live happily ever after.  Usually by the second page of the book I'm going to have a pretty good idea who she is going to live happily ever after with.  For a lot of readers, this is annoying and it takes out the mystery and suspense of the book, but for me it makes me feel like I am in my happy and safe place.  If I'm looking for mystery and suspense, I'll go to those genres to find it.  Recently a friend of mine mentioned she disliked the romance genre because at the end the guy gets the girl and they presumably live happily ever after, which is not the way real life works.  Of course that is exactly why I like the certainty that comes with genre because it is a break from real life and its unpredictability.  To each his own I guess. 

So this got me thinking about Tropes in the Romance genre that I do not care for, and I started making a list.

Pregnancy - Of course there is the obvious cliché where the woman gets pregnant and they have to get married.  There is also the secret baby plot, where the guy doesn't know she is pregnant and she comes back years later with his love child.  These plots aside, it really bothers me at the end of a book when part of the HEA (Happily Ever After) is that the woman is pregnant with their baby.  I bet this happens 80% of the time in romance novels.  This basically implies that women cannot be happy without a baby.  Obviously since I do not have kids, I have a bias on the subject, but I think it also alienates women who can't have kids, who chose not to have kids, or who are married to someone who does not want kids. 

Marriage - Couples can be happy and presumed to have their HEA without a marriage proposal.  I'm happily married and am often a marriage pusher with my own friends because it works for me, but it doesn't always work for everyone.  Especially since romance novels often take place over a shortened amount of time, I find it highly unlikely that many of these couples in the real world would be getting engaged after a few weeks or a few months of knowing each other. 

Virgins - If a woman makes it to her late 20's and 30's as a virgin, more power to her, but at that point I'd think it would be even more unlikely she is going to sleep with a man before she gets married.  This is one of the few times I'd actually buy a plot where they got married quickly.  On the reverse side of this, are there no men who are virgins at this age?  Basically, I'd like to read more books where the man is a virgin or at least only been with one or two other women, or that both the man and the woman have had several/many partners.  Often times authors try and "give back" virginity to the heroine by having their first orgasm or first oral sex experience with their HEA partner, which is a little better, but is still over done.

Rich characters - I get why this is done.  Work gets in the way of plot.  And just like life, being poor gets in the way of plot.  It's pretty hard to woo a girl in a book by renting a movie and making spaghetti, but somehow men are able to do it every day in real life.  But we are writers, we need to just figure it out.  There is a whole subset in the romance genre of billionaire books, which is fine, but I think we need to have more Contemporary Romance books that have real people with real jobs and real pay checks.   

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