It’s easy to forget about a plot hole or repeat the same phrase twice when you are writing a novel but there are some mistakes that bother me more than any others. Here are my Top 5 Romance Genre Pet Peeves of 2018.
- ONE. The word wanton used to describe every physical interaction between the two main characters.
I am guilty of using this adjective myself but I try to be as sparse about it as I can be. It’s not that it is a bad descriptive word, however, romance authors use this way too much! I call it a “bandwagon” adjective because once one author has a successful book with a off-road word then other writers start to overuse it in order to give their book the same feel. The same could be said about other words such as moot, insatiable, and musk. Musk alone makes me want to gag; it’s almost as bad a moist but with a slightly better aftertaste? I don’t know.
Plus, every time I read the word wanton I want a wonton soup. Kind of a mood killer if you ask me… Or is it? Bun, dun, dun!
- TWO. Saying the main female character is strong and independent until she meets the main character and suddenly becomes insecure and obedient.
Character X is an independent lawyer/ doctor/ manager/ nurse/ insert job here that is fine with being single because she doesn’t take BS from anyone. Until… tall, dark, and handsome walks in and tells her how to dress, what to say, who to see, where to go, all because he is what? He’s attractive? Rich? Authoritative? … How about no.
Why do so many authors go to so much trouble to make a female character appear confident in the beginning and then tear it all apart without admitting it? It’s okay for the character to change or to become “dickmatized” but don’t act like this dynamic shift isn’t occurring. Own it. Change it. Take back control. I understand that all women have an underlying deep-seated need to be cared for by someone that will love and protect them (don’t we all), and it is okay for a dominant character to become submissive in the bedroom but quit allowing characters to lose who they are outside of the bedroom! Let’s have a little emotional backbone stay in tact, please.
- THREE. Body image. She is thin but has a big butt, natural boobs, long hair, with crystal eyes and plump lips, and she still can’t find a man? Boo, hoo.
I feel so bad for her.
There is nothing wrong about the girl I just described, but please don’t write like she has no idea how attractive she is. It’s hurtful to the integrity of the author and also the body image projected onto the reader. If someone that is described as socially perfect with no ulterior flaws really can’t see their worth than there is no help for the rest of us. A little confidence in a character goes a long way to me when I am reading a novel. Maybe she looks perfectly fine but is a pyromaniac, or maybe she is OCD to the point of no return. She is the girl that all the guys want but she will burn your shit to dust and then organize it into small equal piles. I don’t care what it is but please quit writing characters that have no physical flaws to everyone else but then all of a sudden when she meets the guy she turns into the white swan. This is not Swan Lake, we don’t all turn into vixens once we catch the eye of a bad boy (maybe we feel that way but let’s be real, we don’t go from plain to daymn overnight).
- FOUR. The two meet and everything starts progressing but what happened to their jobs??
Is there some unwritten romance rule that I’m not privileged to that states once the main characters start interacting that work ceases. I’m not saying I want to read a bunch of boardroom scenes but a little subplot here and there only makes the story that more addicting.
Maybe I’m just bitter on this one but how are their bills getting paid or companies being run? You can’t have a workaholic male just up and quit his job out of nowhere! And without discussing taking a leave of absence. Is the reader supposed to assume that all obligations prior to sex are null and void once they hook up? And for that matter don’t take away the success of a female character building a name for herself and then put it on hold because she met someone new.
- FIVE. The over exaggeration of animal attraction in the air between character x and y, then pretending that other people can’t notice it.
“He looked into my eyes and I could feel him pouring over my body with his lingering gaze. No one in class saw his visceral need to take me on his desk but me as he talked about statistical risk and reward. I noticed his lip quiver when I bit my own in shame. I felt so dirty being in the middle of the lecture hall and all I wanted to do was push him to his limit the same as he was pushing me.”
- Okay, honestly I just came up with that and it wasn’t that bad, however, it stands to remain that this is illogical and completely ridiculous. If my professor was staring at some girl intently I would notice, especially if he is cute.
The same goes for any person looking intently at another person in general. Flirting is flirting and if you want to write about being your characters being stealthy when it comes to showing admiration for another then at least have it be less socially evident. Don’t rely on the characters staring at each other because it is creepy. Don’t be that person that writes a stalker and not a lover. It’s not a good look.