I’m trying out something new today, the Top Ten Tuesday meme from The Broke and The Bookish. There’s a new top ten list challenge posted every week, all of them related to books and reading. Now, I love lists and I love reading so what could be better? Today’s challenge is to list ten things you like or dislike when it comes to romances in books. It should have been finished by midnight to make it a proper Top Ten Tuesday, but I’ve been out this evening at a creative writing night and have only just been able to put the finishing touches on my list. Will try harder next week!
- Insta-love. This is on pretty much every other blogger’s top ten list, and I can see why. You can call me cold and dead inside if you want (and you’d probably be right) but for me love at first sight is unrealistic, it’s sappy, and it skips the best parts of the developing romance.
- Helpless heroine. I can’t read about women who can’t look after themselves. It’s fine, wonderful in fact, if they and their partners have different strengths and can work together, but they have to support each other. Too often the man ends up propping the woman up and that makes this feminist angry!
- Overdependence. This follows on from the helpless heroine trope really, the two partners have to be able to survive separately. Jealousy and co-dependence are not attractive in real life relationships, and no more are they attractive in fictional ones.
- Love triangles. I can make an exception for these if they’re written well enough, but too often it’s obvious that they’ve just been inserted to create conflict without any attempt to make them realistic. In YA fiction, one of my favourite genres, this is a particular problem.
- Too much sex. A well-written sex scene is a good addition to a book, but one every other chapter and it just becomes excessive. I like plot, and plot generally develops better when the romantic leads can keep their clothes on for more than five minutes at a time.
- Hate-to-love. This is a Marmite trope, most people either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it. I know it can be clichéd, but I feel like it gives the relationship more depth – and the chances are if I’m reading a book where two characters hate each other I will mentally be writing the climactic love scene.
- Not the focal point. As I said before, I like plot. And I would prefer for that plot not to be entirely focused on whether or not two of the characters are going to get their happily ever after (unless they’re not going to get their happily ever after because of nuclear war, an evil sorceress or a boat sinking). This is also linked to my hatred of helpless heroines and overdependence, which are much more likely to appear if a relationship is the central driver behind a book.
- LGBTQIA. This is partially pure self-indulgence. I like kissing girls, so I like to read about girls who also like kissing girls, simple as that. However, I also like to read books about these relationships (particularly when they’re not coming out stories, not the focal point, not even main characters sometimes) because it shows readers that they exist and have just as much validity as heterosexual ones.
- Unrequited love. I just like angst, OK? But this like comes with a disclaimer, I only like the really angsty unrequited love, when the other person doesn’t even know it exists and the unrequited lover doesn’t rub it in their face. (I’m looking at you Gale Hawthorne. You are a good example of how not to do unrequited love.)
- Slow burn. This might be cheating a little, as it’s basically the flip-side of my hatred of insta-love, but I was running out of ideas. And writing romance slowly and realistically is important enough to mention twice.