**I just spent the last three days in the car, riding from Pennsylvania to New Mexico, desperately searching for a book to hold my interest. That is the emotion behind this blog posting- pure frustration mixed with bitter disappointment*
A plea to my fellow wordsmiths from the reader in all of us.
I spend a great deal of time in analytical-mode, observing others for their actions and reactions. I do this to perfect my character development. Lately, I’ve had a difficult time reading anyone’s books but my own because of ‘character lobotomies.’
I’m not just speaking of Indie or traditionally published authors. I’m speaking of BOTH!
Like actual human beings: age, gender, personality traits, emotional baggage, and careers should drive your character’s actions. The hardest thing for me to swallow when reading: characters acting out of character. The dumbass or helpless female disease. Many a doctor, lawyer, or other professional women, with 8+ years of higher education and an analytical mind with a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude, turn into dipshit, teenaged girls in these books.
“I know this is a bad idea, but I’m gonna do it anyway. So there!” *sticks tongue out like a petulant five-year-old child when in actuality is a 35-year-old professional* “Aren’t I cute and funny? Hehe!” *Looks like the first to die in a horror flick.* “Oh, shit, I shouldn’t have done that. Gonna get hurt now unless some manly man rushes in to save me.”
Erica rolls her eyes, threatens to smash her Kindle, and puts the author on the long list of DNF & ‘never-going-to-read-a-word-you-write-again.’
Authors: you have your characters thinking one thing in their internal monologue and reacting in an opposite fashion. This seems to be the norm today, along with insta-love.
Why this diatribe today? Well, I was reading a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and then it was lobotomized. Personally, the short backstory was the key to my interest. I would have rather read that instead. It was hard-hitting, engrossing, and worthy. Instead of expanding on the story to create a solid foundation, the author went ahead and made it about insta-love. I say it’s a cop-out. Write the story out, and quit selling me phony romance without a backbone or foundation.
There is something to be said about intensity, chemistry, and tension.
In so many books today, the protagonists meet, and then it’s instant attraction and… *shudders* L-O-V-E? Really? Seriously? Love? What happened to lust?
It takes time to build a foundation of love, one that is only made over time, over interaction, over emotional attachment. This is never built over sex- never, ever. If you believe this phony bullshit, you’re probably addicted to the high of ‘new love’, or as it’s better known, infatuation.
9 times out of 10, this occurs. I realize in order to properly show the time it takes to develop a real relationship, the readers would be bored out of their skulls. But to ‘tell’ me versus ‘show’ me WHY they fit as a couple, is taking the easy way out, and a detriment to your story. Lastly, not everything has to be about sappy romance or hot sex.
No, it doesn’t.
Because if all you have is sappy romance and hot sex without any real story behind it, then it’s forgettable and a dime-a-dozen, and personally, the sex is just flat.
I expect certain things out of a book. In YA or NA, I expect the girls to do something stupid, since they are, in essence, children. They are without the experience of life, the growth to make sound decisions. But in those novels, the females act older, wiser. They save the world in Fantasy and Dystopian novels, or live on their own while their wayward parents are off living their life somewhere else, acting criminally for leaving their underaged children alone for long periods of time.
I found the missing and idiotic parents to our YA heroines and heroes in Contemporary romance/erotica novels. In today’s contemporary romance and erotica genres, you have 25+ year old females acting the way those in the YA & NA should have been behaving. How do you explain this shift? Why do our younger readers get strong role models and our adult readers get “Too Stupid to Live” females who give all women a bad name?
One book that will forever stick in my mind, a female doctor, highly intelligent, acting like a twelve-year-old in heat, pranking hospital faculty. They took an oath to save lives, and the author is making light of this highly intelligent character with slap-stick, over-the-top bullshit for the sake of comedy. For me, it’s not funny if you’re trying too hard. It’s just freakin’ annoying.
Next up, the hotter than blazes Mary Jane. MJ’s internal monologue is something like this, “Woe-is-me.” “I’m 35 and no one wants me.” “I’m shy and quiet, and my last boyfriend was mean to me.” “I don’t trust men.” The author usually writes one, more often two or three, hot guys sniffing at MJ’s tail. & in their POV, they find MJ the most gorgeous creature, engrossing in conversation, and completely sounding like MJ in their minds. Add, “I’m fat.” “I’m ugly.” “I’m boring.” Yet these women are goddesses in the hotties’ eyes.
I get the realism of using everyday women, and the fantasy of being wanted by 5 hot rockers or billionaires, or what have you, but it’s an insult to my intelligence… and freakin’ annoying to boot.
Next up, these Gods among men, who are starve-gutted for plain Mary Jane, mysteriously sound, act, and react like a woman… or a douchebag. Never an in between. Then douchebag gets pussy-whipped by MJ, and then his internal monologue becomes just as hers. Without fail.
If I’m reading a male’s POV, I expect him to act, react, and sound like a dude from page one to ‘the end’. A guy in love is still a guy, not a girl who is wielding a penis aimed at our damsel-in-distress. If the girl can’t save herself, her male clone shouldn’t be able to save her, either. Right?
Candy at the Van Predators versus Streetwise, Badassed Bitches.
As I said, these intelligent, streetwise, or take-no-prisoners women always have a baggage-filled backstory (which I love, and I always wish the authors would write that instead of the fluff-filled romance piece they publish). Today’s woman slept in a shelter with a knife in her hand to save her pitiful belongings. She’s on the run from an abusive ex. Meets a guy by happenchance (always is the case, right? Gotta love fate!), and trusts this new stranger infallibly. Character trait lobotomy, anyone? This is without fail, always, and was so difficult to swallow that I was furious.
So then the dude starts in on possessive shit, and she shrugs it off, ‘cuz you know, it’s NOT like she doesn’t recognize the signs after being abused. He’s hot. *shrugs* He wants her mousy ass. *shrugs* I’m sure he’s a good guy, even if he’s telling her what to do after a handful of words, and now looking, touching, and breathing on her in a way that makes her girly parts tingly. *tingling so intensely I wonder if she has feminine itch*
It’s been 12 hours, in which she lost a job, gained a job, cried, gained an apartment and money, did all the necessary body functions, spoke less than 100 words to this dude (none of them of any real substance) but has looked at, and been looked at by, this insanely HOT dude, so all her reasoning skills and intelligence just flee her mind to pool at her itching stranger-danger zones. She’s been super busy, dang it! I’m exhausted for her just by writing the sequence of events out. (I know I can’t get THAT much done in 12 hours- oh, she slept too!) (She puts the Super in “HERO”ine) She’s spent maybe an hour in this dude’s presence, but now she thinks she loves him, and his POV is thinking the same about her, too…
Awww… how sweet, and toe-curling, and sexy… I hope they make cute babies on their first time, because that’s the rational thing to do.
Are you freakin’ kidding me? Seriously?
(I’m not making fun of just this book, since the 7 I tried to read in the past 24-hours have followed this same formula)
I’m not a feminist, but this pisses me off. & more often than not, all women are depicted as dumbassed bitches while spouting how intelligent, streetwise, and gun-shy they are. Trust? What’s that? It’s called following strangers around, and then letting them touch the places your parents warned you about without having something called a conversation first. *growls in fury*
But it’s love at first sight, right?
No, sweetie, it’s a thing called lust.
How about the author creates some sexual tension by NOT having the characters have sex and fall in love in the beginning of the book (both of which spells out ‘THE END’ for me) Build to the moment without giving into instant gratification and ploys. If you wrote a douchebag, have him douchebag it up for ½ of the book (love/hate, sexual frustration and tension) with a ¼ for redemption, and the last ¼ for ‘THE END’.
Don’t give me the meat before you even scoop the serving of potatoes on my plate, after completely bypassing the salad. We are a generation of dessert eaters when I still want to digest the whole, entire meal.
Book after book, after book, after book, after book, in an endless stream of sameness- a sameness I cannot stand.
I understand there is a guideline to each genre, a formula to follow, but c’mon! Don’t ruin your well-thought-out story by following the herd. The incredible story you briefly mentioned, as a way to introduce your character so she could get acquainted with the nearest mattress, IS the story you should be telling. Not some mediocre, dime-a-dozen, formulaic clone of all the rest.
I read like an editor, and I’m not speaking of grammar rules, even though we all break them. I read a book like an editor, reading it in a way to FIX it, develop it into something more. It’s this quest that has me looking at my books with clear eyes, longing to better them for the reader. A quest I will soon be embarking upon for the Mistress & Master of Restraint Series. I don’t follow the herd. I don’t write for my readers. I challenge myself to write a better book than my last, to remove the ‘character lobotomies’ from the storyline, to write with true substance, to evolve the chemistry, the lust, the intensity of the characters’ romance.
I keep trying to read, trying to finally reach that intoxicating feeling where if disturbed I’d knife the asshole who broke me from the story… but I can’t find that plane of existence any longer.
I need more, and dear Author, I want YOU to give it to me!