Thursday, February 15, 2007

Romance Fiction Rant of the Day...

So, I like romance series but I am starting to get annoyed by characters that do nothing but interrupt the romance in progress, in order to advertise a "coming attraction".

I mean, there is nothing wrong with mentioning that the hero has a friend. Then in the next book when his friend falls in love with an auburn-haired orthodontist (or whoever) it won't come as a big surprise. And this friend might be in the background in a few scenes. He isn't really part of the story but he isn't getting in the way either.

Even better, the friend might actually be part of the story. Maybe the hero goes to him for advice. Maybe the heroine goes to the friend for help when the hero gets in trouble. Maybe the friend tries to stop the romance because he is sure the heroine is a gold-digging trollop. You know, the friend is part of the main story and gets his own story later.

But why is it that what happens is often something like this:

She smiled, shaking her head. "One of these times it's going to stick. And you might find it's more complicated than it seems, this love business.

"Maybe you're right," he said with a shrug and the slight insolence of a man who's never had to choose between love and career. One day darlin', she thought to herself, I'd like to see you deeply in love and torn apart by it, then see if the superior smirk isn't wiped off that dark, handsome face of yours. One day.
(From Brit Bad Boys/Nancy Warren)

Holy foreshadowing, Batman. The heroine had no reason to have this conversation--let have such strong opinions about Mr. Tall, Dark and Smirksome (whom she had met briefly whilst in the throes of falling in "deeply" love with some one else, and being "torn apart" by it). Please, please guys. Secondary characters in a story should contribute to that story before trying to get me interested in reading more about their own.


Anonymous said...

I used to love romance sequels back when every book wasn't seen as fodder for the next one. Now I'm freakin' sick of them. Enough already! I don't like seeing characters from previous books over and over again. I missed the days when most writers wrote completely unrelated stories and characters.

Lara Santiago said...

Holy foreshadowing Batman.
That's funny! :)

I like 'connected' stories. Maybe they happen in the same created world or setting. The story should be stand alone though.

I've gotten fan mail asking about when I'm going to create a story for secondary characters in previous books.

Fans like connected books. :)

Anonymous said...

I like connected books, too, as a reader and an (aspiring) author. Secondary characters are important, and you have to invest in them or they come off as two-dimensional. It's a lot easier to give them that time and attention if you know you're going to see them again.

I have my one huge (stalled) project with dozens of characters that have inspired stories all their own. Even if the Big Baddie never does get published, it will have at least served as the starting point for half a hundred smaller stories.

Then again, I never had much use for friends of convenience, which is what Mr. Tall, Dark and Smirksome is. He's not a character. He's a blurb.

veinglory said...

Then of course there is the secondary character who takes over the show. I wrestle with those as well. You have to keep poking them back into the corner and promising them a sequel. So I guess you can;t win either way :)