I need to preface this post by saying that I love my romance writing friends. Many of them own their craft, and write compelling works full of engaging characters and dynamic plots. You are awesome. You know who you are.
But personally. . . I’m over it. Maybe I am getting old, or I’ve reached some kind of personality crisis, but I can’t stand romance in the books I read. I’ve never been the sort of girl that looked for romance in my life, I’m too practical for that, but as a teenager and a twenty something I could lose myself quite easily in the make believe love story on the page. I loved a well written scene of the tension built by anticipation, the sentimental descriptions of that first kiss after chapters of waiting. Not anymore. Now when we get to the mushy love stuff, I skim. I sound like the Savage kid from the Princess Bride, “Do we have to read the kissing part?! Skip on to the fire-swamp; that sounded good.”
I recently started reading a YA Steampunk series which shall remain nameless. It had all manner of potential. It was intriguing and visceral. Lots of action and mystery, and then what happens? The second book in the series becomes this endless string of internal he-loves-me, he-loves-me-nots. Teenagers getting all twitter-pated over each other, adults navigating the waters of a new relationship just doesn’t have the pull and the thrill for me that it used to. And when I come across it, I see it as an obstacle to what I really want to be reading, the plot.
So I guess this is my plea: fellow writers, please don’t tease me with amazing, intriguing plot and then make me spend the middle books of your series slogging through some romantic drivel that doesn’t move the story forward. I understand that relationships between characters are important. I get that sometimes they fall in love. But the kissing, do we have to hear about it all the time? And how many times can two people really be excited about proximity to each other? After a bit it should be normal, not worthy of six sentences of description that I have to graze over once a chapter.
I recognize that this is partly my fault for picking up YA books. Yes, the target audience is hormone saturated teenagers, but even they will admit that the best parts are the humor and the action. And if I wanted the main plot line to be the mushy love stuff, I would have picked up a romance.
Perhaps this rant is brought to you by my becoming a fuddy-duddy, or perhaps it is that my first published story, Sense and Cyborgs, is a prime example of the kinds of stories I want to be reading. I know it can be done. I did it. Lots of action, interesting character dynamics, there’s even a bit of that mushy love stuff, but it never trips up the plot. It never draws you out of the bigger story. We can be the change we want to see in the literary world. I’m hoping my name will someday be synonymous with character driven books that don’t stop moving and never get caught in romantic mire. Until then, to each their own, and no romance for me.