Romance novels are often blamed by outsiders for any number of silly objections, primarily by setting girls up for unrealistic expectations. Now, I could go on for ages about people’s ability to separate fantasy from reality, and the value of quality escapist fiction…. but let’s set that aside for the day and talk about a few areas where romance novels really do mislead a bit:
Compressed Timeframe. Boy meets girl, conflict happens, gets resolved, and then, boom! They live happily ever after, even if they’ve only known each other a few weeks. From a writer’s perspective, this happens because if we stretch the romance out to cover the span of a couple of years (a respectable amount of time to date to be certain the couple is in love, not merely infatuation.). Well, this makes for a dull novel. A handful of novels that go for an epic scope (Gone with the Wind) will have the time to let a relationship play out over a few years, however, most genre writers only get about 300 pages to make our case. That is the length the public wants to buy, and the page count most writers are given to work with. So the time frame will be short folks… don’t try this is real life.
Opposites Attract. This is a convention writers often fall back on because you have got to have conflict sparking in your book. There are lots of other ways to have conflict, but opposite personalities is a stand-by that never gets old. Something to keep in mind: That reckless bad boy who charmed the prim & proper heroine won’t be so charming after they’re married when she is home with the babies while he carouses with the guys and fritters his money on hot cars….. just sayin…
Oh, that healin’ heroine! We love wounded heroes in Romance-landia. I love to see a hero who has been scorched by experience and expose him to the cool, healing spirit of the heroine and he is magically transformed. If a guy is snarling, wounded, and bitter, the odds are he needs therapy, not little Miss Sunshine.
Damsels in Distress. I’m also not a big fan of damsels in distress. They are usually in distress because of a string of bad life decisions, and falling into the arms of a good man may solve the immediate problems, but give it a few years. If these women took the easy road out of their troubles, odds are they aren’t good long-term bets. Men want a partner, not an obligation.
By the way….Ariel and Eric from the Little Mermaid are pretty much guilty of all of the above!