Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Twilight of my Career as a Romantic Novelist

Having endured one book of the Twilight series and meandered around the local book store looking at scores and scores of Vampire and Werewolf and Zombie romances designed to quench the thirst for netherworld relationships in tweens and teens and people who should know better, I have come to a few conclusions about the modern literary world at least with respect to this sort of purchase.  Forgive me if you love the stuff, my internal snark needed some exercise.

10) Readers want an other worldly romance.  Whether the mysterious man is from New Zealand, Bermuda or the third dimension, the male must carry with him in the very air, a whiff of the unknown, the powerful, the culturally greater that comes from anywhere but here.  With the world wide web, the wide world is no longer as exotic as it once was.  Hence, writers must craft a whole host of new places and cultures to create that spicy otherness so necessary for the romance novella of today.

9) Sex, whether desired or achieved, is passionate, defining, all consuming and beyond.  Like the Greek myths of yore, the sparkling experience of those singular moments whether in Wicked or in Bridges of Madison County, have permanent marks on the women who experience them.  Every sacrifice, gift, memory, joy and act of devotion by any other human, man, woman or child pales in comparison and nothing that comes afterwards compares either.  It's sort of a one shot deal.  But apparently, what a one shot. 

8)  Money is never an issue.  Even if it was before, it isn't now.  Careers are reworked to be dashing and more viable and important as a result of the defining relationship. (Bridget Jones)  Cars that were troublesome and difficult become a source of humor and intimacy and then eventually get replaced by the largess of the lover either anonymously or as a farewell romantic gesture sort of thing.  I broke up with a guy once.  I got a good bye and I know we'll still be friends letter.  No car, not even a hot wheel. Maybe you have to be undead to do that sort of stuff.

7) Girls don't actually have to do anything, they can just emote across the page and the men apparently find this irresistible.   I knew women like this in graduate school.  They seem perpetually puzzled when men weren't sniffing at them like felines under the spell of catnip.  Speaking as a grown woman, ewwwwww. 

6) School like money and work serves only as a backdrop for painting in character traits about the feme fatale and the prospective hottie hunky.  The formula works similar to a Bond movie.  If the woman likes science, the audience or reader thinks "Oh, she is smart."  If the woman is painting, the reader/audience understands, she is a talented artist on the cusp of being something great.   If the lady quotes Shakespeare or plays a cello, her gifts speak to the hero's soul, piercing his carefully protected psyche with her earnest love of beauty.   No actual tests of scholarship, study, craft or art need be created, it's simply implied.  Once the eyes meet and everything that was empty suddenly isn't, the environment becomes empathetic with the protagonist heroine.  The weather and the moors collaborate to become a physical mood ring for the reader just in case anyone was unclear on what was happening internally.  

5) Every romance needs a subplot and usually it's a threat to the romance itself.  A protective father, a jealous ex, a needy family, Dr. Van Helsig, whathaveyou, has to prevent the defining moment of passion from happening too soon. That something will be framed somewhere between misguided and out and out diabolical.  Evil vampires and angry Capulets are cut from the same cloth.  The hero and heroine will prove their worth to each other via triumphing over these exterior obstacles while revealing internal desirable traits to each other in momentary spurts of creativity, courage, pluck and determination.  Of course the persuing enemies of the romance will eventually wind up thwarted by a combination of the couple's skills.

4) Guys have companions, fellow friends and an understanding family.  The girl usually comes alone or with a family with issues which squelch her true beauty and being.  The man and his family become her world, her dowry, her source of all meaning.  The girlfriends that were once inseparable, become backdrop to be given short shrift.  The family receives her pink slip from the indentured servitude she suffered under their demands.  Sure these characters may complain and even wind up conspiring with angry mobs or vampires ratting out the romantic duo in a fit of peevish revenge or mistaken parental protectiveness, but their secondary status is a permanent consequence of the relationship.

3)  The Rule of Three: one girl, two guys.  One she is fated to marry, one she loves or one she should love and another who compels her beyond her brain's capacity to reason to ignore everyone and everything else.  The guys verbally spar, one up in courtship and eventually physically fight.  The outcome is only in doubt in the dim bulbed heroine's brain. After all, she only emotes, she doesn't actually think.   Team Jacob Team Edward....Guys....Bella?  She's not all that.  

2) Romantic fight. You knew this was coming right? I mean, it can't be pure lovey dovey all the time. To have passion, one must have conflict that simmers, smolders, sparks and smokes. So we have the opposites attract scenario and the great philosophical exposition of opposing values that must be reconciled for the couple to endure. It's very dramatic and usually involves prejudices that must be torn down and misperceptions that can be easily explained away if one or the other would simply listen and the fateful final decision that sends one suitor packing unless they come back to exact revenge in which case packing takes on a whole new meaning. It is usually consummated in either the ground breaking sex or the ground breaking break up or ground breaking tragic death like in Titanic.

1) And the number one truth I've uncovered from thumbing through the various tomes available for your reading pleasure this summer:  I'm doomed as a romantic novelist.

1 comment:

MightyMom said...

I'll never read another book the same way again!

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