Q&A (and brownies) with J.J. Murray discussion

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What Irks You Most About Romance Novels?

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message 1: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Murray (johnjmurray) | 250 comments Mod
I had such a long list that I created a blog via my website that uses everything irksome I've encountered in my reading of romance novels and my viewing of romantic movies. You can access it by going to J. J. Murray and clicking on "J. J.'s Blog" in the lower left.

So ... what irks you most about romance novels?


message 2: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Green (niki_g) | 10 comments The top three: 1) Romance cliche/purple prose; 2) Flat characters (they annoy me in any novel); 3) Implausibility in any way, shape or form. I consider these three things taking the easy way out and/or lazy writing.


message 3: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) The most is implausibility, it messes with my suspension of belief. For example I read a book, where a person saw a small group attack another person, w/o a weapon or cell phone the main character steps into this fray and tried to stop the attack. Also did I mention this was in NYC. I gave the book the benefit of the doubt and continued reading by the end, I was ready to set it on fire but it belonged to the public library.

In romance novels I like predictability, it is a romance we already know that woman A and Man B will get together. The problem lies in if as a reader you know the pattern of the author, so that by 110 you know is a love scene and by page 225 someone feels betrayed etc.


message 4: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) The last story I read where the main character was older than 35, was not an IR, I think it was by Nora Roberts one of her trilogies.
I am curious Eugenia, if the heroine is older than 35, how old do you think the hero should be? It seems like the common trend for older women to get their groove with younger men.


message 5: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) 3 years is no time. I agree with you but it does seem to be the going-trend in books. A woman in her mid or late thirties starting a relationship with a man in his twenties. Also the woman in her thirties could always pass for younger of course.
In real-life I don't care about these things. However in fiction, it irritates me. It is like the author is staying no one born in the character's decade could love or understand them.


message 6: by Randi (new)

Randi (The Artist Formerly known as Guitar Chick) (guitarchick) | 20 comments 1. I don't like sex.
2. Perfect boys piss me off
3. I prefer action, not mindless stuff.


message 7: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) Guitar Chick-Dolly Dagger wrote: "1. I don't like sex.
2. Perfect boys piss me off
3. I prefer action, not mindless stuff."


That was very precise, you do realize that mindless stuff is the jelly that keep the bread of action together.


message 8: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) Eugenia wrote: "Well I read mostly IR romance and that is just not a big trend over there. Although it may be in a trend in regular romance. It just want to see more older women in IR romance, period, I don't care..."

Have you considered writing a story like the one you want? When I see something or read something that rubs me the wrong way or leaves any kind impression, I usually end up developing story sometimes just in my head. Sometimes it goes on paper.


message 9: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Murray (johnjmurray) | 250 comments Mod
Have to comment. When I first started out, an agent told me I should write with "40-year-old white women in mind since 40-year-old white women buy most of the books in this country."

I kid you not.

Yet ... how many romance novels have you read that star 40-year-old white women? I know 40 is the new 20, but seriously ...


message 10: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Tremont | 54 comments Eugenia, why do you doubt that you'll ever write professionally?


message 11: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) If there wasn't a group of readers that liked and bought the sub-genre chick lit. It wouldn't be what it is today.

As for romance novels where the heroine is 40 years old, I read two books by the same author. Not only were the woman older, they were historicals and erotic.


message 12: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Murray (johnjmurray) | 250 comments Mod
A hockey metaphor for you, Eugenia:

Wayne Gretzky once said, "You miss every shot you don't take."

Take a shot.


message 13: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Tremont | 54 comments Eugenia...I'm with JJ, take the shot.

Self-doubt is poison to a writer's career. If the Lord blessed with the gift of being a writer, it's your job/calling...dare I say, "profession" to get what He's gifted you with out to the masses regardless of how many people you think will buy it.

I'm constantly amazed at the number of writers I encounter almost daily that doubt their worth and in turn lower their goals.

Rather than submit their writing, it sits in a file cabinet collecting dust.

Because they fear rejection from a mass-market publisher, they google the first e-book publisher they can find and submit their masterpiece to an author mill where it gets virtually no editing or exposure beyond their few friends and associates upon release....never mind no recognition by the powers that be that can nominate their writing for a worthwhile award of two. I won't even mention the number of authors that have been financially taken advantage of by some e-publishers.

They self-publish without ever giving their manuscript a chance to cross anyone's desk, be it a publisher or an agent that might discover how brilliant they are. The people that benefit the most from their self-publishing is the vanity press they pay to put out their book.

Take a chance. Join a critique group or locate a few critique partners that's willing to be honest with you. I have three critique partners that I adore because they are tactful, but brutally honest. If you love your crit partners writing and trust their opinion, not only will your confidence as a writer grow, but they'll make sure that when the time to submit your writing to a publisher, it's utterly brilliant.


message 14: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Tremont | 54 comments My family virtually never reads my writing. NEVER. On the rare occasion that they do read something it's usually a short story that's completed. There's only so much of me they need to be exposed to. Besides, they love me and their opinion can't be trusted.

And I'm not insulted. But be careful about putting your writing out there free. People plagarize things that are free just like they plagarize those books and stories they have to pay for.

Don't let physical proximity to a writing group hinder your finding a crit group. None of my crit partners live anywhere near me. One's in Cali, another in Missouri and yet another in Georgia. But they're the people I trust the most when it comes down to giving me an opinion about my writing and vice versa.

Step out on faith girl! Meanwhile, I'm going back to the critique I've been working on for the past hour.


message 15: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) I lost my critique group, when I moved back to NYC. I missed them. Finding a group here is hard especially, if you don't want to pay.
As for family, they know I write and all my reviews from them are great. So I take salt when I get it from them.


message 16: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Murray (johnjmurray) | 250 comments Mod
My next two heroines are 36 and 30. Did I do that on purpose? Yes.

As I age, I find I can't fathom (and therefore write effectively about) the under 30 crowd anymore. It's not that I don't know any 20-somethings. (winces) But I'm now twice their age! They call me "Mister Murray," as if I'm some ancient fossil.

Ya feel me?


message 17: by Naomi (new)

Naomi James (goodreadscomnaomi_james) | 54 comments Off the top of my head, I can think of two things that I've come across on more than one occassion that irk the dickens out of me about some romance novels:

1. This trend toward heroines who are tiny, not petite, TINY (a few inches taller and a few pounds heavier than a child) being paired with a hero who is this ferocious, gargantuan man and/or warrior.
Too many things about their dimensions as it relates to the action scenes (not to mention intimate scenes) are impossible and fiddle with my S.O.D. so much that it distracts from my enjoyment of the story.
and
2. When the hero is such a tough nut to crack that three fourths of the story is over before the heroine gets a decent glimpse into the deep feelings he has for her. Meanwhile they've been through all kinds of near misses and tragedies and he still has trouble finding it in himself to open up to her. Both things have me muttering to myself angrily and once I just flat out threw the book across the room.


message 18: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) Naomi wrote: "Off the top of my head, I can think of two things that I've come across on more than one occassion that irk the dickens out of me about some romance novels:

I have seen that some times but not enough to irk me. I wonder about what the author is thinking sometimes or why I bothered with the book, if it bothers me.
I don't always few the smallness as weird because I am small person. I don't like the constant, description of youth. which mean a 28 year old woman looks 19. etc.



message 19: by Naomi (new)

Naomi James (goodreadscomnaomi_james) | 54 comments I hear you and agree about the constant description of youth.
While I admit that I read as many fantasy and paranormals as I do contemporaries, and this trend may be more prevalent to those novels, I feel that I should probably clarify what I was saying a little.
I don't find the smallness of the heroine weird, per se. My best friend of 27 years is 4'11" and 105 pounds dripping wet in spite of becoming a mother five times over.
My issue is when an author is compelled to pair a tiny heroine with a hero who may jab her in the eye with his elbow when they are standing side by side, among other things. He is a man who outweighs her by nearly two hundred pounds, and some of the situations they are in are just impossible to believe if just a bit of thought is put into it.
Then when it comes to intimacy, the hero continually references her 'tiny hands/feet' large round eyes, small heart shaped face and cupid's bow mouth.
That, to me, is the description of a child, and it weirds me out. Imo, it's almost as if the author wants us to keep the child like image of our heroine in our frontal lobes about as much as the story itself.


message 20: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) It can just be a preference for a tall man. I know I like to describe my guy characters as six feet and above; despite my shortness or my characters. I like tall guys and usually everyone over 5 feet is tall for me so I don't have a problem. However, describing it with a characters is hard.


message 21: by Naomi (new)

Naomi James (goodreadscomnaomi_james) | 54 comments ^5 on the preference for tall men both writing and in real life. Though most of my heroines are of average height (the shortest being around five four)all except one of the heroes I write are between six foot and six four. That was the average height of the guys I grew up with and I'm sure it's shaped how I see my heroes.


message 22: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) I actually knew a couple that had that extreme height difference, my friend was my height and a year older than her over six feet husband.

I have made some of my male characters 5'11" for diversity reasons. I realized everyone is 6 and up and that is not how the world works.


message 23: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) I think as writers we grow when you venture into the unknown. Take me for example, when I was younger and decided to write, I didn't write about black people. I didn't read about black people either. So I tried to write what I thought I knew. The first black romance I read blew me completely out of the water and then I read my first IR and it made me rethink my whole writing world for the better.
Sometimes even if it disturbs you, I think it should be read, watched or listened to.


message 24: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) I try to be open minded and PC. I will try almost anything once.


message 25: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) Yes I see your point, being PC can get you killed. But I just try to fair actually.


message 26: by Randi (new)

Randi (The Artist Formerly known as Guitar Chick) (guitarchick) | 20 comments I don't particulary have any preferances. If it's love, its love.


message 27: by JC (new)

JC (ainathiel) Guitar Chick-Dolly Dagger wrote: "I don't particulary have any preferances. If it's love, its love."

Fiction in general has split into several sub-genres.
There are sweet love stories, action love stories, suspense thriller love story, historical love stories, contemporary love stories, science fiction love stories, paranormal love stories, mystery love stories, NC-17 love stories etc.

Not to mention POVs. Some stories are fast paced, some are slower. As a reader w/o paying any attention you will gravitate to a type of author and story. Sometimes when you delve into something you new you can be pleasantly surprised or horrendously sick.

As a writer I try to read everything and get a feel of many authors. I am not trying to copy them but I do want to examine what made their book interesting to agents, publishers, readers.


message 28: by Abbon11 (new)

Abbon11 | 1 comments I certainly want fast phased love stories; those which I can easily relate to. I find it also hard to to put the book down when things get so exciting and events are full of substance.


message 29: by Eugenia (new)

Eugenia | 67 comments Right now, everything, it's all starting to sound the same especially with IR romance. JJ there's you and about two other authors that I read on a regular basis that keep it fresh for me. Everything else I'm like, is this the same author just changing their name? LOL.


message 30: by Olga (new)

Olga | 1 comments It irks me that romance writers primarily use YOUNG women as their heroines as if OLDER women are not involved in love either. The female characters seem almost perfect. I appreciate you J.J. for getting close to real characters like in Too Much of a Good Thing.


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