Guess what. I have some pretty strong feelings about romance as it’s written today. Okay, not just romance, I have a gripe with what I believe is the most common trope in fiction today and it just happens to also be found in romance.
Let me explain…..
I once attended what was a good workshop on writing fiction —- until the presenter told writers how to ‘take their story to the next level’ and ‘get to the nitty gritty of things’ and ‘give your story the unvarnished truth’ and ‘shine the light on real life’ and ‘tell it like it is’ and so on. You get the idea. Not a happy trope in the bunch.
What did the presenter tell us to do? How to take our stories to the next level and so on? Simple. She showed us how to turn any story into a soap opera, complete with dysfunctional characters (main and secondary), bad judgment calls in every chapter piled on top of one another and the worse the better, secrets and lies, bad endings, bad calls, misjudgments, hair-pulling scream fests, and so on.
I don’t like soap operas. Never did. So that’s my least favorite trope and unfortunately it’s rampant in today’s fiction, in part, I suspect, to workshops like the one I attended.
As you might guess, my most favorite trope is the opposite. Decent, normal, well-adjusted people you’d like as friends who just happen to find themselves in interesting or difficult or dangerous or life-threatening situations and the story is how they get out safely or resolve whatever issues are facing them. You know the kinds of things I mean, those things people do every day that are fascinating enough to not need to be turned into soap operas in order to be interesting and to be published.
Alfred Hitchcock was a master at this type of story and his works are considered classics that are still honored and studied today. I doubt soap operas will last as long.
What do you like in romantic fiction? What do you dislike?