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  1. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    P.S. I hate you. A rant on Romance.

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by SilverRam, Apr 18, 2009.

    Romance, you irk the very core of my being. You're all I find in small bookstores. Your covers make me cringe. You've dug your claws into shape shifters and won't let them explore other roles.

    Nay, this isn't the time for all that. What I'm really peeved about is how romance is introduced. Even in novels where romance is a sub-plot, and not essential to the main.

    Why do the protagonists always have to note how attractive the other is on first meeting? Maybe this is my asexual side screaming here, but shouldn't relationships be based on emotional attraction? Shouldn't they first consider a relationship because they really connect that way, and not because "Look at her saunter away, a black beauty."

    It just seems so false, sorry I just can't understand how a healthy relationship can be based upon that. Whats so difficult about having the mains realize their love after they've actually spent time together? It ruins the "Does she love really him?" Seriously, be subtle people, be subtle..... Thoughts?
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes! I agree completely. This is why I appreciate Sarah Dessen's books. She doesn't over-describe the hero and heroine, and it's the personality and skills/talents of the male character that is focused on rather than his physique and good looks. It makes the story so much more satisfying when the couple finally gets together because you appreciate and understand each of them, and you can totally understand what caused them to be attracted to each other in a meaningful way.
     
  3. medioxcore
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    medioxcore Member

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    you're telling me your first impressions don't come from appearance first?

    before you get to know a person..

    before you ever say a word to them..

    they way they look will either appeal to you or not.

    maybe it's because i don't read romance; they probably waaaaaay overdo it in that genre, but i don't see anything wrong with describing the physical appeal of a new character. it's how things happen IRL. i mean... unless you're refusing to look at people until you get acquainted with their personality first.

    a deep relationship doesn't doesn't have to be based off physical attractiveness, but looks will always be the first thing you notice.


    ediit----------


    that came off totally matter-of-fact.

    lol. not my intention. i apologize if it was at all harsh.
     
  4. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Which do you notice first?

    "Oh, that person has a nice figure."

    "Oh, that person has the same interests I do."

    Just because someone notices that another person is attractive doesn't mean that's all the person cares about. It's just, on first meeting as you said, there's not much else to go by.
     
  5. x_raichelle_x
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    x_raichelle_x Contributing Member

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    I love romance books! But I agree with what you said, the basis of the relationship shouldn't be founded on their physical attraction to each other. Unfortunately, that shouldn't happen in real life either; but it does, hence why it happens in books. In an ideal world, people would be romantically attracted to people on an emotional level, but it just doesn't happen. There's also the psychological side; people subconciously choose to interact with people of the same 'attractiveness level' as themselves. People's friends tend to be on the same 'attraction level' as them, which stems from who you subconciously think you will be able to relate to. Basically, Psychology says you are as good looking as your friends and your partner. Not always true, and certainly not the ideal way to find your soul-mate, but research backs it up.
     
  6. Miswrite
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    Miswrite Member

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    I've only read Lock and Key by Dressen, but it was very good. I like the way she writes her romances.
     
  7. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    I don't get this. You're saying you've NEVER seen a hot girl/guy and been physically attracted to them before you knew them? It's just how people are, you don't know anything about them before you talk to them, and the first thing you notice is the physical side.

    Maybe I just don't read enough romance novels to get it, but your complaints don't seem to have much water. How does something like the narrator talking about how hot this girl is mean that they won't emotionally connect later on? The physical stuff should be just an introduction to the rest of the relationship, and noticing physical attributes in the opposite sex is very human and I don't see anything wrong with it.
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, so knowing full well that I am about to get claymored for this...

    Romance novels serve a purpose and have a particular audience. Paint them anyway you like. Use whatever euphemism makes you feel comfortable in their purchase. Romance novels are meant to titillate and arouse.

    OK?

    Let's call things by their real names for a moment and not dance around the white elephant in the room.

    Romance novels are not intended to cause the reader to pull away from the story for a moment and ponder their particular slice of the human experience, or wax metaphysical as to what the human paradigm really is. They are meant to be page turners to, "get to the good parts."

    If you are looking for a deeper, more profound experience, then you need to look elsewhere in the bookstore.
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Having a hot date/one night stand/fling is not the same as a meaningful relationship, obviously. And most romance stories are about finding the *yawn* love of one's life.
    You'll say 'Well, how does a person know the relationship is going to end in long term commitment when he/she first meets the opposite number?' What's the spark?
    Funny, but lots of people I know ended up with the ideal partner who isn't at all the 'type' they were generally attracted to. Or even as good looking as partners they went off.
    Think of it like the Mr Rochester/Mr Darcy syndrome, they are not attractive to the heroine at first but there is just something about them...
    In other words, physical appearance is only superficially important for true romance. That's what makes it special.
    P.S. And people go love-blind, I think. They don't really see the other clearly at first. Only later they find flaws...
    P.P.S. That's why most Romance stories are rubbish and I (generally) don't have time for them.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I've seen quite a few stories in which the central romance does not begin with physical attraction. Often, the person someome immediately drools over turns out to be an utter loser, and the real relationship develops between the two people who developed a nmutual respect.

    This is a writing community. If you don't like the trope, create your own!
     
  11. Okie
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    Okie Member

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    I used to read quite a few of those romance novels. You know the ones bought at the checkout line in the grocery store. They were cheap enough I could afford several hundred of them, and I learned to write in english through reading this stuff, some sci-fi and some horror stuff as well. But I digress. :p

    Romance novels are basically one step up from the kind of soft porn you'd see on cinemax at 3am. (So I'm an insomniac, sue me)
    The whole point is not eternal love depicted in an acurate way. It's meant to fire up the imagination of lonely housewives. And it does that rather well. As for the realism thing, I don't think anyone that is into reading them really wants to know about reality, they probably have a boatload of reality just waiting to whap them over the head. They want to dream a fantasy about some chiseled Robert Pattison looking hunk getting busy. That's how I see it anyways.
     
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  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is also true, Cog. More so in the realm of cinema then in books, given that cinema lends itself better to the portrayal of the plain Jane becomes stunning beauty story. Sadly, cinema mixes the message by making the end goal for the plain Jane the attainment of actual physical beauty, as opposed to the more profound process of become attracted to someone for who they are, regardless of physical aspect, as one becomes attracted to their personality.

    Oh, what a tangled web they weave when screenplays lack substance... :rolleyes:
     
  13. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    Ok, let me explain a little further. I'm generally replying to everyone.

    I don't like romance, I don't read a lot if it, but I do notice the romance sub-plots and that's what happens as well. I do realize what audience romance is geared towards, but I'm not talking specifically about books labeled 'romance' but more like books that have some romance.

    Yes, first impressions do only have appearance to go by, but why doesn't friend-who-stays-friend notice how new-friend-who-stays-friend have the cutest pert nose? Why only future-lover and future-lover? And this isn't just first impressions that they will notice the attractiveness of their future love interest.

    And really, its so unrealistic. "He was so cute when I first saw him, and then I got to know him and we bounded to well!"

    What kind? Aesthetically or simply physically? Because I'll rarely want to get to know someone because of their appearance. I'm really bad at judging looks anyway.

    I'm not saying that noticing appearance is wrong or bad writing, but sometimes its just ridiculous. They first form a relationship because they are both pretty? Oh sure that's going to last. Maybe when the MC realizes he does love this girl, then maybe he can see her as the most beautiful thing on the planet.

    Isn't subtle hints are more fun read, anyway? If you start to speculate that Person A and Person B may start developing an interest, through their interactions, doesn't that mean something? And I'm not talking about mindless flirting.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I do hear where you are coming from, and the only answer I can think of is that perhaps in the original manuscripts of uncounted books, these small details did get mentioned, but were edited away in the final cut as the writer was queried by the editing staff, "What is this doing here? How does this move the story forward. I understand you want detail, but having the protag notice these things about the person they will not fall in love with is going to confuse the reader and muddle the storyline. Fix it."

    Yes? No? Maybe?
     
  15. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    Maybe, I'd be interested to hear if that happened to anyone.

    Its still so boring and predictable. You hear A notice B's appearance and then you know there's a bed scene a few chapters later. -rolls eyes- And obviously people who do not find each other overly attractive can't possibly be in love! No, that's just silly!
     
  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Not to sidetrack, but the above quoted bit would be a great piece of dialogue from someone discussing this subject, or something like it, in a story. I would save it if I were you. ;)
     
  17. Kratos
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    It's this way a lot because it's how our minds work. If all you do is see someone, you instantly judge them by appearance- not always consciously, but we do it nonetheless. If you see someone walking across the street in a dirty jacket with a long, unkempt beard your naturally assumption is to think they are homeless.

    In the same way, if you're reading a book about someone, and an attractive member of the sex they are attracted to appears, they are naturally going to think "Hey, they're pretty hot." The physical appearance attracts them to want to know the person better, and then a relationship could form from their interests and personalities.

    I'm not saying this is how it SHOULD work, only that it is how it DOES work.

    End ranting reply to rant.
     
  18. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    It's also called foreshadowing - I guess it's just not a very subtle method of it... >?

    Sometimes I think the mechanic is used in such an obvious way so that minor expectations can be created and then met, ultimately intended to give a sense of self-satisfaction to the reader ("Oh, I so knew that was going to happen" or "When is A gonna sleep with B already!?"). Where romance is concerned, you're most likely meant to be right there with A when they notice how hot B is, and ultimately hope for the bed scene some few chapters later.

    Sometimes it works well enough, I guess if it becomes a cliche it worked too well.
     
  19. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I personally don't like many romance novels and very few with a sub-romantic plot. The few I do like have people who are already friends slowly moving into a relationship or subtle (or not-so-subtle) overtones of the attraction between them that they never act on. It's not a book, but one series I watch definitely has the latter...I'm talking about the show Bones. It's not an overt relationship but there's definitely tension there. I think it still counts as writing, though, since someone had to write the script :-D

    Anyway, typical romance books are bland and boring because they're all the *same* or so it seems. I like atypical.

    ~Lynn
     
  20. SilverRam
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    This goes back to what I was saying about showing attraction through the character's interactions. The reader is not dumb, if you write it right than they will pick it up. Artists must convey this all the time, they can't tell you what the characters are thinking, but they can show you through really slight things. I have a feeling the human mind can pick up on just these little things. Isn't that what a lot of writers say? Show the reader, not tell them?

    I understand and agree with the first part of what you said. Not sure how I feel about the second, true for some people I'm sure it worked well but it appears strange in my eyes.
     
  21. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Although I agree that relationships shouldn't be superficial, it is unrealistic to not show physical attraction. I don't believe anyone when they claim they don't recognize what they are attracted to, whether that is a buff body or slender body, deep eyes, or long lashes.

    Talents are also superficial. You see a guy playing a guitar and are attracted to him. How is that not superficial?

    Also, it's easy to build tension in a romance if she finds him attractive. It's something most every girl can relate to. I think the main reason why most women want the hero to be attractive is because they are reading to escape. While reading they want to fall in love with a good looking guy, not your average guy, or even not attractive guy.

    In the romance I am working on, Age For Love, the hero is attractive, but she easily blows him off, especially because he's forty-one and she's twenty-two. It's not until she starts to get to know him and watches him play violin that ignoring him becomes difficult. She's homeless and doesn't feel she can ever be loved. She feels she's not right for anyone.
     
  22. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    Architectus, I do agree that it would be unrealistic not to show some kind of physical attraction, and that they will be likely to be attracted to certain things, but on they other hand it's unrealistic that the person you find most attractive is going to be your 'soul mate'.

    True, talents are just as superficial. But love after going through a lot together is not.

    Your romance actually sounds like something I'd read, actually I'm quite intrigued. If you're going to publish it, let me know when it hits the stores.

    I agree with you completely. Subtle overtones, between-the-lines attraction is better. When you read it back over again you suddenly go "Oh, its so much more obvious now." That's always fun.
     
  23. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    On a side note, my favorite types of romances are like A Walk to Rememeber. I enjoyed the subtle romance that developed in the TV show The Office.

    I enjoyed a recent romance I read called What I Did For Love.

    I mainly read contemporary romance because they are more free to write unique stories. Historial romances don't allow for much creativity. The publishers want the cookie cutter stories.

    One of the best love stories I've watched lately was Seven Pounds. What a powerful drama-romance film. I cried six times. One of those times I cried for about three minutes straight. A movie of novel has never made me do that before.
     
  24. firequill
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    Having characters notice each others' looks first is actually more realistic than only being attracted emotionally. The truth is this is how people work - we are quick to judge and the first thing we have to go by is physical attraction. There's nothing wrong with being physically attracted to someone and physical looks is all we have to go by when we meet. It isn't superficial unless people like each other for their looks and ONLY for their looks. I'm sure there are books where this is the case, but most I've read start out with physical attraction and move on to something deeper, which is actually what happens in real life.
     
  25. Dr. Doctor
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    They don't form a relationship because they are pretty, but it is at least a factor in their minds as they meet each other. Obviously most relationships worth writing about will have more to them, but physical attractiveness is still a factor, and it is realistic to have it be one of the first things people notice about one another, even if it is mired in more subtle hints. That makes for interesting writing.
     

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