Discuss, People!

Redgirl_and_knight01_mDiscuss what? — you ask.

I wasn’t addressing “you” in a general sense.

Instead, I was addressing characters, more particularly, the heroes and heroines in some romance novels who don’t fricking talk to each other, thus creating false conflicts.

You know the ones I mean.  The heroine who many years ago got pissed at something she “thought” the hero, her love interest at the time, did, but instead of talking to him, told him to get lost.  It’s now years later and she is still ticked off, but also still attracted, and the guy, also still attracted to her,  has no effin’ clue why she dumped him to begin with — and SHE WON’T TALK ABOUT IT NOW EITHER!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell, but REALLY?

If she really had loved him and was hurt and mad as hell — she would’ve confronted him with the supposed malfeasance. Then she would’ve found out right away that it was (a) a plot by her arch rival to get the hero for herself, (b) a plot by another guy who wanted her and didn’t want her with the hero, (c) a plain misunderstanding of what she saw or heard, or (d) any combination of the above.  Easy-peasey.

But then the author would not have a book.  I call this the “soap opera” approach to writing romance aka the “too stupid to talk” syndrome (TSTT).  I can’t tell you how many times back in the 60s I yelled at the television screen when Luke and Laura (General Hospital) broke up or got mad at each other over stuff that could’ve easily been explained if they had just sat down and had a heart-to-heart conversation. But then  soap operas depend on such convenient misunderstandings.

Sorry, people, but creating false angst through misunderstandings that could easily be set straight with one soul-cleansing conversation doesn’t hack it with me.

This is why I write romantic suspense — at least there is an exterior conflict to keep the plot going while the H/H’s interior conflicts are exacerbated by the pressure cooker atmosphere of the action plot.  If there is angst in my novel, it is a derivative of something really bad happening in their lives — not a missed chance at sitting down and discussing it like two mature adults.

Now you know my feelings on the TSTT syndrome, how do you feel?  Do you like angst or not?  And why?

Thanks for letting me vent. I feel better now that we have had this conversation. See?  Wasn’t that easy?

12 thoughts on “Discuss, People!

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  2. It always drives me nuts when the only reason there’s any conflict between them is because the heroine chooses to jump to conclusions instead of asking one or two simple questions, and then proceeds to accept that first knee-jerk impression as being the gospel truth of the situation without ever once even considering there could be another interpretation. Especially when it’s something like she *thinks* she sees her guy having a tete a tete with his ex, and even though she KNOWS the ex isn’t to be trusted any further than she could throw her, she just runs off all hurt instead even once for a moment bothering to consider that maybe it’s all a set up. I tend to lump TSTT in with TSTL, because that same heroine usually does other boneheaded things that put her life in jeopardy. Makes me just want to shake her. Or slap her.


  3. I agree wholeheartedly. This false conflict is the main reason I never could quite get into Seinfeld when it was on the air. (Don’t shoot me!) Nearly all of the comedic conflict that happened on that show stemmed from this same lack of communication and it drove me nucking futz!

    I also dislike it when an author uses the same basic premise for conflict in a series of novels. The heroine can only be threatened/kidnapped by the bad guys so many times before I see the plot point coming a mile away and feel insulted as if I lacked the intelligence to buy the story any other way.


  4. I like my angst in small doses and it irritates me when the conflict between characters is too unreal or silly to believe. But, you’re right Monette, without the angst there’d be no story.


    • Thanks, Jianne. I don’t mind “real” angst — I hate “convenient” angst. To me it means the author needed more words so he/she had to drag out the internal/emotional conflict longer.


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  6. Monette: I had to smile when I read Discuss, People! I’ve bought and read a raft of novels in which there was convenient angst. Silhouette published a line called Second Chance. Some of the novels offered the convenient misunderstanding. But the writer got it published. Give her kudos for moxie. I really did not become a discerning reader until after I was published. There is a positive aspect of reading a manufactured plot/device that annoys. It can give the writer insight about how to create heroines. Yours are always strong, mouthy, stubborn and adventurous. A hero would misunderstand those women at his peril!



    • Thanks, Jackie. Yes the Second Chance at Love line had a lot of the convenient mistakes trope. Probably why I avoided that line. I didn’t mind the stories where the H/H lost a spouse and found a chance at a second go-round with happiness, but the stories where the H/H were separated for years because of a “misunderstanding” drove me around the bend.

      And I am happy my heroines come across as strong and adventuress — and yes, they can be stubborn (esp when their man is just as stubborn) and they can be mouthy since they have to get their point across. I believe in women speaking their minds and only using female wiles when up against a particularly mule-headed male. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to snag her man.


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