Monday, November 24, 2008

Killing Romance Cliches

I think we all want to kill the romance cliches. The romance cliches give us a bad name. Sinead did a great post on killing cliched characters and while some of the tried and true plots will live on (my December book is a secret baby book and I tell you - it was a blast to write. Go figure.) what really needs to killed and killed dead is the cliched writing. The throbbing and heaving, if you know what I mean. But more than that - bigger than that - we need to look hard at those cliched scenes. And right now I'm looking hard at the NARRATIVE RATIONALIZATION scene. Lovin' all caps.

When Sinead gave us her plan to not write the transition scenes between big scenes it seemed to me to be an EXCELLENT exercise in killing the cliches - in particular that narrative scene where in the hero or heroine reflect on whatever happened in the scene before and make it all okay in thier heads to be attracted to a possible murderer/be attracted to his secretary/to have had crazy monkey sex with an ex/to have lied to a kid/to have lied to a mom/to have stolen the gems/ WHATEVER!

I hate writing those scenes and I think when we are uncomfortable or hate writing a particular scene - we don't write well. In fact, I would guess we start using a whole lot of cliches when we're writing scenes we don't like. To be honest, I think the whole romance genre can live without that narrative scene -- good strong POV and excellent characterization practically kill the need for that scene anyway. Of course, good strong POV and excellent characterization are the hard part and knowing when you've done it right is even harder. So, we write that narrative scene because all the romances we loved reading and the ones that inspired us to write have those scenes.

Obviously, we can't just have one big scene after another (or can we?) but there does need to be some resting scenes. Not boring, not cliched, just a tad slower than say - hero and heroine killing a bad guy, or whatever your big scenes are. And maybe that's the real point of subplots. I think Anne Stuart knows that. JR Ward TOTALLY knows that.

Sinead is clearly on to something.


Amy Ruttan said...

Oh yeah, kill 'em!! Rationalization scenes are just telling the reader what they already know, you know.

Like conversations between characters that give you the info dump.

And I don't use throbbing, throbbing reminds me of some kind of gross pulsing wound or something. LOL.

Anonymous said...

Amy, I hate throbbing, although I wish I could say, truthfully, that I'd never used it.

Molly, great post. We shouldn't rely on repition and scenes that don't do anything to fill page count..
That's my new mantra

Maureen McGowan said...

Another thing I think a lot of writers do, is when they don't 100% buy a character's motivation they take a scene to work it out and explain it. Who me? No, I never do that.

Molly O'Keefe said...

you kidding me, Maureen! I take the whole book to do it! But by the endof the book, like Sinead says, I'm all caught up in word count-- which really is so ridiculous -- I hate cutting, or I've convinced myself I need those scenes, because maybe I haven't done the job I thought I did.

Anonymous said...

Great post! And what kills me is I'm sitting there thinking about it and I just don't know if I have those scenes in my latest WIP.

Doesn't that suck? That you write a whole book put heart and soul into it - but you can never *see* what it is. Good or bad.

You only know when the rejections pile up with the very vague "it's just not right for me.." that you know you must have gotten it wrong.

I'm going back looking for those scenes tonight.

Thanks Molly!

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