I’ve wondered a bit if the #MeToo movement has changed our vision of the romantic hero. I don’t think abusive men have ever been the norm in romance novels, but they’ve made their appearances. And the arrogant alpha male is certainly a common trope.
Our love affair with alpha males
I personally still like many alpha traits. I grew up reading Harlequin Presents, and they often featured larger than life heroes – think princes, sheikhs, CEOs, shipping magnates… So that still feels pretty standard for me when I think of romance novel heroes.
I try to avoid watching long form t.v. — by “long form” I mean any drama whose continuing story spans one, two, three, or more seasons (like Lost or Game of Thrones), vs. “episodic” shows, which contain a (largely) standalone story within each episode (like Law & Order or ER).
Long form shows have become very popular in recent years, as streaming services look to increase their hours viewed stats.
The problem is, it’s very hard for writers to offer an effective story arc if they don’t know how long their show will run. And even if they know how they want everything to pan out, with so many episodes to write, there’s gonna be some filler. So, you end up with endless and unending (ok, those are the same) plot. Complicated, often pointless (IMHO) plot.
So I avoid them, in general.
It’s summertime (where I live, anyway), so the ‘perfect’ time to watch a frothy, fluffy romance – like Netflix’s A Perfect Pairing, which is well-qualified as summertime viewing:
- It’s about wine and wineries (and sheep!)
- It stars a former Nickelodeon child actor, Victoria Justice – What is it about former child actors and light romance?
- It’s a Netflix Original – I would say most Netflix romances fall squarely into the ‘light’ category
Before I begin my critique, let me just clarify that I am in fact talking about the Netflix film, A Perfect Pairing, and not the Hallmark romance of the same name that also came out this year. Wouldn’t want anyone to be confused.
Romance readers (and viewers) have a love/hate relationship with the concept of instalove (a.k.a. love at first sight); some view it as supremely romantic, while others view it as shallow and unrealistic.
I agree that pure instalove — when the leads have no real interaction at all, yet they declare love and make commitments to one another — is hard to pull off.
Have you ever watched a romantic movie and at the end, when one character declares their love to the other, instead of swooning, you cringed and covered your eyes?
I have. Just the other day.
The movie? The Proposal.
Yes, the Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds film, circa 2009.
Actually, I first saw it years ago, and had vaguely negative feelings about it. But, I think that first viewing was on a plane or something, and I didn’t give it my full attention. So I thought I’d give it another shot.
I am a huge fan of Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game – the book, that is.
It’s one of the best romances I’ve ever read, mostly because it manages to sustain romantic tension from beginning to end – an extremely rare feat, in my experience.
The movie, on the other hand…
I’ve read that Netflix’s Single all the Way is the first gay holiday romance movie. (On Netflix? In the world?? I’m not sure.) Whatever, this is yet another example of Netflix choosing not to push the envelope.
The movie is tepid. There’s nothing here to offend, because there’s basically nothing here at all.
The gays deserve better than this.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my “career” as a writer (it’s probably telling that I put that in quotation marks), probably because I’ve been dipping my toe in some new things this past year — joining RWA, launching a website, submitting my first query to an agent, getting my first rejection, etc.
There are plenty of options for writers today, and so much advice floating around. I’ve found it distressing at times, comparing myself to others who seem to have it all together, and wondering if a socially-anxious, introvert like me has what it takes to find readers.
When I started reading romance novels, oh, more than thirty years ago now, it seemed like they were all M/F stories, told solely from the female point of view.
But, somewhere along the way, readers decided they liked the idea of getting some insight into the male perspective, and the tide turned in favour of dual POV.
Nowadays, depending on the sub-genre you’re working in, either single or dual POV can be acceptable. I’d say the vast majority of romances are written from dual perspectives, but that doesn’t mean single POV is dead.
So, if anything goes, how do writers choose which approach to use? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? And, is dual POV actually better than single POV??
As a romance writer, I’ve always felt a bit affronted that there are so many other meanings and uses for the words ‘romance’ and ‘romantic’.
I know, I know. Word meanings evolve over time, and it’s perfectly natural that there are multiple meanings.
(That’s the best argument I can think of.)
Anyway, despite my misgivings, I was curious about how the meaning of ‘romance’ evolved, so I did a little research…