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Monday, June 13, 2011

How Far Can Romance Go?

The other day, as I was juggling plot points in my newest erotic romance so that I could bring in the intimate action in a reasonable and compelling way, I started to think about how much romance has evolved in the last couple of decades. And how much its evolution resembles what's happened in music.

Music, you say?

Okay, bear with me. To my way of thinking, there is a similarity.

When I first started reading romance in high school, I found it to be basically about people falling in love and overcoming conflict that was trying to keep them apart. I'm talking two people here. Menage and group action pretty much changed that scene - not that I'm complaining. And of course there were vampires, werewolves, sex toys, fetishes, you name it, throw into the mix to spice up the action further.

Kind of like pyrotechnics and the stuff Lady GaGa does adds juice to concerts and personal appearances.

Lady Gaga in her 'meat suit'

With the tremendously short attention span of the viewing and reading public, we're told there has to be a gimmick to grab the audience and hold them. In music, that seems to be whatever outrageous thing can be performed onstage without someone calling the police. In romance, it seems to be anything that may titillate or shock.

So where does romance go from here? How far can it go? How far should it?

The best romances I've read are ones that touched my heart, in addition to making me pant really hard. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm always looking for a good story first with unforgettable characters, not gimmicks, not sex toys, not all that other stuff. If it's there too, okay, but I still want the romance. That look in the guy's (or guys') eyes when first meeting a woman that will absolutely rock his (or their) world. The HEA that makes me think about the characters long after I've read the book.

Sort of like a great song and singer that stirs your soul. To the best of my knowledge, Barbara Streisand, Carrie Underwood and LeAnn Rimes never dressed up in a meat dress like Lady Gaga, nor have they donned makeup like KISS.



Maybe it's because they didn't have to in order to stand out from the crowd. Maybe that's where the difference lies.

Great music, like great romances, can succeed without all that other stuff. And if the other stuff is in there, it doesn't detract from what's good about the performance or the story...it enriches it.


8 comments:

Delaney Diamond said...

I thought your comment "they didn't have to in order to stand out from the crowd" was interesting. It seems like nowadays "the crowd" are the ones wearing meat dresses and people like Carrie Underwood and Adele stand out because they aren't doing those things.

In romance, sex sells. Kinky sex sells. Multiple partner sex sells. Vanilla sex sells. Different strokes for different folks. I personally prefer the romantic aspects of a romance and don't need all the extras, but it would be way too boring if we all wrote the same thing.

Tina Donahue said...

I agree, Delaney - authors have to write what they feel in their hearts. What I was getting at with that comment is that all the sex in the world, won't mask bad writing, poor plotting, or so-so characterization. After the shock wears off, so does the fascination with the story. Great stories, like great singers, shine with talent and hard work.

Fiona McGier said...

That's why I refuse to let my kids just copy music onto my I-Pod. I prefer to buy it, once I know I like it. There is just so much excellent music being produced, just as there are so many books e-published each day. I think it's up to the fans to support the artists/writers they like by buying their stuff.

Yes, shocking things get attention. But I agree with you, Tina, that once the shock wears off, if there is no quality there to see, the audience will leave also...hopefully.
That being said, is it me, or isn't Brittney's 15-minutes of fame long over? I keep expecting her to turn to country songs, because her life is one long lament about men who done her wrong.

Tina Donahue said...

LOL - yeah, Brittany's definitely seen better days.

As to shock value: I recall a book of short stories I read awhile back - "Blue World". In one of the stories, a young priest starts falling for a porn star. He gets videos of her work and at first, his jaw drops as he's watching the action, because he's very innocent. After about an hour, he started to get bored, because it was just sex. :)

Victoria Zumbrum said...

I am always looking for a good romance story that touches your heart. It doesn't have to be all about the sex. I love having romance in a mystery, action or murder mystery. It makes it more interesting. I also believe in true love and soul mates. I love reading that in books also. Tore923@aol.com

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Tore - sex is the cherry on top of the sundae - it's not the reason for the story, at least not for me. I like the sensual tension leading up to the sex, the HEA, the wooing. That, to me, is romance.

Pommawolf Emeraldwolfeyes said...

Tina I so agree withyou about the romance being lost in the stories. As for the music..agree as well. I want a story that draws me in to it. The development of each character as to who they are, how they came to be the way they are. Depth. I want reasons as to why I should care about them. Their humanity I guess you call it..*S* I love your comment:
"sex is the cherry on top of the sundae - it's not the reason for the story, at least not for me. I like the sensual tension leading up to the sex, the HEA, the wooing. That, to me, is romance."
Right dead on Tina! LOL

I love different kinds of music depending on my mood. But the rock n roll and the R&B have a deep sensuality for me. And some great country to...*S* Put great lyrics with rythmn & blues and it's pure sex and sensuality. It creates the emotions entwined with the romance for me as reader. Your statement is so dead on:
"After the shock wears off, so does the fascination with the story. Great stories, like great singers, shine with talent and hard work."

Thanks for the insight Tina...*S*

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, hon - great minds think alike, huh? :) Seriously, I'm so with you about the humanity and character development. I want to care about the characters. I want to cry, smile, laugh with them. If I don't, it's such a disappointment.