Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Delivering on Promises

I recently read a book (ebook) that sniffed out good from the description and appeared to be just what my mood called for. A little bondage, a capture scenario (waggling eyebrows), a super big bad alpha male - pretty typical D/s formula, but it sounded yummy for a late night erotic snack. The book promised to be an exciting battle of wills with two strong characters and the naughty edginess of a woman being captured and subdued. (No, we're not talking rape - you won't find those type stories in erotic romances, because while some women may have rape fantasies - they are just that, fantasies, and the reality of rape is hideously ugly. And I don't say that blithely.)

The story started out great. The strong female character with some smarts upstairs being "caught" by the hunky guy used to getting his own way. I gobbled up the words until all of a sudden the story took a bizarre turn and suddenly the big, strong alpha male was fighting to hold back tears, conflicted over a past trauma and the female character devolved into a total putz-ass. Ugh.

I have nothing against male characters (or men in real life) exhibiting emotions or even having an emotional breakdown scene. Hello, we're all human. Some heartrending emotion can add a layer of bittersweetness and conflict to a book, making it even more memorable. I've boo-hoo'd my way through more than one story before and thoroughly enjoyed the vicarious trauma. (Errr...sounds really icky when put that way. O.o)
And this is a big however - I'm no more enticed by sniffling male characters than I am by sniffling female characters. Pages and pages and PAGES of tears make me want to bang my head against the nearest hard surface. I stuck it out with the story though, because I'm a dumbass... okay, because I kept thinking that the promised storyline HAD to appear.
It had to.
When I reached the last page and it HADN'T, boy-howdy was I irritated.
Damn it. I was in the mood for some naughty bondage and characters pitting themselves against each other with lots of raunchy, hot sex until they both realized they were in lurv and then had even more raunchy, hot sex. (Guys, stop rolling your eyes - we women love our HEAs.)

The point of this diatribe? Just to point out that writers need to be realistic in their promises to readers. Don't write up the description of your story to snag someone with a taste for five-alarm chili only to serve up jello. Yeah the chili description might sell more books in the short term but if ya plan on ever writing another book and don't want to be on someone's "I'll never buy her/his stuff again" list - then don't make promises you can't/don't deliver. There's enough diversity in taste that your story will appeal (if well written). No one eats five-alarm chili everyday after all.


Gadfly said...

Lord knows I've never had fiction slide away from me ;-)

L.P. said...

that's because you have impeccable focus, Gaddy dearheart. ~purring~

whatchu mean that was sarcasm on your part?

ozymandiaz said...

point of order madam chairman;
what if the "writer" truely thought they HAD deliverd upon the promise of plot and witty dialog?
Not saying that is an excuse but often stupidity is used as one.
Hell, maybe they think they're writing for hollywood

Anonymous said...

You need to track down a copy of DARK FIRE by Elizabeth Lowell (Mira Books 1988), or I can send you my copy. It's what you say you are looking for, right up your 'alley' so to speak.

Triple alpha male, no crying, vulnerability yes, masked by stubborn determination, clashing competence, eventually melting into overwhelmingly hot passion, but no crying. (and the sex bits aren't dull by long shot ;) )

charleneteglia said...

Aha, found your blog. *g* I once read a romance that became a wallbanger when the hero was unable to rescue the heroine...and BURST INTO TEARS. I was like, what? You're the hero and you're going to sit there and cry? There's a time and a place for emotion and that ain't it. If you promise a bad-ass hero, don't have him sit there sobbing in his soup.

Lakota said...

LOL! Ozy, the stories I'm talking about are subgenre specific. You can't claim to write a BDSM story and then not deliver SOMETHING. It'll just piss off the readers looking for a certain flavor of erotica and not getting it. After i posted this i also started a story that i ended up just tossing. didn't finish reading it. It was marketed as a menage+ with the story revolving around new additions to the relationship. Turns out the new addition was a baby. Fuck that. I didn't buy it to read about the trials and tribulations of a woman dealing with a child and four lovers. The story is probably very good - i've enjoyed the other writings by the author tremendously - but the point was IT WASN'T WHAT I THOUGHT I WAS BUYING OR WHAT I WAS IN THE MOOD FOR! Sorry for the rant... i'm still pouty over that one.

Thanks for the referral Rob! I looked the author up and at first went into my anti-historical shudders (I don't do bodice-rippers ever) but then saw this is a contemporary setting novel. It looks quite yummy!

Lakota said...

Wahoo Charli!! ~big grins~
I've missed you girlfriend.
Like the new digs?
And yeah, agree with you 100%.
I think it's about character expectations in conjunction with anticipated plot. I've read some wonderful stories with sensative male characters - TA Chase does a brilliant job of that as does Lauren Dane. Hell, her Chase brothers series are the pinnacle of the strong but sensative alpha and beta males and she handles it beautifully so it makes sense in the story. You don't go "huh? where did that come from?"
Ya know? Iz early - i may be totally babbling here. O.o

Roscoe James said...

Checking my chili right now.