Romance Writing Pet Peeves

by Patience Bloom (from her blog)

Please bear in mind that this is just one editor’s pet peeves, compiled over many years of reading. And I’ll include some good with the peeve: I love reunion romances. We’ve all had a romance that we’ve fantasized about revisiting. In Romanceland, you can! I also love cranky Alpha heroes, heroines with a touch of crazy, characters facing natural disasters and the one-night stand that winds up being happily ever after.

Because there’s balance in the cosmos, here are a few of my pet peeves:

*On page 1, someone is driving. Sometimes driving to a destination in the opening is necessary and it’s not enough for me to reject a story but grrrrr, I see it so often, especially in suspenseful romances.

*After a passionate night, the heroine wakes up to the hero cooking breakfast. He can make an omelet. I can’t even make an omelet. You’d think this might be a unique post-night-of-passion scene, but it’s not. The hero often makes soft, fluffy eggs for breakfast, which signifies his soft, fluffy underbelly. Along with this, the character waking up to the smell of bacon or strong coffee. I wish I kept eggs and bacon in my fridge but sadly, I just have condiments.

*When they’re lost in the woods, there’s always an abandoned cabin. And in that cabin, there’s a dusty pantry. Somehow, the heroine finds enough there to prepare a five-course meal. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if all they had was a can of tuna to share?  Maybe not so romantic but potentially funny and real.

*Characters become amateur sleuths. A cop will go to a murder scene and someone close to the victim will insist on helping with the case. They fall in love as they both search for clues. This aggravates me, though I see it all the time and it can be explained away. Plus, if someone close to me were involved in such misfortune, I’d like to think I’d be a giant pain in the posterior and insist on helping. It’s still a pet peeve. I do like, though, when non-law-enforcement characters find themselves in the middle of a suspenseful situation.

*The ex is a passionless dweeb or a gold digger. My problem with this is…well, we’ve all made mistakes, but the ex must have had some good qualities or else why would the hero/heroine get involved?

*Exes/parents/grandparents are killed in car crashes. It’s easy to kill off characters this way, but car crashes are a given now in romances. Maybe these extraneous characters could exist without appearing on the scene. Car crashes create emotional conflict by making a central character an instant orphan. It happens, it’s real and awful but if I had a penny for all the car crashes I’ve seen…They have no impact on me anymore.

And those are my pet peeves for this Friday. No need to delete any scenes–just be mindful of the ways you can make your story stand out. 🙂

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Comments

  1. Deirdre

    I agree with all of these pet peeves! It’s amazing how many people are killed in car crashes. . . maybe it’s all those romance heroines thinking about their lives on page one and not paying attention to the road 🙂 Thanks for this list!

  2. Chrissie

    Guilty of the first and the last, but a long time ago. I think the parents killed in a car crash is most common and writers use it when they need an excuse why the parents aren’t around. Close-knit families always interact with their parents, but we all can and should think of something more original. Cancer? Bingo. #11 killer. Car crashes are the most common though. Lol. Sorry, Patience!