Saturday, February 28, 2009

So Wrong...

Every now and then I like reading one of those thin, naughty, category romances. Partly, it's to analyze what works and doesn't work craft-wise... though that's sort of an excuse since I can't read anything without paying that sort of attention. This time I grabbed two... both paranormal... it seems like that's all of them these days. The fad will pass, I'm sure.

One had a fortune teller who could see futures. I actually liked that one fairly well. The fortune teller aspect wasn't spooky, just matter-of-fact, and it worked for me.

The other was a time-travel romance.

This is a sub-genre of paranormal that involves one party traveling forward or backward in time and meeting his or her true love. They can be fun. And this one was fun... but it was also so very wrong.

The whole time I was reading it my back-brain was hollering at me that any sane modern person, sent back in time, would conclude that she was insane. One way or the other. I kept thinking that a sane person would not even *try* to return home... she would assume that she was either a person from the future having a hallucination, or a person from the present she finds herself in, but with false memories. The sane thing to do would be to treat the here-and-now as real and make decisions assuming the here-and-now was real... and either way then, no harm done... If she wakes up back in 2009, super. And if she doesn't wake up back in the future, then at least she's been dealing with her present.

It was very distracting.

I've read other time-travel romances that weren't so distracting and I think it was because there was more of a reason for the person to travel. It can be a magical reason... just so long as it makes sense that it exists. One of the ones I've read has a goddess or witch or some such that looks through time and finds the two people and then brings one person through time. Another (which accounts for about all of them I've read) has someone in the past summon a hero and making a mistake over the name. This one had a book and a dress that had absolutely no relevance to the past that was explained and a necklace that was never mentioned again and... sigh... it was just so wrong.


Blogger Big Mike said...

I read one of those time travel romances -- not usually my thing so I suspect I was a bit hard up for reading at the time. The female is a plain Jane Ph.D. historian -- and Chair of her department at some large midwestern university -- who suffers an aneurism while visiting an old church in London and wakes up as a young woman (she characterizes her new body as a Barbie doll) just a few months before Waterloo. She meets the man she is supposed to wed in a marriage of convenience and falls hard for him, and then he comes to value her. She tells him to ignore the early pessimistic reports from Belgium and the news that Wellington has retreated from Quarte Bras, and to invest every shilling he has in Consols. Since he has then become very rich, she thinks he will leave her for his true love, not realizing that she is his true love (gets icky) and tries to return to the 20th century but he finds her in time (of course!) and they will live happily ever after. (At least as happily as any woman can be when she knows what's coming and realizes that doctors of the time have never heard of sterilization and antisepsis.)

What bothered me most was the author made her character a Ph.D. historian and yet the poor woman knows next to nothing about the status of women in 18th and 19th century England. Excuse me??? Does the author think people get a Ph.D. from sending in box tops or something?

I hate it when an author characterizes has his or her protagonist as being very, very smart and then that protagonist goes off to do something that is very not bright. Or gives the character some super credential like Olympic champion in trap shooting and then the character forget elementary shooting techniques like checking whether a round is chambered.

I'm looking forward to reading whatever it is you are writing. Your samples below -- assuming that they are samples of your writing -- are a little overwritten for my taste, but pretty promising. Be sure to let us readers know when you've published your work and how to go buy it.

BTW, my own prose tends to be overwritten for me taste. I also try to be the kind of manager I'd like to work for, and that's even harder than writing stuff I'd like to read.

Also BTW, I got here from a link on Trooper York's site, and I got there from Ann Althouse. Which is where I first met you, I guess. Web 2.0.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Synova said...

Thanks for the visit and the comments.

I hear you on the uber-smart character thing. Authors don't really have an excuse, because although we might not be as smart as the person in our story, we've got all the info! And time to consider all the angles, too.

Which brings to mind a somewhat related peeve... I read a book once where the people traveled across some wasteland for a week or so and never bothered to consider solutions to their "problem". So when they arrived at their destination, suddenly they're scrambling to get their thoughts in order.

Some people I know call this a "book, wall" moment.

The over-writing thing is harder (if I understand what you mean by that) because it's so hard to judge tone up close. the writing samples down the page are my own and they are just a wee bit more... fraught... than most of what I write. If that's good or bad I can't really tell. I've been trying to aim just a little more "over the top" to try to correct what I viewed as flat writing. But I *also* believe I tend to try to shove too much info/action in too quickly.

I try to use comparisons with my favorite authors to help me judge.

But hey, if it were easy, anyone could do it, right? ;-)

11:41 PM  
Blogger Big Mike said...

Robert Howard, the original author of the "Conan" books (a factoid which you probably already knew) was quoted as saying that he always made his heroes a little dumb because if they were smart they wouldn't get into the fixes that they get into. :-)

3:25 PM  
Blogger Trooper York said...

You have to fit your words to the style you are writing in of course. Romance requires more flowery descriptions and over the top dialouge. Detective fiction is Hemmingwayesk with spare sparse wording and short sentances.

I enjoy all of your posts. They are very well written.

8:52 PM  

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