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"Chloe Harris" really is the pseudonym for two writers, Noelle and Barbra, who've joined forces to write intriguing and sexy stories. A quintessential eccentric southerner, Noelle seems to find a story in almost everything. Ever ambitious to change her stars, she has a degree in Communications. Barbra lives together with her cat ('Princess Mimi'), who isn't very happy that she is spending so much time on writing. But this folly of the living can opener with opposable thumbs is mostly tolerated.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

The Latest Trend? How I try to cope with it and fail every time.

So, I’ve been reading those books lately that started me thinking. Not because they’re heavy-thinker material and because I’m the philosopher.

The book I started yesterday also belongs in that category, the ‘giving me a killer headache because of too much thinking’ category. I haven’t gotten far, I’m only half way through, because I keep falling asleep. Of course, that could have two reasons: 1) I’m bored, or 2) it’s tremendously hard to read through it (that’s why I keep falling asleep during the first acts of any Shakespeare play, but I get used to it then and devour the rest greedily).

I don’t think it’s boring--not much anyway. It’s a little too repetitive, like you sing “row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, etc.” just for yourself with nobody else. A theme is introduced, presented in all its facets and then it’s solved--or you just think it is, because, row-row-row-your-boat, it starts all over again.

Perhaps, you will now say, there are new facets to the story. Uhm, sorry to disappoint you, but no, nothing new, just new words to describe what you’ve already read on the last three pages. And after you’re done with that, it starts again--the last time this time (because apparently the word count for one chapter is full and off we go to the next chapter).

That book I’m reading is okay. It provides enough tremendously-sexy-masculine-hunks (in short TSMH) and the heroine is very well done. Three dimensional. God knows I’ve read too many books lately with two dimensional heroines at best. The language is great, wonderful, with original metaphors. Just the way I like it. Colourful. Giving you an idea of what the characters feel/see/taste/smell/hear--in a word what they experience without slowing the pacing down.

Unfortunately, there are passages where the author felt the need to use ‘shit’ twelve times and ‘f*ck’ five times. I counted--it was easy, because the offending words are italicised. Now, I understand that if you’re in deep POV you want to make your character as ‘real’ as possible. Still, I have a problem with the abundance of offending words.

Why? I can’t imagine that all the people all over the world use such bad language as much. Personally, it takes a lot to provoke a ‘shit’ out of me. A lot like: the washing machine flooding the flat and the boiler being on strike and the cat puking on my favourite blanket and my husband being away and therefore unable to take care of the washing machine and/or the boiler. When that all happens (and it did a few weeks ago), I do feel the need to grumble such a word, but even if I fall into a rage (which, sadly, happens from time to time), I do not stick to this one word exclusively. I like variety, so instead of saying ‘shit’ twelve times in as many minutes, I cuss like a sailor, mingling my ‘shit’ with ‘damn’, ‘bollocks’ and ‘bugger’, but I never ever use the f-word. A lady, I’ve been told (by the nice landlady who had been born and raised in India before she returned to England to let a room in her flat to me from time to time), is not supposed to use such bad language--except for cases where the washing machine, the boiler, the cat and the husband do not co-operate properly, of course.

So why do authors nowadays feel the need to use so many offensive words? Do they want to make a man’s speech more colourful--closer to real life? I wonder.

Sometimes I can’t help but understand why Jane Austen only showed her stories from the perspective of the female characters. Then again, I’d love to know what the male equivalent to ‘oh-dear’ was back then.

Is it really that bad? Do men really talk like that? Or is it just a certain fraction of society that does? And if so, isn’t it a little bit unfair to paint all men in that awful light?

Personally, I don’t know men who talk like that. I have no doubt that there are some who do, only they belong to a different social class I do not have contact with.

Of course, there’s the ‘cool factor’ also. I see it every day. My students (when I teach adolescents also, not exclusively adults, mind you) suffer a lot from the C-factor. It’s peer pressure, and you’re only really ‘cool’ if you use offensive language. They’re especially fascinated by the f-word. I wonder why. Because it’s so versatile? Probably.

It’s no secret that male characters in romances do not talk like real men, but like how women would want men to talk. It’s the Venus vs. Mars conflict, and since romances are written by female authors mostly, male characters tend to be romanticised.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt to observe how people truly speak. Ask a man what he’s thinking when he first ogles a woman. They don’t notice the colour of her eyes or how wonderfully smooth her skin is. Fancy that! They actually notice the shape of a woman’s mouth and wonder if she’d give a good blow job. They also notice a woman’s hips and wonder what it would look like when… ah, I’m sure you get the idea.

It’s really nice to read all those chaste thoughts that women think men have or that women like to think men have. Personally, I think it’s hilarious to read about what men truly think when meeting a woman, not what women want men to think then. But I’m probably one in a million, so I keep my mouth shut and patiently read passages such as “He stopped dead when he saw her for the first time. His heart missed a beat. Her eyes were azure, like the sky. Like his.”

Yeah, yeah.

Anyway. I have discovered another alarming trend in the romances I read. If you want to pitch your sales, you just kill off a character. Your fans will love it, call it a ‘daring’ move, even original. (?)

I wonder. Why do you spend time developing a character, have him or her starring three or more books in a series and then you kill him/her in cold blood?

When I develop a character, I really like him or her. They’re talking to me and I love to listen, even take down notes as they take form in my mind and become alive. I could never do that to one of my characters. The others would cease talking to me at once and I’d find myself wrapped up in a writer’s block.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have characters who will get killed. I do have them and they’ll cease to exist in the book they’re introduced in. The character and I, we both know that from the start. It’s consensual. Any char that survives two of my books is going to live ‘forever’.

Still, I find the trend alarming. Still, I don’t like the trend at all.

If we’re all so desperate to find ‘original’ twists and kill our chars off, then this oh so brilliant idea won’t be original for long.

Another highly vexing trend is to have badass (pardon my French) characters weep, crying like babies under emotional stress. It simply makes me gag. I don’t like cissies--surprise, surprise!

The PR and RS I’ve read lately ‘romanticise’ men to such an extent. It’s degrading. Demeaning. Do some women authors hate men that much that they feel the need to castrate them?

Uhm, perhaps I should make myself clearer now. The ‘emotional stress’ in which these characters started to weep were a) her giving head and b) her telling him she was pregnant.

Now, what man actually starts crying like a baby just because a woman is sucking him off? Or, to be more precise, what supernatural-badass-shitkicker-wearing-swearing-and-cursing- warrior dude who enjoys sex as a means to take a break from his daily killing the bad guys duties starts crying like a baby when his heroine is performing that sexual act on him?

I could understand such mean, bad guys starting to cry when their heroines tell them she’s pregnant--because that means that they’re going to procreate in a world that is basically full of scum they’re fighting each day and night. But it’s always made crystal clear that they weep upon that news because they’re so happy!

Sometimes the world of romance doesn’t make sense to me anymore. Perhaps that’s why I prefer to read erotic romances these days. You have TSMH there that never ever weep under such ‘emotional stress’. Plus, they use contraception. Thank god--at least there the world is still moving around the sun and not a flat disk.

To me all those latest trends are plain stupid, but who am I to complain? Just a PRO author with the prospect of never getting published, because I love ideas that are ‘not original’, you see.

Also, I tend to over-write. Pah! I don’t know where people get that idea from, really.

But I’m a realist with only slightly foolish illusions now and then: When I write something I like, I know that others won’t. Still I like it.

Funny, huh?



Noelle said...

I Totally agree!
Although Hubby does curse like that but then I can count on one hand the times I've seen him cry and damn it it's never been because he was awe struck by my skill. Oh well it's a goal I can work toward.;)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I know there are times when hubby uses some very bad language I don't even understand (because it's in his native dialect), but that happens when he's for example fixing the washing machine and the boiler and it doesn't work at all and that all happens about once every other year. He doesn't always talk like that--that's what I find so disturbing about the book. They always talk like that.
I've seen him cry once when he got the news of his father's death and once when 'the bad thing' happened. You know what I mean.
As for your goal... ;-) Good luck! Well, I guess we can always try to improve... *giggles*