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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Conflict in Need of a Good Romance

Okay, I'll be the first to admit I have a hard time with contemporaries. Nothing against all the wonderful romance writers who specialize in this genre...it's just I tend to find the conflict in modern romance to be somewhat lacking. Perhaps because I have had too much real drama in my life, I see the problems associated with straight contemporaries to be not very problematic at all. A perfectly good contemporary might revolve around rival restaurant owners and a stolen recipe. Shrug. Can't they just share? Or maybe she's an antique collector and he owns an antique she really wants and won't sell it for love or money. Yawn. Go buy something else why don't ya? And then there's the whole sex thing. A writer (who shall remain nameless) for a category line has the heroine jumping into bed with the hero in the first fifty pages. They spend the next couple hundred pages trying to figure out what it all means, and if it means anything and if it does, does it mean more to me than it did for you, and OMG you are getting too close and I have such a fear of intimacy and blah blah blah. I don't fault the writing or the character development (shoot, I should write as well as this chick) it's just the central idea and premise of most contemporaries leave me cold. And then the whole lack of sexual tension, the whole will they, won't they, and what are the consequences if they do, is missing in alot of contemporaries for the simple reason, it just doesn't much matter anymore if the characters jump into bed on the first date. So conflicts regarding sex tend to strictly of the internal kind. I end up feeling a good session on the couch with the shrink would solve most of their problems.

I guess the reason many readers enjoy contemporary romance is that it reflects their own lives, or maybe slightly idealized versions of their lives. Problems are real and relatable. And its sexy and wonderful to think a real romance can happen amid the ordinariness of most lives. That's great, but it's not for me.

Here's what I want and I wonder if there is a writer who can manage it or dares to "go there." I want real world problems but ripped from the head line kind of problems. There's lots of people in the world who have to live with very dramatic external conflict which keeps them from true love. And by "dramatic external conflict" I don't mean that her business associate won't like her much for dating the hero, or her revenue from her inn keeping will decline by ten percent if the hero's inn attracts more customers.

This is what I mean by dramatic external conflict. Ayann Hirsi Ali. Need I say more. Yes, I know she's too "real" but wow, if you could imagine how a woman like that could find love in this world, the story would practically write itself wouldn't it? She's been mutilated, a price put on her head, and is not well liked by many left wing intellectuals for her unwavering criticism of Islam. Her whole life is a conflict. Is there a man for a character like that? Does he exist and how would you write him? It helps that she is beautiful.

I see characters similar to Ali in historicals or even paranormals. Tortured by what has happened to them both externally and internally, characters who live in a world that is conflicted and yet, they find love anyway. And manage to make a happy life for themselves. Why is we can write about werewolves gang raping women, but not real Muslim women undergoing genital mutilation?

Is it wrong to think about Ali and women like her in this way? Is her conflict something most writers would rather not confront because it is too real? Can no one can imagine a happy ending for women who have undergone and continue to undergo what Ali has been through?

Discuss....Tell me what you think.

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