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- Teresa Reveals the CONFESSIONS OF A TRUE ROMANTIC
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- Teresa Says It Loud and Says It Proud: I WRITE ROMANCE NOVELS!!!
- CHRISTINA DODD SAYS “IT’S CHRISTMAS! DUCK!”
- Teresa Needs Your Help to Choose the SEXIEST MAN DEAD!
Last week, I put up a poll asking what you thought was wrong with romance novels. I knew this was a subject near and dear to our hearts, but I had no idea there would be over 1100 votes on the poll http://www.squawkradio.com/index.php/sblog/christina_dodd_asks_you_to_fill_in_the_poll and 121 comments on the blog. http://www.squawkradio.com/index.php/sblog/christina_dodd_asks_what_is_wrong_with_romance_novels_today I’m pretty sure all of us Squawkers read every comment, and we sent the results of the poll to our editors. What you said was without malice and so thoughtful and insightful, and the poll itself revealed so much, I’ve decided to try and interpret the votes and reply to a few of the comments. Please don’t yell at me, I can’t help it — I’m a numbers junkie and fascinated by anything I think will help me understand what makes romance work as the most popular genre in publishing.
So — the main thing that interested me in the poll was that opinions were so evenly distributed. NOTHING was a huge stand-out, and some of the virtual ties made me giggle —
Tied with 3% of the vote:
Heroine is a virgin (23)
Heroine is too experienced sexually (24)
I think we can safely say that some readers really care and some people really don’t, but most readers are willing to read either kind of heroine.
Another one that had me going was the wimpy hero vs. the alpha hero. At about 500 votes, that was tied, too, but around 800 votes, wimpy pulled away to win 35 to 19. So okay, alpha heroes may irritate, but not nearly as much as wimps.
The cover art one surprised me a lot (From the poll: cover art doesn’t portray novel correctly). I flung that one in at the last moment because I thought we needed something involving a concrete item rather than everything being conceptual, and the fact it was one of the top three things readers voted on amazed me.
Also, in the comments under the poll, Rene said...”One of the things that drive me nuts about a book is reading the back cover and getting an idea in my head how the book is going to be and then WHAM! Totally different book - hasn’t happened too often but often enough to tick me off!” Good point, Rene, and one I forgot to include that I’ll bet would have gotten a lot of votes!
Heymommy said, “One thing that was not included in the poll that really does make me throw the book against the wall is lack of editing/bad editing/no editing. What happened to proofreading? Big name publishers that used to produce quality work are now releasing books with typos, misspelled words, wrong gender pronouns, etc. and I can’t fully express just how distracting it is to me. One main reason I read as often as I do is to escape from my everyday life into the story. When I have to stop and mentally correct something in the book and think “oh, that should be ‘her’ not ‘him’ then I am no longer immersed in the story and I strongly resent that. When I purchase a new book, I feel I am paying not only for the author’s created story but also the printing, the cover art, the editing, proofreading, paper quality, ink, etc.” Okay, heymommy, that was another one I forgot, and I suspect it would have been a big vote-getter.
Lisa R spoke to one of my great fears as a writer when she said...”I hate rushed endings. There are some books I’ve read where it seems obvious the writer was hurried because of a deadline. The last couple of chapters didn’t have the same flavor as the rest of the book and everything was wrapped up too quickly and neatly.” She got some high-fives for that one!
Overall, as I looked at the preponderance of votes and tried to tie them together in some coherent direction, it seems the Big Complaint was that the books aren’t romantic enough. IrishEyes said...”What I don’t like in my romances and what I’m finding more and more is that the relationship is relegated to second place among all the intrigue and world building! I’d like for the relationship to be first. … If I want reality I’ll watch the nightly news.”
Look at the poll results:
Not enough romance — I don’t feel the couple fall in love (87) 8%
Not enough sexual tension — couple falls too quickly into bed (104) 9%
Not enough time spent getting to know hero and heroine as fully rounded characters (114) 10%
Issues faced by the hero and heroine aren’t big enough to make me care whether they overcome them (50) 5%
No sense that this hero and this heroine are destined for and can only love each other (60) 5%
Sex scenes have no emotion, just a recitation of physical acts (74) 7%
“>We certainly had some other triggers points — the cover art, the series question, and the lack of variety in setting and genre. But I can’t do anything about the cover art, or the lack of variety in setting or genre, and I like writing books in a series (although Teresa has completely different ideas there.) But story I can control, so as I finished my copy edit for TOUCH OF DARKNESS, I focused on the relationship between the hero and heroine, on upping the sexual tension and that sense that the hero and heroine were meant for each other. I made sure the sex was both hot and meaningful, and added details that would bring their characters into sharper focus.
Did I improve the editing? Oh, God, I hope so.
Do you think I interpreted the poll correctly? Do you see another trend in the results? I’m listening to anything you say, so speak now because I’ve writing a new romantic suspense and I need all the input I can get!
Then check back this afternoon when I unveil the bookshelves and storage in my office. Be prepared to drool …
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