I am so fortunate. Today I said on Twitter and Facebook, “Do you have a burning question for an editor? I need a blog topic.” I got a tremendous response of some really great, amazing questions. Not all of them about editing, either! So I’m going to be using my blog, and the Carina Press blog, to answer the “ask the editor” questions in the coming weeks. If you’re not on Twitter (or Facebook), and you have a question, feel free to leave it in the comments!
Today, @romancinkatrina asked: Three things that make you hurl a book across the room faster than seeing a spider on the wall.
This seems like it should be such an easy question, right? But I really had to think about it, because I couldn’t immediately think of the huge hot button issues that I always know won’t work for me. But I did finally come up with a few things I came up with that are issues for me in reading:
1) Rape: no, not the use of rape in a book in general, but when the main character (usually the heroine but sometimes it’s a hero) is shown as having been raped recently, especially within the book’s timeframe, but seems to suffer no emotional or psychological trauma, and just merrily goes on their way. Rape is a horrible act, and using it as a plot device or a character device, simply to add conflict to the book, and then disregarding all the consequences of that conflict makes me insane, and it strikes me as disrespectful of all the people who’ve suffered this. Don’t show the heroine (or hero) as jumping into bed with their romantic lead soon after the event, don’t ignore that the tragedy of having this happen has the potential to change how they act and react, and who they are. Don’t make it just a convenience. Don’t just use it because you want something horrible to happen to your characters to show you’re not afraid to torture them. (for the record, I remain impressed with how Patricia Briggs handles this in the Mercy Thompson series)
2) Big Misunderstandings: I’m not a fan of this plot device, so it can pretty often make me want to kick someone’s characters in the head. The problem, for me, with the Big Mis, is that it’s just so often the result of two people who are too stubborn and stupid to just say “Why did you do this” and instead play these passive-aggressive games that keep them apart. Passive-aggression doesn’t make ANYONE likeable, and when the only conflict keeping two people apart is stubborness and stupidity, I figure they don’t deserve to be happy anyway!
3) Unclean sex: Oh, just ew here. I apologize to anyone who’s easily embarrassed, but this one’s going to be a little more graphic (Dad, stop reading). There’s a few things in erotic romances that bother me in regards to “unclean” sex. I’m no prude but I draw the line at books that portray the hero going from the back hole to the front with no sanitary clean up in between. Do you have any IDEA of the kind of bacteria and illness that can introduce to women’s bodies? Say it with me, “ewwwww!” Also, if you’re going to show your hero/heroine in a masturbation scene, and something happens immediately after where they have to go answer the phone/door, etc., can they PLEASE wash their hands somehow. Because again…ew. That makes me want to run for the hand sanitizer and bathe in it.
Bonus: I’m not entirely sure “hint of tuna” while kissing would make me stop reading, but if a book becomes too gross as far as bodily functions and “reality”, I will toss the book. I’d like some mystery in the relationship, please.
I also won’t continue a book if I can’t connect with the characters or if I don’t understand their motivation. Sure, I might not agree with their motivation, but I need to know why they’re doing something. Unlikeable characters I don’t understand can be a deal breaker for me in a book I’m reading.
Okay, you got mine. Your turn. What will make you throw a book (or wish you could throw it if you’re reading digitally) faster than seeing a spider on the wall across the room?