Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Where is the HEA?

I actually stopped reading a book this week. The disappointment was a tad overwhelming because this book started off AWESOME! Like, dance-in-the-kitchen-til-the-morning-light AWESOME. The hero was an agent...the heroine was his computer geek, couldn't-run-things-without-her, right-hand lady. Scene one, dinner party with an assassination threat. Heroine gets pulled into the field. She is going to accompany the hero as his date. The decision was a bit compulsive, but he needed someone and of course, she was there. She's trained physically... Anyhoo. VERY exciting. Hero gets attacked...shot in the chest actually...and the heroine (who didn't actually run that far away when he told her to) sees the attacker going in for the head shot. So what does she do? She kicks ass. In the scuffle, the shooter gets shot.

Scene two: At the hospital. Shooter is in surgery. Hero is in ER. He was wearing Kevlar (of course!) He hears a woman's voice. Low and behold, it's the traitorous B who almost killed him. Her son is the shooter...and guess what? It's the hero's son, too!!!! [wow, when I write it out like this, it sounds awfully cheesy] There is a confrontation in which psycho B threatens the hero (she's off the deep end, btw), but the heroine jumps in at this point and says, No. I shot your son.

There's stuff hitting fans everywhere...and the hero knows only one thing. He has to put the heroine into hiding.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! [end of round one]

We've got a sagging middle here. I swear, I was so excited about the opening of this book. Remember now, this is all research. Any books I read [usually], I tend to study. So, I asked myself, how did the author lose me? And this is what I figured this instance.

I always knew the heroine loved the hero. She'd maintained a professional distance, but her internal gave her away. This isn't necessarily a problem. Most women are more in tune with their emotions. It wasn't too far into the story, maybe a third of the way, when the hero internally admitted love for the heroine. When they 'got together' at about two-thirds of the way through the book... I couldn't get that excitement back.

They had their Happily Ever After!

Sure, there were still bad guys on the loose, but the hideaway was known only to the hero. Not even his best friend or family knew where they were. Also, the bunker had a room FILLED with computers, but the heroine [the computer EXPERT!] never even went in there. Didn't do anything during the time they were there to help find out who had hacked into the company's system. Why not?

I had to stop reading...the final straw was when the heroine went into the cave of this bunker/hideaway and...for the THIRD TIME!, mentioned the stalagmites--or was is stalactites? Seriously, she said that in her head THREE times. To me, the stinks of author intrusion. As if she didn't have the time or wherewithal to look it up...and so, made the heroine an idiot. Because, if you were curious about something, wouldn't you go to that computer room on the other side of the bunker and LOOK IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sheesh.

Stalagmites: rising from the floor.
Stalactites: hanging from the ceiling.


There was a point to this... Oh right. I have a tendency to do this. AVOID CONFLICT, especially in the relationships I conjure up. It's in direct relationship to reading books where I groan at the stupid reasons people have conflict, BUT I read just as many books with good conflict. So, I'm going to make sure my book doesn't resemble this one....
How about you? Do you get tired of the conflict in a romance? What do you do in your writing to avoid such conflict?


  1. I see this more times than not in romantic suspense (Single title)--the conflict between the h and H resolved somewhere in the middle and the rest of the book relying on the conflict between the villain and the h/H.
    That book still sounds good! I must know the title!!! :)

  2. I think that even everyday relationships aren't without conflict of some sort. SO it falls a bit short for me when it seems the conflict between them is non-existent or solved before you get to far into the story.

    And as you well know, I struggle greatly with my balance of conflict/romance and where to draw the line. Is there enough? Too much? Too little? Is it adding or taking away from the romance between them? So obviously I haven't figured out how to avoid such things... if you do let me know the secret will ya?

  3. Hmmm, I like conflict, little conflict, little makeup, on and on with the big conflict solved at the end.
    I wanna know the author of this book! :-)

  4. I can usually deal with it if it's well written and holds my interest. I recently read a follow up in a series and had a hard time dealing with the romance in full bloom while the conflict with a previous villain played out throughout the entire book. I like the author but the book was a hard read to finish.

  5. Hello, Bethanne. Thanks for visiting SlingWords. I've enjoyed cruising your blog and website.

    Conflict? Sheesh! This is the hardest element for most writers especially if you've lived a life with a lot of conflict. You don't want to sit down and inflict the same kind of torture on people you create. Yet, you must.

    I think we all like conflict when it's germane to the characters and the emotional baggage they cart around. And we all HATE it when it's stupid crap i.e. he said/she heard something entirely different, he overheard and misconstrued, etc, and when it could all be cleared up with an intelligent conversation.

    If you've got FINE conflict, then it better be a mountain in your characters' lives or readers will hate them. (That's FINE as in freaked-out, insecure, neurotic, and emotional.)

    Just my two cents.

  6. Conflect is important to the book. Think of it this way without comflict there is no plot, and no story.

    Some sort of conflict needs to go all the way to the ending, and then HEA or HFN.



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