Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing and the ‘Steamy Romance Factor’: Part 2 and a small Plea for Minor Characters

I am always looking for a good story. I want to talk about Austen sequels, although what I am talking about can be applied to other book genres. This post is a continuation of my original post: Writing and the ‘Steamy Romance Factor’. I love Jane Austen and I enjoy reading sequels to her books. Although, some may call it fan fiction. Like many, I read an Austen sequel because I fell in love with the characters Austen created and I want to see what happened to them. As of late I find myself dissatisfied with the sequel offerings.

First, most sequels are focused on Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. I adore Darcy and Elizabeth. Pride and Prejudice was the first Jane Austen novel that I read, but can authors not look at other Austen characters? I’m burnt out on Darcy and Elizabeth stories. Give me something else. I want to see more Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland, Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferras and Knightly and Emma. In fact, I would LOVE to see more minor characters approached to tell their stories.

Is Miss Bates so lonely that she jumps at any chance to have social interaction? What is her story?

Why is Caroline Bingley so vicious and intent on climbing the social ladder?

What happens to Isabella Thorpe after she ruins herself?

What about Charles Bingley and Jane? Their marriage could not have been perfect.

What about the other Bennet sisters, Kitty and Mary?

What is Willoughby’s marriage like to the rich socialite he was forced to marry or be destitute?

Of all of Austen’s creations Darcy and Elizabeth are perhaps the most beloved, but it seems there is nothing new for them. Sequel offerings pertaining to Darcy and Elizabeth have become dissatisfying. It is possible to have too much of a good thing. What else is left for Darcy and Elizabeth now, but something of the sci-fi variety perhaps? If an author takes up this torch, please just NO page after page sex.

Secondly, many, not all, Darcy and Elizabeth sequels seem to be page after page of sex. I find myself extremely careful when picking up an Austen sequel now for fear there is no plot and just sex. I enjoy an occasional bodice ripper, what woman doesn’t, but these authors seem to be under the impression, it seems, that by portraying these characters having sex all of the time that they are showing the romance and passion that exists between them. WHERE IS THE PLOT? The sad part is that some of these sequels have GREAT plots, but they are hiding under pages and pages of mindless and unnecessary sex. The main question I pose is why does romantic, passionate love have to be portrayed through pages and pages of sex? Is that the best way to express love? I think some of the most romantic love stories ever written did not need sex to be steamy and romantic. It was the tension and the words used to express the emotion that made it a memorable experience. Jane Austen’s work comes to mind or Jane Eyre to name a few.

I have read Austen sequels which have had minor sex scenes, but they supported the plot. I wasn’t bothered by those sequels as the author had justified a reason why that was necessary. It drove the plot. They focused on telling a good story. I can appreciate and accept a sex scene if it has a reason to be there.

There are plenty of stories to be told. It comes down to the fact that when I pick up a book I want to read a good story; A story where the characters have realistic problems and yet continue to grow and mature as individuals and in their relationships. I want to feel like I have been given the rare opportunity to hear their story and maybe learn something along the way. I don’t want to feel like I just spent days in a tawdry bar or brothel which is what I sometimes feel like after reading a story where the characters spend more time going at it like rabbits than doing anything else.

Sex is great; yes I am sure couples do it all the time, but that cannot be all there is to their story. I want the real story and please, I beg you, don’t take us into their bedroom so often that we become a spectator at a sporting event. Give us a story, an honest to good story and I guarantee you would win more hearts.

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