Pet Peeves Perhaps: Authors and Readers Top Ten by Jules Dixon
Writing romance comes with inherent risks. You’re not going to please every reader and almost every reader has something or many things that they dislike in romance stories.
So I took a poll (unscientific and mostly for $hits and giggles—which I had a lot of them) of some of my author and reader friends and asked them “What pet peeves do you have in romance stories?” If they needed clarification I offered some general ones to get them rolling and roll with it they did. Wow, never knew some of the things they’d think up.
This is a list of the top ten by mention.
- 1. Body parts described like foods. Eyes like milk chocolate. Skin like sweet cream. Tongue like bubble gum. And ew on that last one. I know John Mayer got away with it in his song, but when reading it all I can see is a tongue blowing up to a baseball-size bubble and POP!
- Describing a penis as any of the following: love stick, hot and throbbing (I think hot by itself is good to go, but add the throbbing and apparently not good), hard like granite (I guess that might hurt a woman in the end or elsewhere), some were even opposed to penis and erection—too clinical? So, when describing what’s good? Most agreed that hard cock was acceptable and had a sexy vibe. They said “dick” was a close second, but kind of gave a vibe of the guy being a jerk attached to said body part.
- And ladies… if we’re going to give the guys a go at the “oh, hell no”…it’s only fair we explore the female anatomy. So…flower, secret garden, softness (which again I’ve used and went—huh?), slippery love canal (gag), and moist desire. Which brings me to…
- That word…I almost can’t type it… moist. Yes, that one. I know it’s been said before, but this word holds great dislike for me. I think it’s the way people’s mouths shape when they say it, but even reading it I get the heebie-jeebies. So…the “M-Word” is out.
- Flesh or fleshy—apparently this word is a no-go for some. I’ve used it before and had no idea. I think “fleshy drop of her earlobe” is kind of sexy, but again, goes to show you how preferences can be wide ranging.
- And then we come (pun intended) to those terms about orgasms. Now, let’s get something clear. Come is the verb, action, and feeling. Cum is the stuff that comes of the coming. Does that clear things up a little? But no matter what, apparently, there are things readers and authors are opposed to when the act actually happens. One said they don’t like it be “earth moving or volcanic”. I can see this. I mean, love mine, but I’ve never felt like Vesuvius is happening. And for a guy, one author said she asked her hubby and read him some lines she was working with, he says he thinks it’s different for every guy (which other websites back up– Male-Orgasm-Feels-Like or Men-About-Coming-Inside-Woman ) but in general, the moment is short and intense, not some drawn out movie montage of their time together, but more like a Polaroid picture. And in that last link, this line made me giggle: “Feels like victory.” How cute is that? And a little weird. Men. And I would agree with my friends, having the BIG MOMENT happen together is a little unrealistic, but this is fiction, people. (Seriously the research for this post…so great.)
- Insta-love. Yep, there is definitely a subset of readers who HATE this trope. I’m not saying never write it—I write a lot of very quick happening love in short stories, but usually, the people knew each other for a while before. But apparently, this can be polarizing, just FYI.
- Something I’ve approached here on Naughty Quills before—alpha holes. More than a few of them said it’s something they cannot wrap their brains around. Why would any woman put up with that bull$hit? If we wouldn’t allow it in real life, why do we want to read about women being treated like that? Respect yourself and respect your reader. Alpha-holes-by-Jules-Dixon
- Describing the sounds of making love with some words. Slurping…no. Sloppy…no. Wheezing. <–not sure what author used that, but please God, no. Sloshing…no. Lots of “S” words came from my friends, I guess a good rule is to avoid those or use them abundantly and make a statement.
- Taboos came up quite frequently, too. Incest. Rape. Sex acts that cross a line that most of society finds icky (for lack of a better word). To each his own and I won’t gross you out with the details, but let’s just say one was in the news lately. Basically, they reiterated what most publishers say that they won’t accept as well. There are reasons publishers have those rules, too.
But when all is said and done, knowing what people don’t like doesn’t always mean authors should stay away from those words, phrases, and topics. It is your story, write as you wish, just be prepared to face the music when the readers start singing a different tune.
That research was entertaining.
I’m sure my friends missed some that you can think of. Any others to add?
Have a great Monday and week!