I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how demanding we readers are.
Most of you know how much I like to take the piss (translation: take the mickey, make fun of, etc) out of themes and tropes in fiction, in particular in romantic fiction.
I’ve also done a number of posts about issues I think should be dealt with more appropriately or at the very least just ‘more’ in romance; for example, mental illness.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes reckon there’s a perception that just because the romance genre is the so-called poor relation of ‘literature’ it makes it fiction-lite. That is, light and fluffy without all the calories.
Why shouldn’t romance also explore complex topics like mental or physical illness meaningfully? It’s not like the characters can’t still get an HEA or HFN. It’s FICTION, for Chrissake!
At the height of my righteous anger, the switch flips – hey, I am Libran 😉 – and I suddenly begin to wonder what would it be like to bear the brunt of all this angst when all you really want to do is make shit up.
My conclusion = Fuck that being an author lark!
I think readers – myself included – are painfully demanding, especially with regard to the romance genre.
We want a story to be real enough that we can relate to. Yet, we want to be entertained or lose ourselves in the romantic fantasy of it all.
Sounds too much like a bloody hard balancing act to me.
Does this mean I will stop getting my grump on?? As if!
This is just a rare acknowledgement in my vast sea of (irrever)vent that authors aren’t so bad after all. 😛
So, do you think readers are meanheads?
Be sure you check out Kassa’s place tomorrow for the start of a readers blog crawl of epic proportions. It will be author fanfundom for all!
Erm, no linkity-link yet, but thanks heaps for the button, EH!
There are romance books that discuss heavy topics, while there are others that are light as air. I think both types are needed.
I so do love your LOL cat pictures.
That cat looks … annoyed to say the least.
Great linky for the blog crawl. I so want to call it a pub crawl. LOL Probably would be way more fun, or at least I'd remember it that way after about pub #5.
Most of the time I'm not very demanding I don't think. I can tolerate a lot when I read. Of course some things will make me crazy but sometimes it's how it's presented because the next book with the same thing doesn't bother me at all. Go figure.
I'm a high maintenance reader. I think romance genre or any genre really, should be held to the same high standards.
Ooo I'm up Monday for the author crawl – was thinking of writing a love letter to Stephanie Myers for giving us sparkly vamps. Kidding…kinda, sorta.
I'm a pretty easy going reader. A lot has to be wrong with a story for me to abandon it. I may skim through parts of a story that's boring me (just did a lot of that with a book I read) and then find that a similar book appeals to me.
I like a blend of heavy and fluffy books – it all depends on my whim, er, mood. 🙂
Demanding. Hmm. Well, we did just bully Stephani into the storyline for the next paramedic book…
Readers are not meanheads. They are just (mostly) human.
I'm a meanhead for sure. Perhaps that can be my resolution not to be? I think all types of books are valid and it depends what you want.
I do think romance tends to be considered “fiction lite” and thus when something is really well written and stands up against any other category, it should be lauded.
“something is really well written and stands up against any other category”
Too often though Kassa in romance I find this means heavy themes with deep meaning and profound insight into the human condtion. Oh sorry, nodded off there. Sometimes I want screwball mayhem or just a good old who-done-it even if I know from page 12 who it was. Or maybe that's my perception, but I've never been a fan of “literature” (said with a snotty tone) because I read to be entertained. I also don't like most dramatic movies. I'd rather watch something blow-up and Bruce Willis run in his undershirt than watch someone angst over their life and love and how tragic everything is. But Bruce will never be up for an academy award. Or maybe I just have very low-brow taste. That is quite definitely a possibility.
lol low brow taste or not, it's all about what you want to read. There's nothing wrong with a book or movie that lets you escape into a fantasy for a while. If it does that and you're totally absorbed in the story, that takes skill.
Whether it's deeply intellectual, tough subjects, screw ball comedy, or just plain raunchy fun – well written stories stand out. Mysteries aren't only good by keeping the culprit a mystery.
I definitely don't only want to applaud those who deal with “literature” and the like. Anyone who can write well and those books that stand above should be noticed, no matter what the subject. Sorry if I sounded exclusive or snobby!
No you didn't Kassa but I know people who think if it's not some prfound piece of thinking it's not really worthy of being published.
You just know that, that cat is going to get revenge when you go to sleep tonight…. da dum da dum (or however the Jaws theme goes)
I don't want real life in my fiction! Thats why I read fiction 🙂
I use to read Johanna Lindsey as a teenager (all those years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth) and I loved them because the viking could get the princess and live HEA. M/M sex is so alien (not being a male… although I've been told I have more testosterone than most men – personally I think people who say that are to scared to call me a bitch to my face LOL) I don't know what it's like to get my dick sucked. So for me it has that oohhh aahhh ouch… you want to put that where? NO WAY! factor to it. It's also just so effing hot watching two blokes go at it…. I'm going to go now 🙂
PS BTW Kris, you may call me bitch to my face 🙂 From you it will make me feel like a princess 🙂 and I will know that I am wuv'ed
I'm relatively easy to please.
What do you mean you don't believe me? Who's being the meanies now, huh?!
I am not hard to please at all, I am also not demanding so therefore I can't be a meanie right??
I just want something not too fluffy, sort of realistic, good looking guys, maybe some tough on the outside, sweet pussycat on the inside one, a blond twinky, maybe a bit of were, some mystery, a bit of plot, some smut but not on every page, a bit of D/s, some GFY and a HEA. That is not too much to ask right?
Speaking as an auther here:
I write what I write. You can like it or not. If you don't like this one, maybe the next one will suit you better. Because with me, you never know what you're going to get next. Could be fluffy flower faeries. Could be contemporary kink with cancer involved. Could be post-apocalypse biker gangs.
Even the weirdest will be strongly realistic, because that makes it believeable.
Speaking as a reader, anything. Heavy, light, fluff, horror, grim. It's all good. Carving out eyeballs or having hot threeway sex. Or both at the same time. Bring it. Just don't write it in present tense or second person and I'll read it.
I agree, Kris. Maybe I'm a meanhead, so what? 😉 Well, TBH I try not to be, really, but I prefer my books to have some meat on them. Er, not that kind of meat. Get your mind out of the gutter! 😛
I've noticed that I can be quite contradictory in my demands. It all boils down to the fact that I want reality, but only some kinds of reality. I want the problems (if there are problems, and it's not a must-be) to be realistic, well-depicted, not just some clichés thrown in without any kind of depth. But I also want a HEA/strong HFN, always – even if we all know this is not at all realistic. I want to believe that once the guys I've invested my emotions in reach that magic moment in which they are finally together, that's how they'll remain, together, without hurting each other, ever again *rolls eyes* – but it must be told in a plausible way for me to be sold on it, of course ;). I want books that are more than just erotica, but, guess what, I'm not averse to good written sex scenes ;). Mainly, I don't want to forget the book I read as soon as I've finished it.
Just as I have my own idiosyncrasies, every reader has their own. Together we can be very vocal about them sometimes. I feel for those authors who try to get at the heart of our demands *grin*. Just write what you really like and then, if we're lucky, we will like it too ;).
Katiebabs chook: “I think both types are needed.”
As a mood reader to the nth degree, I absolutely agree!I want the mix of heavy and light… which has reminded me that I seriously need to stick to my diet. 😦
Tam: “Of course some things will make me crazy but sometimes it's how it's presented because the next book with the same thing doesn't bother me at all. Go figure.”
'Go figure' is usually my response too when that happens, Tam, but occasionally – very occasionally – I get interested enough to try and work out why something worked in one instance and not the other.
“… but I know people who think if it's not some prfound piece of thinking it's not really worthy of being published…”
I do too. They drive me batshit, but it's always fun to remind them that some of the 'classics' were published in serial form and basically the pulp fiction of their day. They generally don't have an answer to that. LOL.
KC: You're high maintenance period. 😛
High standards are good, especially in smut. *g*
If you write a letter thanking the author for sparkly vampires, co-dependent relationships and teenage pregnancy you might get lynched. Just sayin'. 😉
Lily: I wish I was more of an easy going reader, but when you've been a bitch as long as I have… 🙂
“I may skim through parts of a story that's boring me (just did a lot of that with a book I read) and then find that a similar book appeals to me.”
You and Tam are twins! 🙂
Chris: We are Khris. Resistance of the mood is futile.
You bullied Stephani the most. Don't blame the rest of us. 😛
Wren: Are you saying that I'm not 100% human?? *That would explain a lot.*
As an author, I can say wholeheartedly that we ARE meanheads.
So, er, shut the hell up.
Kassa: We'll be meanheads together, but no way I'm doing the resolution thing. Sounds way too hard. *g*
“Whether it's deeply intellectual, tough subjects, screw ball comedy, or just plain raunchy fun – well written stories stand out.”
I agree. A good story is just a good story. No matter what the genre or theme or intended audience. I also like who a 'good' story can mean different things to different people. It just makes it all the more interesting. 🙂
Tish: I can call you bitch. Awesome. You know that I was doing that anyway though, right. 😉
“It's also just so effing hot watching two blokes go at it…. I'm going to go now :)”
Jen: “I'm relatively easy to please.”
The rolling of eyes almost resulted in the Earth turning and the switching of poles. I kid you not.
Ingrid: “I just want something not too fluffy, sort of realistic, good looking guys, maybe some tough on the outside, sweet pussycat on the inside one, a blond twinky, maybe a bit of were, some mystery, a bit of plot, some smut but not on every page, a bit of D/s, some GFY and a HEA. That is not too much to ask right?”
That was classic, Ingrid. You win comment of the day. 🙂
Angelia: “I write what I write. You can like it or not. If you don't like this one, maybe the next one will suit you better.”
That's a great attitude, Angelia. 🙂
“… post-apocalypse biker gangs… “
O_O Really?? When, where, how?! You better not be fibbing to me cos I'm all excited now. LOL.
Kris: “Wren: Are you saying that I'm not 100% human?? *That would explain a lot.*”
As a reader, you can read anything you like into my comment 🙂
Sean: So who are the meanheads, exactly? Authors or readers? Or author-readers?
Sara: And you used to be so sweet… 😛
“I've noticed that I can be quite contradictory in my demands. It all boils down to the fact that I want reality, but only some kinds of reality.”
I'm pretty much the same, Sara. Not really surprising. I think we have had some similar attitudes to things that I've posted about.
“Just write what you really like and then, if we're lucky, we will like it too ;).”
Don't you mean if 'they're' lucky. 😛
Sean: “So, er, shut the hell up.”
Well, ok, then. Not.
Wren: Smart arse.
I think I'm making a new rule for my blog where I'm the only person allowed to be funny. You're all encroaching on my turf. Plus I like picking on you guys better than getting picked on. 😉
I'm not mean. I just have certain strong preferences. Sometimes I just want the light and fluffy. It's ironic, because I work for an author who writes horror mixed with humor. Jordan has quite a high tolerance for gore in what she reads and watches. I like the humor and supernatural aspects in her books. My gore tolerance is pretty low. She loves to hear that something she wrote creeped me out.
I'm good with a book which touches on social issues or characters with various personal challenges, but I want a light touch concerning the issue. I don't want to feel like I'm being lectured.
I'll just do a rambling post on my LJ about this.
Um…dare I say I've been outlining a kinda sorta steampunk story in which one of the characters (male, of course) suffers from mental illness? Gee, guess I just said it.
Readers mystify me. That's my basic reaction. Then again, people's taste in all sorts of things (music, movies, food) often mystifies me. Human nature in general mystifies me.
Considering how befuddled I am, it's kind of astonishing I'm not wandering around the Yukon asking ice worms where dat Ludacris and Conway Twitty concert be.
people's taste in all sorts of things (music, movies, food) often mystifies me.
This from the woman who finds chicken “creepy”. 😛
Emilie: “I just have certain strong preferences.”
I'm stealing this, although, granted, you definitely aren't mean and I am. And to prove just that I giggled when I read that Jordan likes to creep you out. 🙂
“I don't want to feel like I'm being lectured.”
That's a really interesting point, Emilie. You've just inspired a post with it in fact. Thanks. I also look forward to reading what more you have to say on the meanhead topic.
KZ: “Um…dare I say I've been outlining a kinda sorta steampunk story in which one of the characters (male, of course) suffers from mental illness? Gee, guess I just said it.”
Awesome. I'll hold you to it. *g*
“Human nature in general mystifies me.”
Damn straight. People are strange. Good thing, though. It would be as boring as bat shit if we were all the same.
Tam: She's probably been reading too many zombie chicken stories. 😛
I was struggling with this lates MOS like you would not believe and my bff said THE best thing ever to me–to sort of put me on the straight and narrow again (as if)–you write the story you need to tell.
I needed to tell that story. Good, bad, indifferent, this new book has some deeper themes (but not TOO deep) and I had a hard time marrying who I am as a writer with what I perceive as reader expectation.
Anywho. Readers are not mean!!!
Unless they live in Australia. (Just. Kidding.)
Shit. Did I just do a post on how I wouldn't be LISABEA anymore?
Just ignore that.
LB Gregg in Lisabea suit.
Well Said Kris, I agree!
I'm looking forward to the Blog Crawl.
I'm so looking forward to your letter, Kris! I'm curious if you can skip the demanding meanhead thing entirely 😉
Wonderful initiative of you and Kassa 😀
Lisbea/LB Gregg/whoever the hell you are: You know just because I admit that I'm mean and a bitch doesn't mean that it's open season. I can still take you down, small one.
The bff who gave you that advice rocks, especially since it has given us such a wonderful story. I love Holden and Adam. It's a story that I can relate to in so many ways. So thank you for writing it, LB. 🙂
Lea: Meanheads R Us. *g* I'm looking forward to reading all the fandom letters too. It should be terrific.
Janna: I would love to take credit for this idea, but it's entirely Kassa's. She just let me bask in her glory a little. LOL.
BTW, Kassa has already seen my letter and approved of it's lovey doviness. So there.
You already have your love letter written?? And you're not on the docket until, like, May umptynth?
Color me impressed.
You should be, Wren. It took me 2 seconds and is a whole two sentences. It is teh awesome.
I feel compelled to say as good as the letter was, it needed a little editing.
I think I'm pretty middle of the road in my desire for the nitty gritty stuff vs. light romance. I want it both but don't think I'm demanding either way. There's just too much to read out there.
Kris~Aw. Don't make me cry. Thanks.
Also-I need a proof reader. JEbUS EFfn HECk n HeLl. It's so shaming to be a bad typist!
Bye. Enjoy the fan letters! I think it's brilliant.
Not fibbing. We have the worldbuilding outline and rough plot as well as the first five pages of “Barbarossa's Bitch” done.
Think Adam Lambert as Lord Humungous from Road Warrior, set in the area around Concordia MO, throw in some Goreans, a bizarro religious cult, and a lot of folks just trying to make, all as narrated by an erstwhile computer programmer who is now a biker-gangleader's sex toy.
But I have steampunk and more contemporary kink to finish. That's my Julnowrimo project.
You raise such a good point. The balancing act must be immense…and for every reader that wants a books that deals with certain issues there will be another that wants a book they can escape into, where all the nasty RL issues never surface.
Saying that, I do think that the majority of books are skewed towards the escapism rather than the issues.
Bottom line, authors can write what they chose, but then I can read what I chose 🙂
Kassa: Everyone's a critic. 😛
Tracy: My wanting both is obviously much meaner than yours, Tracy. I'd be the one throwing the tantrum about all these things. LOL.
LB: But it's good crying so it doesn't count. Smooches and snuggles.
Angelia: “Think Adam Lambert as Lord Humungous from Road Warrior…”
I'm so suckered. Erm, July is so long away though. Can't you push it up the schedule a bit? For me. *bats eyelashes*
Orannia: “The balancing act must be immense…and for every reader that wants a books that deals with certain issues there will be another that wants a book they can escape into, where all the nasty RL issues never surface.”
Exactly. Authors are never going to be able to please everyone so your point about the bottom line is spot on, Orannia. And very well said. 🙂
Thank you Kris 🙂