Romance is a wonderful thing. It’s great to experience and fun to read. Romance is the backbone of many Christian novels and many times is done quite well thanks to fine writers out there creating great books.
Writers need to crank up the lovefest to keep readers titillated and eager for that first kiss or marriage proposal. I get that. What I don’t get is why there needs to be at least one “zing” per page, if not two or three.
By “zing” I mean the man getting a twinge when he touches her hand or sees the sun gleam off her hair or sees the twinkle in her eye. The woman feeling her heart pound, her nerves tingling, or her pulse quicken. Don’t forget the pupils widening, quick intakes of breath, staring unabashedly or surreptitiously, being surprised at noticing her dress, or breathing in his musky scent.
This happens page after page after page. I get more and more and more irritated. Where’s the plot? Buried beneath the zings! Recently I got so irritated during the first 30 pages that I slammed a book shut and threw it down. I’d enjoyed this author’s previous books and looked forward to the start of a new series. Until the zinging started and didn’t stop.
That afternoon I picked up two Oprah Book Club novels for 25 cents each at a garage sale and dove right in. I enjoyed them both, experiencing not even one zing.
The bigger issue is why authors and editors feel the need to tell me time after time that the protagonists are attracted to each other. Do they think I’ll forget after reading half a page?
I took a driving trip recently, going from my home to western Pennsylvania, then to Cincinnati before heading home again. My phone’s GPS kept me informed about where I should go—ad nauseam—from the second I left the driveway.
While I appreciated not getting lost, I couldn’t have gotten lost if I tried. The voice would always direct me back to the right place whether I wanted to go that way or not. It was relentless in its direction-giving.
Finally I turned it off once I knew where I was going, just like I threw down that book with all its endless, romance-pointing zings. Two months later that novelist’s book is still sitting on my office floor, the bookmark stuck at page 30.
Share your little annoyances with Christian fiction. I’ll gather them and put them in a new blog post. Don’t worry, though. There will be posts on what I like about Christian fiction, too!