Angst Away!

broken heart

I love angst.  Well, maybe not in real life.  Actually, it pretty much stinks in the real world.  But in romance novels?  Ooh, I eat that stuff up.  I love a good heart pang in the middle of a romantic complication.  But, speaking as someone who’s read plenty of romances…it’s a very fine line.  Because heart-pangy angst can easily slip into annoying stupidity.

As I’ve been working on my own novel, I have been thinking of what I don’t like in other people’s books, so I can try to avoid doing that same stuff in mine.  Easier said than done, but a good goal, anyway.  And one of the most annoying things to me in romance novels is manufactured angst.

Yes, I know, I just said I love it, but what I love is the angst that seems to naturally fit the plot, stuff that the characters have no control over.  Or maybe it’s something they do have control over, but it takes them a while to figure that out and find a way to fix it.

But when it’s because they don’t or worse, won’t talk about something, or because of the silliest misunderstandings, it makes me want to chuck the book.

You think he’s cheating because the very clearly villainous secretary implied that she was with him and then you don’t even ask him about it?  Stupid.  You can’t be with her because you thought you overheard her saying she loves someone else, but again, you don’t ask?  Come on!

But give me a man who has lost his family and is afraid to open himself up again or a woman who is pretending to be someone else for legitimate reasons and I’m all over that.  And if you make me cry a little, even better!

In the end, it’s all subjective and obviously I can’t entirely anticipate what will bug other people when they read my novel.  I can only write it from my perspective and hope that readers won’t feel the urge to gnash their teeth in frustration.  Or chuck my book.  There will be no chucking my book!

So fair warning to anyone who might want to read my novel someday, just so you know, and you’ve probably by now guessed…there be angst.  Hopefully not silly, non-communicative angst, but angst, nonetheless.  Cause I love it.

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23 thoughts on “Angst Away!

  1. What a coincidence. Manufactured Angst is actually the name of my Indie funktronica band.

    As someone who knows virtually nothing about romance stories, this was always something that bugged me too. Something that always stands our like a sore thumb. Especially when it could be countered with a very easy, “Then why don’t you just ask them about it?” Glad to hear you’re eliminating that kind of garbage from your story.

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    • I know, it drives me nuts! Not that people don’t do the same in real life, but I don’t want to read a story where someone brings their own angst on themselves, simply because they won’t have a conversation. It’s ridiculous!

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  2. My current real life seems to be full of angst, so I’m not sure I would even like it in fiction form right now. LOL Seriously, I am glad that you are adding angst that is realistic and not that annoyingly contrived stuff.

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    • Well, that’s the nice part about angst in a book…it isn’t MY angst, so I can take it for what it’s worth. Plus, I know (almost always, anyway) that everything is going to turn out just fine in a book. Real life, not necessarily.

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  3. What a good post. It’s so well written. Many years ago, I had a friend who called her husband’s hotel room when he was traveling for business. A woman answered the phone. She hung up. She waited a minute or two and then called again. Her husband answered. She told me about it, but she never asked her husband if a woman was in his room or she had gotten the wrong room. It drove her crazy, but she wouldn’t ask. Maybe she didn’t really want to know. I would ask.

    Love,
    Janie

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  4. Yes, you can’t have a good love story without angst. How about the angst of a woman in love with a man who has a fetish for being squeezed by female gorillas? Can she cure him? Could you cure him? I can give you his email address.

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    • Maybe I should get the woman’s email instead? Then I could encourage her to put on a few pounds, let her armpit and leg hair grow out and teach her some great arm strengthening exercises chosen to enhance squeezing capability? See, problem solved. I am an amazing romance author!!

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  5. I’ve seen the rom-coms (mostly because my wife makes me watch them with her) & I have to agree with you on the manufactured angst. I’d watch the movie & think, “OH, COME ON!!! Just ask him who that woman & child you happened to see him with in the park were! Then you’d actually know his sister & niece were visiting instead of running to your “all-men-are-cheating-dogs” girlfriends for the wrong advice.”

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  6. You put your picture on here! Maybe I should be as brave. I don’t know. What do you think?

    Also, the first thing I teach all my girls at work is “USE YOUR WORDS”. It’s also the advice I give to my friends who think something but won’t talk about it. It makes me want to chuck a book at them…a dictionary.

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  7. I think that’s solid advice, regardless of the genre you’re writing. And that applies to other types of drama too. Nothing worse than clumsy manufacturered drama, poorly designed plots, or unbelievable character relationships. You’re on the right track. Having said that, if you have sparkly vampires in your book I will toss your book… then burn it. Lol, just kidding. 🙂

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    • That’s true, you can make a muck out of any genre, can’t you? And not to say I’ll get everything right, but this is just one of the things I’ve been noticing a lot when I read.

      Oh, you are gonna miss out then…my book is going to have sparkly vampires and sparkly houses and sparkly kittens! It’s so exciting.

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  8. You’re right, some angst is good. It keeps things interesting and helps move the story along. But sometimes it just goes to far. I really don’t like it when I want to yell something like “What is your problem you IDIOT?” at a character for creating drama/angst. What is too much vs enough angst seems to be pretty subjective, though.

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