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.