A New Pet-Peeve

Egregiously busy around here, as ever.

And of course I surface to gripe about something that used to annoy me, but now makes me downright mad.

Secondary characters in romances: You know the ones — the mother, the sister, brother, partner, gay BFF who says the right thing at just the right time. The “heartfelt talk” that helps either the hero or heroine see their romantic interest in a different light, or perhaps see just how badly they’re screwing up.

Pick up any romance — at least 7 in 10 will have a scene like that these days. From a theory standpoint, that secondary character could be serving as The Mentor, The Trickster, The Herald, or a Threshold Guardian, depending, but…

Why the HELL aren’t the hero and heroine having these conversations with each other? People don’t choose romance to get a character reference from some random bobble-head secondary character.

If you’re writing a romance and you’ve used this tired old device as a stand-in for real conflict intensification and resolution, think twice. Unless there is an extremely compelling reason — and I do mean extremely — why tension and understanding can’t be accomplished between the main protags alone, take the binky out of your mouth and rewrite the scene between the hero and heroine.

Yes, I can hear your protests. “But that wouldn’t work because…”

Hey, despite what the rest of the literary world might lead everyone to believe, no one said writing romance was easy. Or if they did, they’ve never written beyond chapter 1.

And never use the word “chuckle”, lest ye forget.


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