Author Topic: Genre Expectations and conventions.  (Read 23027 times)

The Deposed King

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Genre Expectations and conventions.
« on: June 10, 2008, 08:36:38 pm »
I don't think patty would go for it. the only tension she could build on would be who would have the net power fight and that would get boring after a while. You need a love interest to keep tension and readers. Or at least speculation of a love interest.

Well you need that for many or most female readers.  That I'll agree with.

On the other hand you can get a core of male readers who will really only care about the adventure and action and many wounldn't even notice a lack of a love angle/triangle.  Some will but many won't.

Personally I don't mind a love interest if its done right.  I'd even enjoy it if it was done tastefully and adds to the story.  But note the 'I don't mind' part.  I don't mind it but I'm not looking for it and I don't particularly need it.  I am looking for magic and action and good story.  Throw in some power politics every now and then and I'm happy as a clam.


.... I may get blasted for this, but personally I get a bit disgusted with all the romance crossovers corrupting the fantasy shelves.  Its easy right now to find a fantasy with strong love interests being the main focus.  Its harder to find one that's almost pure adventure and action.

I don't mind a blend.  But say for instance with the Anita Blake series, which was as good or better than the Harry Dresden series.  It took a 180 from the first 8 or 9 books and basically converted into a bodice ripper.  As a result it just plain lost me as a reader.  I went from staunch fan religiously buying every book as it came out to refusing to buy anything anita from that point on.

I'm sure it helped pick up some of the romance crowd.  It may even have a wider appeal.  But it was a fantasy investigative monster kicking story with a side love interest.  Now I don't know what it is.  Anita's Pregnant.  5 potential fathers.  Oh no who could it be?  'Gag me!'


The Deposed King

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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2008, 05:01:38 pm »
I'm also with ya Deposed King.  I love fantasy/paranormal/adventure and generally cool stuff like that.  Toss in some steamy scenes to spice it up and that's even better.  But when the entire book revolves around the "spice", well, I'd just go to the romance section, look at the cover, and walk away.  Just not interested. 

   As for stronger women picking "weaker" males, well, with Honey that happened in-pack, and personally I suppose I'm the "alpha" over my guy.  He's an equal partner to me, but I'm typically the decision maker.  We both protect each other, but I'm the one who would probably resort to bloodshed first if called for.  So there are guys who aren't poisoned by testosterone that can handle being "led", not only handle it but prefer it. 
 
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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2008, 05:16:23 pm »
I don't think patty would go for it. the only tension she could build on would be who would have the net power fight and that would get boring after a while. You need a love interest to keep tension and readers. Or at least speculation of a love interest.

Well you need that for many or most female readers.  That I'll agree with.

On the other hand you can get a core of male readers who will really only care about the adventure and action and many wounldn't even notice a lack of a love angle/triangle.  Some will but many won't.

Personally I don't mind a love interest if its done right.  I'd even enjoy it if it was done tastefully and adds to the story.  But note the 'I don't mind' part.  I don't mind it but I'm not looking for it and I don't particularly need it.  I am looking for magic and action and good story.  Throw in some power politics every now and then and I'm happy as a clam.


.... I may get blasted for this, but personally I get a bit disgusted with all the romance crossovers corrupting the fantasy shelves.  Its easy right now to find a fantasy with strong love interests being the main focus.  Its harder to find one that's almost pure adventure and action.

I don't mind a blend.  But say for instance with the Anita Blake series, which was as good or better than the Harry Dresden series.  It took a 180 from the first 8 or 9 books and basically converted into a bodice ripper.  As a result it just plain lost me as a reader.  I went from staunch fan religiously buying every book as it came out to refusing to buy anything anita from that point on.

I'm sure it helped pick up some of the romance crowd.  It may even have a wider appeal.  But it was a fantasy investigative monster kicking story with a side love interest.  Now I don't know what it is.  Anita's Pregnant.  5 potential fathers.  Oh no who could it be?  'Gag me!'


The Deposed King

Actually, I'm female, and not only will I not blast you for this, I agree with you wholeheartedly.  Mind, I came in from the fantasy/science fiction side rather than the romance side, so that's my taste.  But I find too many of the fantasy books out there these days are just thinly disguised romances, and that's not what I like to read.  (Again, just a matter of personal preference; not criticizing anyone else's tastes.) 
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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2008, 09:47:48 am »
At the Angela Knight thread I commented about genre expectations affecting my enjoyment of a book - it was an interesting point so I thought I would start a thread here before the mods got out the tail slaps because I was tempted to start an off topic discussion :P

I think if I was reading a romance I expect the conventions of a HEA although if I am reading an urban fantasy/sci or general fiction I really dont care. However I am open to reading a romance that expands on the conventions of romance - the only thing I wont accept especially if a book doesnt end with HEA or even happy for now. I would feel cheated if that didnt happen however I think romance in general seems to be one of the most evolving genres compared to others. And yet its not especially with certain conventions like the HEA - so does conventions and expectations affect your enjoyment reading a book?
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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2008, 10:20:35 am »
Funny you should ask that.  I've been slogging my way through a book that I had pretty high expectations for, and it's been a disappointment.  Not because the book is bad, or poorly written, but because I was expecting a fantasy book with a love story inside, and I got a love story that makes me so nuts that I can't really enjoy the fantasy bits.  Partly because the love story was the predominant story for the first 200+ pages, and partly because it's one of those relationships that I used to hate in romance-land.  Instead of enjoying the book, I keep putting it down and ranting to myself about how stupid this heroine is, and how stock-character the hero is. 

Now, I have to admit that I'm not a big romance fan, so of course that affects my reaction.  I like a good story, with adventure, and if there's a relationship/love story wrapped up in it, that's fine, but I don't like it when the romance eclipses the actual story. 

Before this, I probably would have said, "As long as it's a good book, my expectations don't really impact my enjoyment."  Now (at least today  :D ), I'd have to say differently.
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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2008, 10:23:24 am »
Since I was the one responding in the Angela Knight Thread about excactly that kind of 'problem' I'll try to express my point here (hopefully I will stay in topic).

So, In urban fiction or sci fi or whatever series that each book has things evolving in the next book, so that HEA or Happy now not sure for later is not really available I expect the romance to remain low, not non-existand mind you but that it not takes over the whole story.

In the sci fi or fantasy or even in Urban Fantasy that the series starts with a lot of romance even if HEA is not an option I can keep reading waiting for the loose ends to tie up with a HEA as long as the story has some interest past the romance.

I have to give an example so that I at least understand what I am writing. In two series from the same author (Anita Blake, Merry Gentry) the 1st one started with as much reluctant romance as possible, to the point that  the reader (I) was 'wishing' the heroine will finally come to terms and stop whining. The 2nd series started with romance and it just carried through, all the while though the story didn't lose any of its assets, if possible it became even more complicated.

My objection (and bottom line in this) is that the Anita Series didn't live up to my expectations of the heroine finally getting through her own issues and making peace with her self and her abilities, she just went on whining (though it became less) and kept on with emergencies and the plot became even less for the lenght of the book. While Merry's series became less in lenght and more complicated in plot. Tying ends and loosing others....

I guess some series have to stop when the plot is still strong so that the reader can re-read and remember the fun and excitement of the books, not coming to the point where you find yourself recalling earlier plots because the new ones just aren't up to it.

I just wish there would be someone saying "Well this must stop!" Harry potter had a goal of 7 years and though the 5th book could be half of what it became I find my self re reading it like a classic.... The more or  longer books don't always mean the better books and plots....


(And here I rest my case for now, I just kept all of it too long in mke and needed a place to get it all out, I hope it makes sense... :-[  :-X)


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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2008, 12:08:40 pm »
It definately effects my opinion, especailly if I don't think the book will be good when I pick it up. ((Like a school book))

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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2008, 01:21:09 pm »
I agree, it does effect my opinion.
I remember in school we had to read some books for German classes and I always had to force myself to read them, even though most of them were good in the end. That also works the other way though... if I read a book I had high expectations for and it doesn´t turn out that well I at times have to struggle to finish it :-\

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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2008, 03:02:56 pm »
I expected more from High expectations.*

Seriously, I don't agree on the HEA prerequisite.
I do usually enjoy books that end happy more, and I do foolishly get annoyed if the people I was holding my breath for don't make it in the end.
But I also have to admit that the unhappy ending sometimes just works better (reminds me that I have to read Love Story sometime), see The Horse Whisperer (though, the movie is better), The Loop (Evans, too) or Bridges of Madison County (though, here I enjoyed the movie more, too).
However, I'd say the way it works out has to, uhm, work.

On the other hand I agree that when I pick up a book marketed as Sci-Fi and it dips to much toward Fantasy I get angry. So, yes, I usually do have Genre expectations that I would like to see met.
But every now and then you stumble upon a book that positively surprises you by turning genre conventions over, like Donald Kingsbury's entry in the Kzin War cycle that by all rights has to be called a horror story.

Yet Twilight, for example, turns out to be a by the numbers story that I love for exactly that reason. (I knew I would enjoy it when one critic put it down as Typical Teen Romance)

I guess what it comes down to is that I expect a certain consistency from a book, it's not so much a question of meeting my genre expectations but of creating a world that is believable and holds up during reading. Much like a movie, if it works in the boundaries of it's own logic, is allowed to ignore real life physics.
 


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The Deposed King

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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2008, 08:44:54 pm »
I'm also with ya Deposed King.  I love fantasy/paranormal/adventure and generally cool stuff like that.  Toss in some steamy scenes to spice it up and that's even better.  But when the entire book revolves around the "spice", well, I'd just go to the romance section, look at the cover, and walk away.  Just not interested. 

Well personally I'm not a romance book person.  But agreed, a little hot spice added into the equation can make a book better.  Always assuming its done well.  But when the whole book is hot and steamy... its just not what I expect or want to see on the sci-fi/fantasy shelves.

Personally there were a few romance books that looked like they might have had enough fantasy elements in them I almost bought them.  But I hesitated to pick it up because I asked myself, if they are classifying some of these books as fantasty and they have this much hot and sweaty action in them, to the detriment of the plot outside the bedroom action/drama, how much more would be in an out and out romance book with fantasy elements.

   As for stronger women picking "weaker" males, well, with Honey that happened in-pack, and personally I suppose I'm the "alpha" over my guy.  He's an equal partner to me, but I'm typically the decision maker.  We both protect each other, but I'm the one who would probably resort to bloodshed first if called for.  So there are guys who aren't poisoned by testosterone that can handle being "led", not only handle it but prefer it. 

I have to think that some of the guys picked out by the female were's would be something along those lines.  A partner who just is generally happier with the wife making more of the tougher decisions.  And certainly there are guys who like you said can handle being led and in some cases prefer it.

I do wonder about femalewere's though.  With the instinct for dominance thrown in on top of the way things are for humans normally, I'm not sure that some of the she-were's wouldn't end up being disgusted with a weaker more placcid human male and terminate the relationship themself.  In favor of someone who would give them a bit of an argument.  Read a dominance fight, that being a were the female would probably win, but that they might take more joy from that, than just having someone who follows their lead.

Just like different people like and pick spouses with all different kinds of personalities I would think the same would hold true with an all female were-pack.  If they were looking at human men for romance, they'd likely end up chosing a variety of personality types.

Likely taking a submissive or much less dominent male into the all female-pack would be less stressfull and more likley to succed than taking a more dominant male into the pack who might upset the balance of power.

However if as I postulated earlier the natural order of things for a werewolf pack were reversed and instead of the females taking their rank from their mates it was the males taking their ranking from their female mate that wouldn't be as much of an issue unless one of the human husbands, who for whatever reason got turned, was more dominent than the pack alpha.

Still interesting speculation.


   (I'm currently not wearing my contacts and am slightly doped up from getting my wisdom teeth yanked today, so if that makes absolutely no sense then blame it on that)

Naaah.  You did a fine job making sense.


The Deposed King

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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2008, 09:38:45 pm »
Seriously, I don't agree on the HEA prerequisite.
I do usually enjoy books that end happy more, and I do foolishly get annoyed if the people I was holding my breath for don't make it in the end.
But I also have to admit that the unhappy ending sometimes just works better (reminds me that I have to read Love Story sometime), see The Horse Whisperer (though, the movie is better), The Loop (Evans, too) or Bridges of Madison County (though, here I enjoyed the movie more, too).
However, I'd say the way it works out has to, uhm, work.
I agree, Gerd. I love reading romance novels, and prefer a HEA, but sometimes, as in The Horse Whisperer, the unhappy ending was more appropriate and satisfying IMO. Alhtough I thought The Loop did have a happy ending, at least it satisfied me. (Hey, do we have a Nicholas Evans thread??? And what about Nocholas Sparks?? Have to go check in a minute...)

So I like a good dollop of romance in my books of any genre, but it gets boring if it's only about the spice and nothing else. Romance for me doesn't necessarily mean sex scenes.
The story has to make sense in the end, the characters have to act in ways that fits their personality. If we have a character that throughout 299 pages of the book as shown to be very moral and ethical and adament about what's right or wrong, and then on page 300 that character kills the wife/husband of her lover and sails away into the sunset with him/her, it just doesn't fit...
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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2008, 11:37:31 pm »
Snoopy, It's my thinking excactly, I don't dislike unhappy endings as long as they fit the story. After all life isn't a road spread with rosepetals.... It also has thorns spread in between.

And I don't mind the author changing the genre ofthe series if he or she thinks it will contribute to the story. In fact I like changes, it could become boring to have the same story repeated as in mystery case with murder - solving it. What I don't like is when the 100th book of a series is too little plot and too much therapy between the characters. Okay, Therapy may be needed up to a point but you can't have a book with 300 pages of therapy and 5 pages with mystery and put it in the same genre as the ones that had 80% mystery and 20% therapy.... (Therapy here includes steamy scenes that at some point you don't mind as you come to expect them.)

But if you wanted the sex scenes you would buy an erotica-romance book not the series that started as mystery - Fantasy.

I was among those who pushed themselves to read the middle of Potter's 5 and couldn't put the book down for the last 150 or a bit more pages.... The books that you have to push yourself to finish and when you finish it it's like the re-heated favourite meal of last night.... That's the ones I really wish could be 'banned'.


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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2008, 04:59:48 am »
I totally agree about the unhappy endings- if it fits well with the book regardless of the genre than I dont mind. However if its something that goes off centre or its unexpected than I will get peed off.
I think with romance it really depends on how the author conveys the relationship to the reader- for instance the Mercy series is pretty romantic and although its an urban fantasy and the romance is pretty toned down. Its one of the strongest elements of the series and the romantic triangle created a huge discussion on this board and elsewhere. It worked because the relationship that Mercy had with Adam/Sam added alot to engaging the reader. I have read some romances where the relationship felt forced and the book felt flat.

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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2008, 06:57:56 am »
Yes, because it was balanced. The romance in Mercy's series didn't take over on the action. She didn't go to rescue Jessie thinking what to do with Sam. I think that's the whole point. I might be totally wrong, but I've grown accustomed to having even a bit of romance in each story, even if the friend of a friend of the hero. As it was with Warren and Kyle, Mercy mentions it as the whole Demon mess comes out in full force and it takes abit of the seriousness away. But she doesn't concentrate on it, pondering on how Warren and ZKyle were getting along when the chase was on.... In that kind of small tips it helps you think of the big picture. Imagine Mercy taking 5 pages on how Kyle was feeling that Warren had lied to him, or how Warren was guilty for that.... She gives us info in small tips that don't take us off the main story, it adds to the main story as you have something more to think of axcept for the blood and violence....

Now, Of course I would be angry if Kyle hadn't gotten back with Warren but if it was given in a way that was understandable I would keep reading...

After all it's the unexpected that will get you hooked, the thing you hadn't foreseen that will make you keep reading a series... "Mark went on a walk on thursday, on friday and stayed home on saturday" will just spend your time, but if you put Mark through an eventfull walk on Thursday, that will keep you hooked till friday and then something will happen, like he meets the boogeyman on Friday and they have a Saturday movies night together while remembering the old scare the boogeyman gave Mark will keep you reading and you might even want to see the end of it, even if the Boogeyman scares Mark to death (after all that's what he does, scares people.)


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Re: Genre Expectations and conventions.
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2008, 04:29:30 pm »
I have to admit that I like to know what I"m getting into when I read a book. I like romances and scifi/fantasy equally well, so I like the trend of combining the two together. When it's not just a thinly disguised paranormal romance (although I like those, too); there must be an actual scifi/fantasy story fully fleshed out that has nothing to do with the romance, but with a nice romantic touch. Linnea Sinclair and Catherine Asaro are the best at this true combo, IMO. And Ann Agiurre is another one to watch, too.

And I think Katie MacAlister is doing a good-ish job of updating the traditional paranormal romance by lessening its storyline, or at least lengthening it. JR Ward is moving in that direction, too, IMO, especially with her latest book Lover Enshrined. I want thorough world-building and for the plot to be more than "s/he loves me, s/he loves me not" in my fantasy/scifi books. But I do like for there to be romantic interest in a lot of my fantasy books. Maybe not so much in my scifi ones, for some strange reason :) I *loved* LM Bujold's Vorkosigan series without the romance; Elizabeth Moon, too. I'm sure there's more, but I can't think off the top of my head.

When I read romances, I want my HEA. There was a series not too long ago that I was completely disgusted with by Cameron Dean for this very reason. Ugh. I actually threw the last book in the trash.
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