Conventions Without A Real Convention Centre.

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This past Tuesday, Smart Bitches Trashy Books posted an entry about romance heroines who don’t want kids.www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/gs.-vs.-sta-heroines-who-dont-want-kids/  For some readers, the love has to lead to marriage and an ending, or epilogue, with a baby carriage. For others, like me, the kid is an unnecessary convention often found in romance fiction.

Conventions are the hallmark of popular fiction. We all know romance fiction abounds with conventions and clichés; the secret baby, the marriage of convenience, the bad boy who’s tamed by the love of a good woman, the happy ending. Westerns have their cowboy loners and hired gunmen, Spy novels abound with evil dudes or organisations hell-bent on world domination, and Thrillers are stocked by serial killers and stalkers who are always after the hero and his family. As far as conventions go, I abhor the baby ending or epilogue in romance. It lacks imagination. It’s as if the writer is saying to me, you’re too dumb to know that this couple builds a life together so I’ll spell it out for you. I can take some conventions, I like the Happily Ever After, but the convention that really chaps my tender hide, is the tenet that insists the heroine has to be…nice.

Men get to be unpleasant, surly or ill mannered, but sorry, ladies. You’ve got a vagina and you’ve gotta keep yourself nice, nice, nice.  Those are the rules. This is how it is unless you’re going to live in Paranormalopolis or Spyville. Then you get some realistic qualities, you get to have cramps and a bad day, you’re allowed to use the eff word and sleep with multiple partners and werewolves and the scruffy English MI6 agent.

You can be June Cleaver (and you know I’m all for June Cleaver, cooking and cleaning techniques), however, please allow for a little bit more realism with our personalities in romance. We can talk about blended families, drug abuse, domestic violence in a romance novel, but come on, how about we lighten up on the nice thing?

Nice. I’ve had it up to here with the nice convention in romance and I bet I’m not the only one. Like me, I’m sure you wonder WHY there aren’t more bitchy, unlikable, Kate-like heroines who are redeemed by the love of a Petruchio or Shrinky.

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