On Covers & Romantic Plot Lines

Let’s cut right to the chase: New Adult Romance. If I see another generic cover with some random brown-haired guy almost kissing some random girl (of any hair color, but to be honest, they all look the same)…well, there is no good way to end this sentence. I’ve read a LOT of historical romance, folks. And I don’t have a single book on my shelf that has people canoodling each other on the (front) cover. Definitely, sometimes, on the inside cover, but not the front. Because I won’t pick up books like that. Because it gets OLD. I see a lot of covers sometimes, and I really can’t be sure if the vast majority aren’t the exact same book.

Maybe that’s standard for the contemporary romance genre. Maybe that’s why I don’t read it anymore. Formulaic covers. Formulaic books. Formulaic myself when I wrote them. Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t like romance. I LOVE romance. Well, let me restate that: I love romantic elements. If that’s the only point of the story, to get character A with character B, then I’m bored. In historical romance, yeah, that’s half the story, but the other half is the dark count/baron/nobleman/pirate coming to terms with his dark, dark past to make him emotionally available to that hot ass lady he’s trying not to bite. And the lady? She has her own issues to deal with, anything from a dying relative to starving siblings to a reputation in tatters to an abusive husband she really needs to get away from! Not to mention she also has to deal with brooding guy’s crap.

Yeah, they also get together or work their issues out or whatever, but there’s so much else going on and that’s just so much more exciting than A & B getting together being the only point of the story. It’s so…formulaic. They meet. They fight. They make up and live happily ever after. It’s why I stopped watching romantic comedies. I just got so tired of it.

I wrote this story a couple of falls ago, How Deep Is My Darkness, probably the biggest romantic subplot I’ve ever had. It was a bit of a challenge, but I LOVE their relationship and how it builds and how perfect they are together, just perfect. ^_^ But there came a point in my story where they were fighting and he wanted to run off to spare her extra pain because his crap was making it worse, and I stopped him. I didn’t meet my word count goal because of this, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t have him run off and then have her track him down and blah, blah, blah. I had enough of their crap to deal with in the story without adding that cliche tumble of crap.

Maybe that was a mistake. I just know how I feel when I read that. I feel sick. And annoyed. And I want to throw something. So I had her stop him. And he stayed. And I didn’t make my word count. And I was mad about that. But I was happy I didn’t have to deal with it. My sometimes ho-hum feelings about that story have nothing to do with their relationship. That’s the only thing about that story that I always love. The two of them. They make me happy, and I hope I can duplicate that in another story someday. Not that I shelved that story. I just kind of look at it and wonder if it’s fixable or if I’m stuck with it the way it is. Maybe I just wrote a good story. Good, not great. I guess that’s okay. I can’t really find anything wrong with it. Except that maybe I find parts of the plot a little silly.

I digress. I meant to rant about contemporary romance covers. Then again, I’m not really the target audience since I don’t really gravitate to those kinds of stories. I guess the people who love those stories expect a certain formula and a certain cover on the book. I just don’t get why they don’t ever want something different. (In general, I do know some people think outside of the proverbial box.)

My favorite historical romance cover has a key on the front. There’s just the one cover – no inside cover with a girl hottie in a flowing dress and corset or a dude hottie with his barrel chest out. There is just an old, antique key and a ribbon – neither have anything to do with the story, by the way. Not that I care. I have a thing for old, antique keys. Like, a big thing. Which is why I picked up the book. That was a good book. I read it when I was 13.

Yes, I know this is horribly random. ^_^

14 Responses to On Covers & Romantic Plot Lines

  1. One of my favorite historical romance authors recently wrote a contemporary romance, which I read and found…not so compelling. I don’t read a lot of contemporary stuff. I doesn’t particularly interest me. I have a few historical romances with people in clinches on the covers, but, um, reading them on Kindle has eliminated my interaction with the covers. Now I don’t need to worry that the heroine has the wrong hair color lol

    • That DOES happen, doesn’t it? When the people on the front look nothing like the characters describe! Erg! I did read one contemporary romance during the time I was reading the bulk of my historical romances…it wasn’t good. The cover had a sparkly flower on it that I really liked though. But the two I read that took place in the present AND the past were great!

  2. LOL.
    Keys can be cool 😛
    I don’t really read historical romance. I tried reading a NA Romance, but urghhhh got bored so quickly. I so wanted to like it!

  3. I love romance, yet I hate romance. I’ve never read a romance book. They tend to make me gag. Kind of for one of the reasons that you pointed out. I love a book with romantic elements, but I don’t like romance stories. Romance stories hinge so much on buying into the romance and enjoying the characters. I often find that I don’t like one or both or worse I don’t even buy the relationship. That said, some of the shojo romances I read I absolutely love. Like love love.

    • I’ve felt that way a lot, too. The “I don’t even like them” thing. Or yeah, worse, when it’s not even believable or all forced. Or even worse, a forced love triangle. Lots of eye rolling for sure.

  4. This is funny because this last week, I’ve suddenly gotten an allergy to covers with only men’s chests. It’s never bothered me before (I mean, they are nice chests), but a few days ago, I got several YA romance review requests, and – -wham!—all chests.
    And I don’t even want to start with the formula thing–romance is, after all, one of the best selling genres. But good for you for doing something different! Maybe you should pull that MS out again 😉

    • Allergy! Haha! It is insanely popular (romance and men’s chests). I really should pull it out again, shouldn’t I?! I definitely think about how I could make it better from time to time.

  5. Your MS sounds so interesting. It’s got me all intrigued now. But yeah, I agree with you. I hate those kinds of covers. It makes me roll my eyes. I rather some abstract cover at least. I don’t like a story all about romance. So yes, to the romantic elements, because it has to have some other substance! Like, come on now! For a romance to be really great for me, it boils down to the characters. If I don’t like either of them. I don’t like the romance. Sometimes if the characters are too passionate or quirky it kind of turns me off. And give me some romantic tension to keep it burning for awhile. Insta-love drives me bonkers. I have to admit I’ve accidentally wrote in some insta-love in old MSS that always has me shaking my head at myself. So when a writer can really get me invested in their romance, my eyes are always green with envy, but my heart all bubbly and warm from the awesome romance.

  6. ” I have a thing for old, antique keys. Like, a big thing. Which is why I picked up the book. That was a good book. I read it when I was 13.”

    That is awesome! I have a thing for old artifacts like that, too!

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with you about contemporary romance book covers. Whether it’s right or not, I do judge books by their covers, and if the cover is generic and formulaic, then I assume the story within is too.

    For the record “How Deep is my Darkness” is the best title EVER. If you end up permanently shelving that manuscript, then at least recycle that awesome title!

    • Yay! Really?! That is one of my more favorite titles, but I thought it was like super long. I’ll definitely keep your vote in mind! 😀

      I totally judge books by the cover! It’s so important because it’s our first impression of the book. It should represent the story inside, so yeah, if the cover is boring, why would I think the story would be otherwise?

Hi! ^_^