Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a total wuss. When the background music goes into that minor-key “danger” riff, I dive right out the door. Or I used to. Now I just stay away from the television altogether.
I don’t need bad guys in my fiction. There are enough of them in the real world (mostly politicians) and they upset me plenty; do I have to deal with them in my off hours, too? I hate knowing that there are helpless victims in the world; it’s painful.
Now, this may look like a contradiction. After all, what am I writing about (and turned on by) but helplessness in the hands of strength? But for me the similarity is superficial, not real. In my fantasies there’s always consent up front, safety, sanity. Nonconsent is too scary; I can’t go there.
Take out bad guys, risky, non-consensual action, genuine fear, and you lose most of the traditional plot devices. Which is fine with me, but also creates a certain level of confusion in my readers, who keep expecting for something big to happen. A breakup, a breakdown, a kidnapping – something. When Lisabet Sarai reviewed As She’s Told for Erotica Revealed, despite giving it two thumbs up, she complained that there wasn’t enough conflict or revelation; no big climactic finish. (I’d argue that there is conflict, revelation and growth, but it’s internal.)
And here we come to the standard plot trajectories. Readers have expectations. Viewers do too. There are cues: falling shadows, a character with no apparent ties to the plot, a phone call in the middle of the night with no voice at the other end. Romance plots require misunderstandings, pride, abduction, gulfs of class or distance – something separating the lovers before the final revelation and happily-ever-after. (See, I’m so out of that loop that I don’t even write HEA.)
But what I’ve written about so far is relationships. Deeply kinky ones, but nevertheless relationships as they develop. Is there not enough drama in that? I’d like to think so. People can be fascinating as they change and adjust and create something new, something larger than themselves. There’s a plot going on, but it’s subtle, enmeshed in the slowly developing kink trajectory.
What’s your take on this? Does lots of external action and tension make a book a better read? Do you prefer certain types of plots over others?
Can lovers living in harmony win your heart?