Off the Rails – Gay Romance Gone Bad

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Gay romance is one of my favorite genres to write and read, but I’ve noticed some disturbing patterns of late. I’m not talking about fringe stuff, kinks, or dark reads – just regular M/M stories with happy endings. Apparently, a good number of authors have become complacent or are more interested in pushing their personal agenda than crafting a fine, well-balanced story. I suspect the same could be said for any popular genre, but this one caught my attention. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Overused Tropes

Honestly, how many people inherit a cabin in the woods or the estate of an absentee relative? Not all dog owners fall in love with their Vet and most enemies (boss, business rival, or High School crush) do not become the love of your life! Furthermore, hot and single millionaires are not hanging around with common folks looking for a meaningful relationship. Authors need to quit relying on tired old tropes whose time have come and gone.

Fractured Families

I can’t count the number of MC’s whose parents have died horribly or are way too old to have twenty or thirty something offspring! Are we meant to believe that all gay men face life alone or worse yet, aren’t speaking to their relatives? Do gay men always have homo-hating fathers, abused mothers, and siblings they never talk to? I understand the need to inject drama into a story, but why so often at the expense of family?

Young and Fit

Not every gay man in the world is under 35, healthy, hung, and drool-worthy. This may sell books, but it isn’t real. Enough said.

First Time Gay

This one really burns my cookies. There is an overabundance of stories about the clueless straight guy falling for his best gay friend, boss, neighbor, etc. Being gay is not a choice, and truly straight men do not suddenly realize that they are interested in sex with another man, as titillating as that idea may be! Often, authors of this type of story are married heterosexual women. Check your facts honey – it doesn’t happen this way (just ask your husband)!

Anytime Sex

Sorry, but penetrative sex can’t happen whenever the mood strikes. Not only that, many gay men don’t enjoy it at all, preferring other forms of intimacy. Again, a healthy dose of realism (not the gory details) and diversity is needed in the gay man’s bedroom.

Religion Bashing

I will be the first one to admit the church at large has treated the LGBT community horribly, and there is good reason to be angry. That said, it isn’t necessary or fair to blame the religious community for every problem in a gay man’s life, and not all people of faith are raving lunatics. Rejection and condemnation by family and clergy alike remains a significant problem, and I don’t mean to say authors should ignore it. What they need to do is avoid bludgeoning readers with it repeatedly. The horse is dead already, so give it a rest.

 

Romances will always remain popular, and there are thousands of authors out there cranking out story after story. I understand and accept the wide diversity of readers, writers, subjects, and tropes, but would like to see more balance, realism, and thoughtful crafting. As a writer, it’s my responsibility. As a reader, I deserve better.

Where do story ideas come from?

I have been asked where the ideas come from for my books, but the question does not have a simple answer. For the most part, the source is my own imagination which is fed by life experiences, news reports, casual conversations, dreams, movies, and other books I have read. It may be said there is a story to be told in almost anything – the trick is to make it interesting for the reader.

I cannot speak for any other writers out there, but I live in my head most of the time. Ideas come and go constantly, and some get more attention than others. The good ones tend to stick around and bug me, while the others are dismissed unless they come up again. When that happens, I tend to stop and rethink the possibilities. Some ideas would be great for a short story but impossible for a novel length piece. Other ideas are ones I wish I could write about, but lack the skill or experience to tell them properly.

With a brain like grand central station, I am forced to write things down when inspiration strikes, or I tend to lose them quickly. I have a number of file folders, divided by genre, filled with scraps of paper with hastily scribbled notes. That may seems like a quaint and inefficient way of doing things, but it works for me and gives me the peace of mind to let the idea go for now, knowing it is safely recorded for use when I need it. Each day is filled with potential story prompts, and as long as I have a pen and paper handy, I will have plenty of fodder for creative and interesting future books.

If you have read my books and have suggestions for future stories, drop me a line at aelliottbooks@gmail.com

I never know where a great idea may come from – it could be you!