originality On the whole, I don’t mind seeing variations of the same old plot in what I read. Well, I do read plenty of genre literature after all! The finesse and/or psychological depth in which a well-known plot is handled can actually enrich my pleasure in reading a great deal. That said, there are a few plotlines out there that I would really like to retire for a couple of years or so, and which may very well keep me from buying a new publication unless it’s by an autobuy author.

My top overused plotline at the moment is the heroine who writes romance (including chick lit) and/or erotic novels. There have been a number of them in the last few years, and I wish they’d take a break. The romance/erotic novel writer heroine may lead to any or several of the following scenarios, which I’ve read to a surfeit:

-The heroine has only experienced bad sex before the hero comes along, but her own sex scenes are ever so thrilling.
-The heroine has had lots of good sex before, added to lots of research, and now there is an issue about how she knows everything about sex.
-The hero makes sweeping assumptions about the heroine due to the erotic novels/romances she writes.
-There is constant identification between the heroine and her fictional characters.
-The heroine bases her latest fictional hero on this hot man she’s just met/she’s known for years.
-The world in general reacts with great snobbism to the fact that she writes romance.
-In a historical: The heroine instigates an affair with a rake for research reasons.

Been there, done that. Now what I’d love was a heroine who wrote travel books, or YA fiction, or fantasy.

Another plotline I’d really like to see retired for a couple of years is the whole idea of fated mates. This can be found in about every other paranormal, or that’s my impression anyway. Now what is so romantic about a gent taking a single sniff at a lady and instantly knowing, without any doubt, that she’s The One? Suppose she had used a different deodorant that day? As you can see, I am not fond of the plotline as a rule. Whenever I read a book with this motif, a little inner demon keeps asking nigging questions, like: What if she’s not into furry and refuses him outright? Why does this never ever happen when the woman in unattractive (except in her own eyes), or the man is paunchy, or either one is suffering from animal hair allergy? Why, oh why, does the partner so chosen, perhaps after some token resistance, always accept this must be so? So I really like to see a werewolf hero who choses his mate because of, well, liking her. Or lusting after her great body. Or because her dad’s the alpha and the hero wants to become crown prince. Just not the fated thingy.

I’m also getting a tad bored with all those traumatized heroes. Yes, I realise many, many readers love a suffering hero, a hero with a dreadful past he must come to grips with. I only wish there was a more of a mixture here. Sometimes, I just yearn for a happy-go-lucky guy in a romance. No angst, no PTSD, no brooking or scowling; just a good-humored man who is content with where he is and what he does.

How about you? What are plotlines that you think have been overdone recently, and that should take a break? What variations of these plotlines would you prefer instead?

-Rike Horstmann

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I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.