In library news, I'm knee deep in weeding our very sad, very embarrassing reference collection. This morning I chucked my entire collection of Who's Who In America (because I hate those damn books) and a Thomas Register set from 2000. To any librarians reading this - yes, my reference collection really is that sad.
Maili mentioned in a previous comment that she'd like to see my aborted RTB column on children in romance. Always eager to please - here it is:
No One Under 12 Admitted
“Anyone who hates children and animals can't be all bad.” – W.C. Fields
Ever look – I mean really look – at couples with small children? At single moms and/or dads with small children? They look like hell, don’t they? Tired, exhausted, working full time – its sort of like Night Of The Living Dead except these poor adults aren’t technically zombies.
So why oh why do romance authors insist on putting small children in romances? Children are not romantic. Sure they’re cute. Sure they’re sweet. But nothing saps the romance out of a situation quicker than a child with a poopy diaper.
Worse still, there are many writers writing child characters who have no business doing so. Has this ever happened to you? You’re reading a book, and everything is going fine. Then little Timmy, age 3, shows up and starts speaking sugary dialogue like:
“I seepy Mommy.”
“Mommy, I no feel good.”
“I wuv you.”
Do kids talk like this in real life? Maybe. Do children often suffer from lisps? Sure. Do I want to read this claptrap in a romance novel? Heck no!
Infants and toddlers are just learning. They haven’t quite figured out the concept of conjugating verbs, adverbs or adjectives. They are also, by their very nature, cute as the dickens (otherwise they’re on shows like Nanny 911). You can’t write them any other way, and some authors have a tendency to go overboard.
Here’s a reminder – romance readers tend to read books for the romance. We do not read romance novels for toddlers who talk like Elmer Fudd.
That isn’t to say that all child characters in Romance Novel Land are inherently awful. Ones of a certain age can actually add dimension and conflict to a story. Thinking back on all the books I’ve read that feature interesting younger characters a pattern begins to emerge. They’re all over the age of 12. Every single one of them. They talk like adults (for the most part) and are going through various angst and struggles that we can all relate to, because after all – we were once in their shoes.So my advice to romance authors is if you can’t write kids – don’t try. Sure these tykes are cute in real life, but slapping them with cloying dialogue has a way of inducing severe eye rolling in readers. The fact remains, that child characters are a potential minefield. If you can’t write them convincingly, don’t write them at all.