Up For Discussion: Throwing Darts at Romance

This idea has been rolling around my head for a while and I want to talk about it with folks who read many of the same books I do.

Do you remember the game CLUE?  In the game the players got clues to a crime and there were characters, places, and weapons.  The items were interchangeable.  You could have Colonel Mustard killing someone in the library with a rope, or Miss Plum in the drawing room with a wrench. The variables were stable; you picked from a certain pool of weapons, characters (Miss Scarlet, Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, etc.) and locations.  In  flowcharts I had to make in school, everything focused on the decision points that then branch out and go to other decision points, then to others.  Of course, the options had to be limited, just like in a game.

Lately, I have felt this with both contemporary and historical romance novels.  Sometimes I feel like the writer is throwing darts at a board  to decide on whatever variable at which with they are at a decision point.  feel this particularly about time period, and title or occupation. I think it’s one reason people look down on the genre; it can seem like the game I mentioned above, or another fill-in-the blanks type of entertainment.

Other people have touched on this idea — I’ve seen articles on the incidence of heroes professions in books being really different than reality (ex.: http://www.adweek.com/galleycat/10-most-popular-professions-for-romance-novel-heroes/29451), and that there are way too many adults whose parents had died tragically so they lived in the foster system, with relatives, on the street. 

Is this just a genre thing?  If I read Regency Romance then other than commoners there were titled nobles and not a lot more, or if I read Rock ‘n Roll Romance there will be musicians with substance abuse problems, quickie marriages and divorces.

Or, is it a:

  • Nothing -new-under-the-sun,
  • A lack of imagination or something else
  • Do I just read too many books in the same genres?

Do you ever feel like an author is throwing darts as they write?