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The trouble with lust-thinking

 
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1475
Location: America

PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:07 pm    Post subject: The trouble with lust-thinking Reply with quote

I'm reading Carrie Lofty's Starlight (very interesting besides this one point), and I've finally pinpointed why I have trouble with romances that use lust-thoughts to show the attraction between the hero and heroine: it isn't unique to the characters.

Yeah, sure, the hero and heroine lay eyes on one another and are attracted, but how am I supposed to believe that this is some deep, abiding, unique connection when the things they find desirable are things most men would generally find desirable about a woman and vice versa? Not to mention that it's usually written as though the hero and/or heroine have never, ever been this physically attracted to someone.

I also find it incredibly aggravating that in almost every scene where the h/h are engaged in a conversation--usually about something important--all of their inner thoughts are about how HAWT the other person is (are you even listening to what they're saying?). Rolling Eyes So I don't if it's just me, but I want to see an emotional and intellectual connection with the physical connection, and using lust-thinking as a shortcut to the HEA is just so frustrating.
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CharlotteJ



Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 89

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I notice that a lot in the shorter series books; I guess because the writers have such limited space to tell a story that they have to establish from that first look how the hero and heroine are instantly attracted.

I don't mind if the characters' thoughts combine 'hot' with something else- like the hero thinking, 'sexy legs but her sense of humor is even better'.

One of my favorite Nora Roberts books- The Search- has the hero meeting the heroine and he thinks that she wasn't 'beautiful, pretty or cute' but she looked 'interesting' and had a smile that was *almost* arresting.

I prefer that to a hero who meets the sexiest woman on the planet and wants to get her in the sack five minutes after they meet.
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Jessi



Joined: 20 Jul 2009
Posts: 74

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:14 am    Post subject: Re: The trouble with lust-thinking Reply with quote

NoirFemme wrote:
I'm reading Carrie Lofty's Starlight (very interesting besides this one point), and I've finally pinpointed why I have trouble with romances that use lust-thoughts to show the attraction between the hero and heroine: it isn't unique to the characters.

Yeah, sure, the hero and heroine lay eyes on one another and are attracted, but how am I supposed to believe that this is some deep, abiding, unique connection when the things they find desirable are things most men would generally find desirable about a woman and vice versa? Not to mention that it's usually written as though the hero and/or heroine have never, ever been this physically attracted to someone.

I also find it incredibly aggravating that in almost every scene where the h/h are engaged in a conversation--usually about something important--all of their inner thoughts are about how HAWT the other person is (are you even listening to what they're saying?). Rolling Eyes So I don't if it's just me, but I want to see an emotional and intellectual connection with the physical connection, and using lust-thinking as a shortcut to the HEA is just so frustrating.


Very well put! I too find myself very often thinking "but why THIS man/woman?" the world is full of attractive people. This is why I don't like "love at first sight" either. I would much rather have lots of great dialogue between two people who, once they have spent some time together, THEN start to notice all the physical traits. And I like it when this eventual lust thinking also includes thoughts about the other person's physical habits, like wrinkling a nose when she smiles, or tapping fingers when he's nervous. I think Meredith Duran is a very good example of the type of build up/ growth that I enjoy.
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Eggletina



Joined: 06 Jul 2010
Posts: 425

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had the same issue with Carrie Lofty's previous book in that series. Despite the fact that the hero and heroine had known each other for a while and were estranged, the book began with instant mental lusting and the author didn't do enough to show me the WHYs of this woman with that man.

The instant mental lusting is a huge pet peeve of mine and has ruined many romances for me. It's just not convincing to me that two people can last a lifetime with one another when they they don't share much else but lust for one another. I do understand instant attraction, but to convince me of a HEA the author needs to show me there's more than just that happening between the two people.

I think Joan Wolf is a good example of an author who can write the shorter format romances and be convincing within a spare scope and word count.
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Judyblueeyes



Joined: 06 Aug 2012
Posts: 163
Location: Great Lakes

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think what you are pointing out is one of those basic skills that separate good writing from Great writing. Just as important as the dialogue's flow, the plot, the depth of the characters etc, is how the writer "sells" the one true love aspect.

I can read almost any genre of story if it is written well to great on the scale. I need the author to have a few of those skills mastered and I will happily over look a skill not yet mastered, hoping as the writer grows they improve. But I am a needy enough reader that I am just grateful that they write so I can read.

I also want to add, not everyone including writers have experience with love at first sight, or enough a true love, so maybe they are just writing what they think it is or what the have know or think they know, lust. I am a believe of love at first sight and it was nothing like lust.

Lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body.

Love at first sight is almost a lust killer in my book. My experience has been that almost everything else became more important with the object of my affection and sex was on the list but much lower than sharing the same space, air, food, laughing together, watching them, talking, worring about what I was wearing, thinking of witty responses, staying calm, oh then maybe sex
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But isn't it realistic too? I doubt that either lust or even interest can occur unless something about the other attracts, what the very early romantics called a blow to the eye. I don't think human beings--men or women--even try to get acquainted with someone unless something catches the eye--not the mind, but the eye. And I think Donne was probably right when he stated that the body is the book of love.
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1368

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The prevalence of instant lust & other shortcuts is why I suggested adding a "Perfect Together" Special Title list for books that have a truly convincing HEA.
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Eliza



Joined: 21 Aug 2011
Posts: 1107

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
But isn't it realistic too? I doubt that either lust or even interest can occur unless something about the other attracts, what the very early romantics called a blow to the eye. I don't think human beings--men or women--even try to get acquainted with someone unless something catches the eye--not the mind, but the eye. And I think Donne was probably right when he stated that the body is the book of love.


While I agree that constant mental lusting and love at first sight in so many books can get to be tiresome and boring, I also agree with Dick's point--something about the other person often "catches" you, whether it's eyes, a smile, or just something that's often hard to name but you know it when it happens. I'm not saying that love can't build without instant attraction but I know too many real life instances of that "draw" to another person for no perceivable reason, as if they "recognized" one another. I guess it depends on how well an individual author carries it off OR if the tendency in romances is for too many authors to be riding the instant lusting train at the same time as the "in" thing.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 4708

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:02 pm    Post subject: Re: The trouble with lust-thinking Reply with quote

NoirFemme wrote:
Yeah, sure, the hero and heroine lay eyes on one another and are attracted, but how am I supposed to believe that this is some deep, abiding, unique connection when the things they find desirable are things most men would generally find desirable about a woman and vice versa? Not to mention that it's usually written as though the hero and/or heroine have never, ever been this physically attracted to someone.
.


This has long been my issue with the mental lusting, some authors tend to dwell in this head space more than others.

Linda
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Lillian Sulivan



Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 237

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
But isn't it realistic too?


Absolutely, as is instantly and madly in lust couples parting ways later. (digs in purse) Here's a quarter - would somebody play 'Jackson' on that jukebox for me?.

The Tex Avery thing is fun as an opener, but 300-400 pages later I want to close a book on more substance.

Best,
Lilly
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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 798

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's the same problem there is with generic sex scenes. They're generic. They could be in any book because they could be used for any characters. They're just filler to give a short story the page count of a novel.
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1475
Location: America

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
But isn't it realistic too? I doubt that either lust or even interest can occur unless something about the other attracts, what the very early romantics called a blow to the eye. I don't think human beings--men or women--even try to get acquainted with someone unless something catches the eye--not the mind, but the eye. And I think Donne was probably right when he stated that the body is the book of love.


Eliza wrote:

While I agree that constant mental lusting and love at first sight in so many books can get to be tiresome and boring, I also agree with Dick's point--something about the other person often "catches" you, whether it's eyes, a smile, or just something that's often hard to name but you know it when it happens. I'm not saying that love can't build without instant attraction but I know too many real life instances of that "draw" to another person for no perceivable reason, as if they "recognized" one another. I guess it depends on how well an individual author carries it off OR if the tendency in romances is for too many authors to be riding the instant lusting train at the same time as the "in" thing.


Yes, something about the person catches your eye, but in romances with lust-thinking, that "something" is rarely unique to the character--or to the character doing the observing. It's always "OMG, look at his abs and shoulders...slurp, drool, lust" or "OMG, she has long, flowing hair and a great rack". Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

The first time, okay, but the subsequent times where the H/H interact? Where is the "she has a cute laugh" or "I love the way he pulls on his ear when he's nervous"? When I think about attributes that make me do a double-take, it's rarely just about how a guy looks.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I was actually thinking of only the first meeting, so I agree that if in every encounter the same material is repeated, silliness sets in. Although, perhaps in subsequent encounters, on the first sighting of the one whom one is interested in--or lusts over--those same attributes might draw one's eye as they did the first time. I think that, even after those same attributes have been modified or changed by time, one's eye in the mind might stilll "see" the originals, especially if there is affection.
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pickyreader



Joined: 29 Sep 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NoirFemme I am so happy you have touched on this topic and I am grateful that there have been nods of agreement and a few other points made. I too agree with everything stated above and have a few comments of my own:

Firstly I abhor plotlines along the lines of: " X is a famous beauty yet she has a problem (whatever that may be). Luckily Y will show up and save the day. They will lust after eachother (and at some point that lust will transform into love, the how I leave up to the author's imagination which sometimes fails miserably) and they will live happily ever after".

I'm sorry but, will they? How can you be so sure when all you have managed to build is passion? Love is so much deeper and passion fades. You need to have a firm foundation that will withstand the passage of time and habit.

Secondly, I am never convinced of a hero's genuine feelings of love for the heroine when she is awestrickingly beautiful. It is so easy to mistake passion and desire for love and from the heroine's point of view, how can she be so sure her man can make that distinction?

I think a perfect solution to this lust/love dilemma is the plot device of arranged marriage/marriage of convenience. Here we have the obvious happy ending of two people who have been thrown together unwillingly. We know they're going to fall deeply in love BUT we have that special advantage of seeing how it happens. The h&H are usually not attracted to eachother in the beginning and resent eachother for their unwanted marital circumstances. Also, most authors make sure that the heroine is not a striking beauty but an average looking woman. The hero most often is a rake and a goodlooking one at that but anyway...(we must not forget that the targeted readers are women so they have to find him attractive to keep reading).

True, as dick said, there must be some attraction otherwise it would be very difficult for their relationship to blossom into a romantic one and will forever remain a friendship. Could you imagine developing feelings of physical desire for your best friend of the opposite sex? I can't! Because I am not attracted to him.
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