When the Going Gets Weird

Okay, I’ll admit: I’m not moving as quickly through The Head-Heart Debate as I would like. I’m getting distracted by a couple of things. One is a satirical urban fantasy series that I’m working on as E.G. Stone (this series actually has a deadline and such that I need to worry about, so it gets to be important). Another is the fact that my brain randomly sprouts ideas for stories that I set aside nearly a year ago because it needed reworking and I wasn’t in the right space to rework it. Am I in the right space, now? No! My brain still comes up with ideas. Then, there’s the ultimate distraction: romance novels. I’ve read about five in the last three or four days.

All of this is to say that I haven’t gotten to the part of my romance novel where the main characters get to have any meaningful interaction. I’ve had the meet-cute (involving a fire suppressant system, a broken heel and some stairs), the desire from Dax, our hero, to meet up with Andy, our heroine, again. Andy is a little more reluctant. But, as Dax and Andy don’t actually have any real consistent daily conections to draw upon, I had to get creative to be sure they get in touch.

Initially, I had Dax call upon his friend Titus (who owns a high-tech security company) to help uncover Andy’s contact information (which, admittedly, is easy to find as she works for herself and needs people to contact her for work). I then thought that he would woo her by text message into meeting up again. It was right at this point that I realised that is actually SUPER CREEPY and totally unacceptable for a stand-up good guy. Very stalkery.

So what did I do?

I had Dax get Andy’s contact info from Titus. When Dax proceeded to text Andy, however, I had her friends call him out on it and there was general ribbing involved while Dax apologised for being unintentionally creepy. There will be further vetting by Andy’s friends to make sure that Dax is sincere, and just an idiot, rather than stalkery.

I’m not trying to spoil the story. Actually, this all happens within the first three chapters, so I feel perfectly alright telling you about it. The point here is that I’ve read too many romance novels–contemporarily written ones, too, not ones from a time when some of this behaviour was more commonly accepted–that have situations where the main character is being creepy and stalkery and not listening to the love interest’s ability to say “No!”. This is unacceptable.

Can we try, as a community, to make things a little less creepy and a little more on the side of acceptable behaviours when engaging in relationship activities? I almost fell into the trap myself, so I understand. You want to do whatever it takes to get your two love interests together. But there are lines. Even as writers, who can make up whatever we want, there are lines. And this was one that I wasn’t willing to cross.

So my characters will have to navigate an apology before they can even meet properly. It will simply make the story more interesting. And not creepy.