I’m not sure this is a universal thing or just my own preferences/tastes, but I thought I’d share some things that drive me crazy in novels/stories. I plan to do this over the course of several blogs. If anything, it’s an opportunity to feed my hedonistic vanity by means of venting, which I love to do. It’s also an opportunity to share your pet peeves in novels, too. I’d love to hear them.
Story Pet Peeve #1: The Unrealistic, Fairytale Guy
I’m thinking specifically of the movie, Sweet Home Alabama, with Reese Witherspoon. If you’re a woman who likes romances, you’ve seen it. If you’re like me, a guy whose woman likes romances, you’ve also seen it. The ending of this movie ticks me off for the same reason most women seem to love it. If you haven’t seen the movie, be warned there are minor spoilers ahead.
At the end of the movie, Witherspoon is walking down the aisle with one man, while the other man she’s been fooling around with during a trip to her home town interrupts. He professes his love for her and she turns to the man she’s about to marry and says (in so many words) she chooses the other guy. This man who’s just been completely humiliated looks at her with understanding eyes and says (again, in so many words) it’s OK and gives their relationship his blessing.
Hogwash! This is one of the worst endings to a romance I’ve ever seen, and it might be important to note that I do not hate romances. In fact, there are many I’m quite fond of (A good story is a good story, no matter the genre). I mean, come ON! One of many things is happening here: first, the other guy is a horrible, horrible person. If he really loved her he would respect her wishes to marry the other guy, who isn’t a jerk or anything—he’s actually a decent guy. Second, Witherspoon’s character is also a horrible, horrible person. She was dishonest and unfair to the man she agreed to marry, and fixes this in the worst of ways—by humiliating him at the last moment. And you might be thinking, “Well, if she doesn’t really love him and just figures it out then, what is she supposed to do?” Simple—not make a scene. Pull him aside; have a private moment. Yes, it will still be humiliating and perhaps there’s nothing to do about that, but do you have to put his humiliation on stage like that? Both she and the other guy were incredibly selfish, yet they’re painted as the heroes of this tale. Third, if a person acts all nonchalant about being stood up like this, a few things are happening. Either he never really loved her at all and is happy to ‘dodge the bullet,’ he’s lying to save face and he wants to murder both of these awful people (and who’d blame him), or he’s not a real person but a holographic computer program designed by space aliens to conduct an experiment about the nature of love among humans. What happens in this movie is not real and not even believable, but because we are a society that loves the convenient, ‘everything’s gumdrops and rainbows’ kind of story, this is what appeals to people. The problem with this, however, is that some people try to live their lives this way, and these are the ones who often end up in unhappy relationships.