Friday, September 26, 2008

Is M/M Becoming Predictable?

I was cruising through the various blogs and forums that are a daily stop for me in thw mornings when Mrs. Giggles caught my eye in her intro to a self-pubbed book someone recommended she read. This isn't the first time she's said something similar to this and it got me to wondering what the rest of your out there in m/m land think of this comment:

Perhaps this reflects more on me than on this book, but the story makes me realize that maybe it's time I take a short break from gay romances. The whole "pretty boys with lots of angst" formula is wearing thin on me.

I have not read the particular book that this remark inspired but I wonder if she's referring to what I end to call the "OMG I'm not gay" plot point. I've seen it a lot and it always tends to bug me when that becomes a main point of conflict.

I'm sure it's a very real issue gays and lesbians face when discovering who they are inside and what they want in a partner but should fiction follow to the tune that it becomes predictable or formulaic?

10 comments:

Silapa Jarun said...

I think m/m enjoyed by women in the west is still in its infancy stages and struggling to define itself by either adopting the uke/seme model from Japan or using the "issues" vehicle.

Fear of not passing the yaoi purity test has discouraged authors from writing seme/seme material or uke trying to dominate the seme. Worst still is to make every uke physicially weak or becoming the "heroine with a penis in distress" syndrom. I'd like to see ukes who are very masculine and not the angsty virgin seduced by an seme.

A good way to attract positive attention is to plea for a tolerant society in their works. This is a good thing and I'm not against this, however it starts off with: young man is afraid he's gay, he rejects his feelings, he becomes a victim of oppresion, he finds an older partner who helps him transition to acceptance [insert HEA].

Where is the story about the unoppressed homosexual? There are also some works in the general fiction realm where the detective happens to be gay but the "issue" is not the heart of the story.

Authors may develop more variety in their plotlines by reading m/m from around the world and study how other cultures convey these complex narratives or even take a dive into GLBT fiction for members of that community.

While m/m for women is different from m/m for homosexuals I think we have alot to learn from authors writing on the other side of the fence.

Silapa Jarun said...

Sorry about the typos, my keyboard is "skipping" today. (-__-)

Elle Parker said...

I think a lot of authors are concerned about being called to the carpet for being unrealistic if they leave out that issue. Which is unfortunate, because there's plenty of realism to be had without that.

Having said that, I still find that I enjoy the stories of men, especially the older ones, finally coming to terms with their sexuality. (There's a limit to the amount of angst I'll put up with, but I do like the general idea)

Amanda Young said...

I would say some of the themes for m/m are very predictable, but then again, so are the majority of m/f stories.

Barbara Sheridan said...

I would say some of the themes for m/m are very predictable, but then again, so are the majority of m/f stories.

Agreed but then I think a lot of romance readers may dismiss and pass by such "predictable" m/f tales as simply being more of the same old same old.

I'd hate to see that happen to m/m especially at this fairly early stage of the game.

Anonymous said...

There are only so many plots around. Authors of m/m face the same challenges of finding ways of putting new spins on old plots and creating engaging, true-to-life characters that readers can root for and fall in love with as do authors of m/f face. If authors are not writing from their heart and only writing for market trends and trying to catch the new wave then it will inevitably show in their writing—whether it’s m/m or m/f—and come off as predictable.

Gracie

JenB said...

I agree with Amanda's comment.

Fortunately for bored m/f readers, there is an unlimited supply of m/f romances. If one story or one formula gets old, it's really easy to find another one that suits better or fits our expectations.

There's nowhere near as much m/m in the market, so when m/m readers get burned out, they feel as though they have nowhere else to go. When I get burned out on m/m, I pretty much have to take a break from the entire genre.

What I've been noticing lately is that authors are tending to "copy" one another without realizing it (especially within critique circles and groups of authors that share an editor/proofreader). Authors that really don't know anything about *being* gay are writing gay romance, and a lot of them are basing their own stories on other stories they've read because they can't base their stories on experience.

Then, suddenly, every book that comes out over the next couple of months is either a mystery romance about a beta geek and an alpha law enforcement officer, an angsty May-December story about a teenager and a 30-year-old, or a best friends "I'm only gay for you" story.

OR...even worse...we suddenly get a batch of romances that all feature one recurring element that no one has actually ever heard of in real life. (My example here is American authors writing about their American characters tying off condoms, which is a markedly NON-American practice. That one has been the subject of lengthy discussions on a couple of blogs lately.)

I've read somewhere between 150-200 m/m romances in the past 12 months, and I've had to take several breaks because after about 10 books, I feel as though I'm reading the same recycled story over and over.

I dread the inevitable influx of amateur-authored cop/nerd light-on -the-romance mysteries that I know have already been spawned by the release of a certain m/m writing guide. At least two dozen of them are probably in final wrap-up and pitching stages right now, just waiting for a publisher to bite.

Gracie said...

There are only so many plots around. Authors of m/m face the same challenges of finding ways of putting new spins on old plots and creating engaging, true-to-life characters that readers can root for and fall in love with as do authors of m/f face. If authors are not writing from their heart and only writing for market trends and trying to catch the new wave then it will inevitably show in their writing—whether it’s m/m or m/f—and come off as predictable.

Barbara Sheridan said...

"I'm only gay for you" story.

I personally like this angle much in the way that I like "Cinderella" or "Marriage of convenience" stories in m/f pairings.

JenB said...

barbara - I *love* this storyline. I love most of the m/m storylines, actually. I just think it's getting tough to keep them fresh.

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