I’ve been enjoying literary agent Ann Byle’s “I’m Annoyed by Christian Fiction” series of posts, starting here (be sure to read the whole series–there are some things she likes about it, too!). As annoyances, she names things like too many “zings” per page. A “zing” is when the hero admires the heroine’s alabaster skin and the heroine admires the hero’s rippling biceps–some zings are needed to establish attraction, but too many can be like too much pepper in the soup. A little goes a long way.
Another phenomenon Ann mentions is the “I’m fine” syndrome, where characters toss off deep lacerations, lack of food or sleep for days, etc., with a glib “I’m fine,” reminding me of Monty Python’s Black Knight: “‘Tis but a flesh wound.” (stagger, stagger).
Several readers joined the chorus, expressing fatigue with heroines who are impossibly beautiful, heroes who are invariably handsome, and damsels who forget to eat when under stress. (Some people do lose their appetite. Others rip through entire boxes of graham crackers smeared with Nutella. Don’t ask).
I have a few pet peeves of my own, including loving and loyal best friends who appear in exactly one scene and are never heard from again, simply to advance some plot point, and children who remain unflaggingly adorable, winsome, and charming for an unrealistic 24/7.
Anyway, I was relieved to see that You’re the Cream in My Coffee does not annoy in the ways Ann and her followers mention.
*Lead character Marjorie is not impossibly beautiful. She’s not even particularly slim. Her hair tends to frizz, and she laments that the straight, boyish fashion silhouette of the 1920s does not work well with her curves.
*The man she’s engaged to marry is good-looking, but he wears spectacles, so his vision is not 20/20, so he’s not an unflawed specimen. And The Other Guy has a rugged battle scar down one side of his face. Think Ross Poldark.
(Okay, you can stop thinking Ross Poldark. Really. No, seriously, stop. Earth to Sparkler! Earth to Sparkler!)
*Yes, there are some zings in my book. But not three per page. And the thing that Marjorie most appreciates about her true love is not his biceps or his green eyes, but the way he–
AHA! You thought I was going to give something away, didn’t you? Not a chance.
What annoys you about the fiction you read (Christian or general)? What do you like best about it?
You’re the Cream in My Coffee is available in Sandpoint, Idaho, at Sandpoint Super Drug, Vanderford’s, the Bonner County History Museum Gift Shop, and the Corner Bookstore, and in Coeur d’Alene at the Sower Bookstore and the Well-Read Moose. Support the little guy! In many cases you can order online or by phone. If all else fails, of course, there’s always that big South American river.