Paying for those Dirty Deeds
*Be warned, there’s some harsh language and made up offensive words in this post.*
We have gone over all of the elements of romance and you should be happy with using your newfound skill in picking them out of your favorite stories. You should also be able to put together a pretty good outline of what you want your own story to be. Which is great!
Now, I have one more to throw at you for good measure. An Element 0.5, sort of.
There are many romances that have a hero that fits squarely into the bad boy category. That means they tend to be a bit bad and can act like complete turds towards the heroine. I mean, they pull bitch (or mitch) moves, can be called jerks by just about everyone, and we love to hate them. When I read through romances and find that the bad boy hero never apologizes for his dickiness (can that be a word?), I feel a bit ripped off. I know that in life, a quick “boy bye” would be said, once our business was done, and walked off. If he never acknowledges he was wrong, how could I figure he would ever do any better? It would still be in my head and I wouldn’t be able to push past that issue to have my happily ever after. So, it would be time for me to go on the hunt for some other lucky man to give my affections.
In a good romance, the moment he realizes he hasn’t been treating the heroine right is the moment things change. This usually comes up around the time of the Declaration element. It can be peppered throughout the story even if he hasn’t acknowledged the issue but his character growth demands it. By the time of the Recognition element, he may not even know how to resolve all of the internal/external conflicts that are present in the story. Which is fine, but the grovel will just have to happen to achieve his character arc which will allow him to have his HEA. If not, by the end, readers will be mentally screaming for the heroine to run for the hills. Cause some mutated, man-beast would pose as a better option.
The grovel can be overblown with him down on his knees, hands clasped, begging for forgiveness from her and ultimately us as the readers. It can also be as light as taking the time to help her with her hair when he wouldn’t be bothered with it before. The amount or depth of his dirty deeds determines how much change he has to experience throughout the story and the amount of groveling he has to do to earn the heart of his love.
In a romance graphic novel or any romance for that matter, we can’t leave the grovel out if one of our main’s is a complete ass. This extra element isn’t just for the hero either. The heroine can be just as asinine as any bad girl and will have to do the grovel at some point. Restitution has to be made, no matter who it is, to make the relationship healthy.
There are some deeds that are just too dirty for the heroine or readers to wipe through the top layer of crusted-on crap. Rape, torture or starvation as punishment, willing abuse in any form, imprisonment in deplorable conditions, would be a few of the irredeemable deal-breakers for me. There is no amount of character development that could fix these issues for me either.
The imprisonment one could possibly pass if it is done at the beginning of the story and the hero and heroine haven’t met as of yet. Maybe. Oh, the torture one could be covered if it was a part of both of their professions and made them super hot for each other. I don’t see that one working out too well in novels unless it’s pulled off like it was in the Scandal TV show. I have no idea how that one made me think it was a good way to move into an awkward yet believable relationship.
Can you think of any unforgivable acts done by the heroine or hero in romances? Did they even try to grovel?