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How Not To Meet Word Count

17 Jan 2011

A close friend was told last Monday that she has melanoma and it’s at least a stage two and most likely a stage three. It’s been a shitty, shitty week. She is barely twenty-four, has no family in the city, and hasn’t told her parents. Thus, unfortunately for her, I and another friend are her only supports until she breaks the news to her family. All we’ve been able to do is take her to doctor appointments, make her eat, and ensure she’s alone as little as possible. To say I feel entirely inadequate and powerless is an understatement.

While I was in the surgery waiting room on Friday afternoon, I needed some happy reading material and picked a category contemporary romance on my iPod Touch. It started off decently enough with likable protagonists and supporting characters and a simple plot with no murder or mayhem. There were no big misunderstandings or TSTL moments. The heat level was lukewarm, but I don’t read romance for the sex scenes. It was about two people meeting and falling in love.

Then in the last chapter, the story went to shit: the heroine was told she has cancer. WTF?!? The hero and heroine had declared their undying love and respect for each other in the prior chapter, then the author decides to throw THIS in? There was no hint of any illness in any of the preceding chapters. It was like the author reached the HEA, realized she hadn’t met word count, and, instead of adding another conversation, another date, or even another sex scene, tossed in a little drama to meet 50k and wring a few tears from her readers. Cancer was treated like a fucking afterthought. And since it’s not like there was any chance of the heroine not making a miraculous recovery in the saccharine epilogue, what was the fucking point? The author didn’t exactly use the book to further awareness of cancer because she devoted a whopping two paragraphs to how it affects the victim and her loved ones physically and emotionally. Un-fucking-believable.

While I occasionally enjoy cheap, emotional manipulation in my romance reading, what the author did in this book was insulting and wrong and makes me wonder what the hell her editor was thinking to let cancer be used to meet word count.

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