Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Crack Attack: It's Feeling Crowded In Here (a.k.a. One Too Many Characters)

Recently, as I was reading Irresistible by Talia Carmichael, it occurred to me that there can be a few too many characters in a book. Irresistible had characters coming out the woodwork like nymphomanic ants. About 65% of the way into the book I stopped trying to keep track of everyone and that's when it hit me...well, a few things hit me.

1.) There is such a thing as overpopulation
Usually I'm the person who's saying the more the merrier but sometimes thinigs can get a little ridiculous. It's great for an author to throw secondary characters into the mix because no one lives in a bubble. What's not great is to give every person in town a part in the play, if you know what I mean. It starts to sound like a random story being told to me by a stranger on the train.

"So, then my friend's step-brother's cousin who is twice removed was talking to his friend's girlfriend's brother about their second aunt's dog-sitter's son who has play dates with the brother's cousin's half uncle's friend's daughter on Saturdays..."

At that point I've stopped trying to figure things out and have begun calling everyone who is not a main character Bob.

2.) How is it that everyone's related??!!
This one boggles my mind. I don't know if this really happens in smaller towns but it seems like the guys in Irresistible couldn't go two feet without bumping into someone with whom they shared DNA. It's must be a legend in town that about 35 years ago there was a band of four or five men who were brothers. They gathered women and proceeded to spread their copious amouths of seed until they had populated a small town. I understand that authors want to create a sense of community but, trust me on this one, friendship is absolutely fine. Not everyone has to have sprouted from the same set of balls.

3.) Where are the women and the straight men?
I completely understand that when people read M/M they want to read about gay love. One thing though is that gays and straights and women do in fact socialize. *GASP* What is this you say, Laddie? Blasphemy!! I am so baffled by books where almost every character is a gay man. I'm even more baffled by books where everyone suddenly turns gay. I like variety in my characters and if there is no variety I will quickly become bored with the whole setup. Does this happen when I read straight romance? Actually, I do become bored in that situation too. Variety people! Variety!

So, those are the things that Irresistible made me think about. I'm hoping that the nympho ant attack that is this series slows down a bit but if it doesn't? Well, I'll just have to stop reading because there's no way I can keep track.


  1. Yes, I totally agree with you on this (although I haven't read this particular book specifically). The third one is one of my biggest pet peeves. When everyone is gay, everyone they know is gay, and if they aren't gay already, they will be when their book comes along.

    I realize it is an issue w/mm stories b/c when you write a series, you tend to have folks who know each other. But at least throw in some friends and coworkers who aren't gay men to add a little diversity of character.

    1. Diversity! That's the word I was looking for!

  2. It's the laziest attempt I've ever seen at trying to get characters set up for spin-offs. How can EVERYONE be gay? I mean HOW?

    Also the thing with spin off that make them awesome is that the characters are ones that we know a bit, not just names on a page.

    1. Good point, Laura! When you know them a bit then you're like "oh! I wanna read that guy's story and spend more time in his head!"