Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pet Peeves and Faves in Sci-Fi Romance by Mattie Dunman

Recently, I started a discussion on a Goodreads forum asking readers and authors what they loved and hated about SFR, mainly to help me avoid some pitfalls while writing my new book. The responses I got were incredibly illuminating, so I thought I’d share some of what I learned.

When it came to pet peeves, weak and whiny heroines stood out as number one. It comes as no surprise that SFR readers want a leading lady who can hold her own without complaining, whether through her unique abilities or pure grit and determination. There was a caveat: the heroine’s abilities or powers shouldn’t be unlimited or abruptly change. For instance, if she starts out with the ability to read minds, at 75% in the book she can’t suddenly develop the ability to shoot electricity from her eyeballs. So, yeah, readers want an extraordinary heroine, but one with vulnerabilities and realistic growth throughout the story.

Another annoyance was the heroine’s debilitating attraction to the hero. According to the comments, sizzling chemistry is all well and good, but not when the heroine is incapable of running away from a horde of ravening, murderous aliens without also obsessing over the cuteness of her love interest’s butt.

Battered heroines suddenly wanting crazy monkey sex was another issue; if she’s just been beaten, or recovered from a coma, or, most particularly, has been sexually assaulted, readers seem to think she might want to take breather before getting her freak on.

Regarding world-building, readers asked for aliens that look like aliens and believable science without being bashed over the head with excruciating detail. The use of deus ex-machina was universally despised; readers asked for a logical build-up to the climax, and definitely no loose plot threads. Setting up a sequel is all well and good, but there seems to be a distinct antipathy toward cliffhangers and dropped plot points.

So what do readers love? Characters. Almost every comment referred to strong, likable heroines and heroes with a believable connection. 3rd person POV seemed to be popular as well; readers want to hear from both the hero and heroine in equal parts, which I found interesting, since I predominantly write in 1st person.

They loved complex, original worlds that leave room for new stories, kick-ass heroines who don’t wait to be saved, and heroes with alpha tendencies (but aren’t copy-catted Christian Grays).

Finally, the most frequently mentioned comment: good editing. Lots of readers will put the book down if the errors are too frequent; while most said they would give the author’s next book a chance if the typos were at a minimum.

So there you have it...a little market research on SFR. If you’d like to see it for yourself, the link is below. Thanks, and please check out my latest release, Woman of Silk and Stone, available on Amazon and Smashwords!



  1. Exactly what I like to find in the female mcs.

  2. Gee, those are my pet peeves, too, when I'm reading any book. Thanks for sharing your "research." Very helpful for us writers.


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