24 July, 2016

Please Stop Misusing This Word!

I pronounce it with the L, but whatever

A woman is at the club with some friends when she notices a guy staring at her, and he smiles.
Minutes later, the guy approaches the woman and asks if she'd like to dance.
The woman politely declines and the guy walks away.

Stalker stalking?


A woman is at the gym and a guy in another section notices her, makes eye contact, smiles, walks up to her and asks how she's doing, is she single, and would she like to go out sometime.
The woman smiles to be polite, says she's seeing someone right now, but thanks for the compliment.
The guy says No problem, he's getting together with some friends later on, and if she's interested, here's where the party is at.
He then leaves.

Stalker stalking?


A man on a bus/subway train/plane notices a woman seated nearby and is instantly attracted.
After summoning up his courage, he approaches the woman, asks her if she'd mind if he sits beside her -- or he asks her what she is reading -- whatever -- and the woman isn't interested in anything other than being left alone.
He senses the chilly reception and bows out with grace and a slightly wounded pride.

Stalker Stalking?


Flirting is not Stalking.

Ogling is not Stalking.

Whistling and/or cat-calling, while a lot of women would consider it sexist, is still not Stalking.

Applying ones best come-on line is not Stalking.

Asking a perfect stranger for a date is not Stalking.

And, even if they are not ones idea of Prince Charming or Botticelli beautiful, it still isn't Stalking.

A Stalker is obsessive.

A Stalker is determined.

A Stalker doesn't understand the word no or that they're being rejected.

A Stalker has built up a fantasy relationship in their head and acts it out in public.

A Stalker is someone who, after repeatedly being told no, continues to seek out, harass, and terrify their victim.

A Stalker does not consider his victim a victim any more than they consider their behavior as abnormal or terrifying.

online , A Stalker, even if it isn't derived of a sexual nature, will abuse their power to harass, malign, and destroy their victim(s).

The reason I bring this up is because A startling number of Romance novels I've already read have used/abused this term.

Enough times to warrant a rant post on the topic.

Most of us would agree that Stalker mentality is hardly romantic, but it does make for some interesting reading on the part of a sinister antagonist.

So, when I am reading the Protagonist's viewpoint in a Romance novel and he/she describes themself as being unintentionally stalker-ish, or they are worried that their interest will be misconstrued as being stalker-like, I groan.

Stop apologizing for showing interest in someone!

It isn't a sin and it certainly doesn't fall under the awful Stalker category of human behavior.

In all of the (above) scenario examples, it is possible for the person being approached to feel awkward, annoyed, and even angry about the unwanted attention.

It is also entirely true that the person doing the approaching feels as awkward and/or terrified to do the approaching as they might feel annoyed and/or angry after being rejected.

If they walk away and make no more attempts to garner your attention, it isn't Stalking.

Regardless of how the situation made either party feel.

It still isn't Stalking and no charges could or should be pressed against the initiator in any of the above scenarios.

When I read lines from a so-called romantic lead that are pensive for the wrong reasons, I start to deduct points.

The dashing Hero can start off as a 5, move up to an 8, and then quickly slide down to a 3 if he says or does anything wishy-washy or ultra-PC.

The heroine, too.

She can start off as a 4, work her way up to a 9, and then swiftly plummet to a 2 or even a 1 if she behaves or says anything that makes me think she's got a mental checklist that she relies heavily upon in public or sometimes even in private situations.

The way I see it, if the Lead is doubting their own character (the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual), then I am doubtful, too.

About their ability to make me care.

In my first novel (which I'm currently re-editing), I use the Stalker antagonist: a female obsessed with the male lead in the story.

She's erratic, impulsive, unpredictable, and dangerous.

Unhealthy Character Traits.

After having researched the topic for the story, I decided to have my H press charges, but with the insistence that she receive the mental help she desperately needs.

He's angry, annoyed, frustrated, and yes, a bit scared of the woman.

He's also convinced that with psychiatric help while incarcerated, she can be treated for and overcome her mental illness.

However, the H pursues the h in the story, too.

Just not in a way that can remotely be described as being Stalker-like.

He's determined but slightly awkward in his attempts to turn the h's head.

He's anxious to get with the h but clearly understands the boundary lines she's set.

He's mature and behaves with enough civility that it isn't necessary for him to have to explain himself to the h or anyone else.

Healthy Character Traits.

He's not going to apologize for showing an interest in the h because I won't let him.

And neither should you.

Bringing romance back to a Romance Novel is a good goal to set, and it involves devising romantic scenarios of blossoming love that eventually lead to consummation.

Things like pursuing (yep), wooing, sweet-talking, complimenting, hand holding, playing footsies, showing appreciation and displaying affection for the pursued.

All of which are normal, natural, and healthy aspects of a budding romantic relationship.

And none of which can or should be misconstrued as being a Stalker.


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