Monday, March 28, 2011

Pet Hate: Confetti words in Fiction!

Why do romance novelists’ and chick-litters cast the word “Rueful” throughout their novels in like manner to that of confetti at a wedding? It’s a word oft used as though it performs some magical rite to proclaim a novelist a true romance novelist because they’ve used rueful as often as possible within their novel!

Oxdord Engllish Dictionary definition Rueful: expressing sorrow, genuine or humorously affected

Ruefully: adv
Ruefulness: n

Roget’s Thesaurus: Rueful in reference to -
distressing adj
regretting: adj
be penitent: vb

This horrid needless word is my pet hate. It’s caused me to scream. Yell arrrrhhhh countless times, and it’s had me throw the occasional romance novel at a wall.

Taking all the above into account why would a hero/ine smile ruefully when indulging in a romantic kiss, and prior to the kiss no reference to regret in delay of expressing passion. Equally there is no reference to sorrow for any reason. Neither is s/he penitent for his/her action.

Now, if a hero/ine is taking leave (regrettable circumstance and or conscience pricked) yep, hurrah, slip in a rueful smile by all means.

The same hurrah goes for a hero/ine if regretting lost opportunity of a little romancing: whatever! And, another hurrah goes for rueful character expression in relation to humorous slant on regret etc.

Throughout many romance transcripts few “rueful” come remotely within context to character thought and expression, so why is that beastly little word there?

Please, please, please I say to all romance writers, let a reader see you’ve embraced the joy of extended vocabulary, and icky words like Rueful (within context) are few and far between.

Also, I wish authors of historical romances would check to see if specific words were in use during their chosen era. A good dictionary will have circa: roughly the date the word came into usage.

Grump over with! ;)


  1. You've sent me rushing to check my novels for the dreaded word and - oops, there it is. But only 4 times in 72,000 words, and always with an element of regret, either genuine or humorous. Hope that's acceptable??

  2. Hi Paula,

    4 times in 72,000 wds is hardly noticeable! ;)

    What gets me is the English language is so vast and has glorious words, yet some authors cling to familiar ones like tattered slippers because they feel so comfy!


  3. We all have those pet words we love, don't we? Although, I'm glad to say, rueful is not one of mine. Thanks for sharing, Francine!

  4. Yikes. When I get home I'm going to check my WIP for the word. I know I've used it at least once, but in my defense, I do believe I've used it in the proper context! :)

    Great post, Francine.

  5. Okay, I checked:

    In my WIP I've used it 3 times in the 42,000 words I have so far, and in the novella I submitted to Wild Rose I used it 2 times in 22,000 words.

    Not too bad, I guess...

  6. LOL, Debra - maybe we'll all be scrubbing the word rueful from our stories from now on!

  7. Hee hee girls, I'm a "just" and "quite" and "but" fan, and always have to do a find/search to see how many damn times I've slipped up with all three! :o


  8. 'Just' don't mention 'just' please - that's one I have to search for and delete more times than I care to admit!