Thursday, August 8, 2013

SUGAR, SPICE, & SASS: BEING A ROMANCE HEROINE




 
I'm the tough parent.

(This seems off topic, I know, but bear with me.)

I love my kids and they love me (and their dad), but when it comes to pushing boundaries their sense of self-preservation kicks in beautifully. Some nonsense cannot be borne. Mr. Author is far more easy going (and as a result once had his forehead impulsively sandpapered--don't ask--as his reward).

This is why I bust a gut laughing when oh-so-superior critics suggest (hell, most come right out and say it) that romance heroines are thinly veiled dopplegangers of their creators. Mine certainly aren't. They might share some interests and I've given them some of my experiences, but they aren't me.

Take Jena, the female lead of Cocktails and Dreams. She shares rowing and my love of comic books and movies (and that wet T-shirt thing ;D), but she puts up with WAY more emo bullshit from the gorgeous Nicholas than I ever would. She's kind, a bit naive, and forgiving to a fault. I'd like her as a friend (and kind of want to mother her, now that I think of it). But I'm more of a Hold-a-Grudgy Mc Grudgerson (and always have been) than she would ever be.

Abby, the heroine of my upcoming book (*SQUEE!*), The Art of Appreciation, is closer to my age and temperament than Jena. She's not overly tied to parents, has lived a bit, and has a kick ass friend who I love (I see me and my Hetero Life Mate in some of their exchanges-Hi Sandy!). She shares my sense of humor (and also a couple of experiences)... but still not me. Besides the fact that I've never had an affair with an artist/surfer (ENVY), I am a lot more forthright than Abby is. Handwringing over what to do isn't my style (that would be staring at the ceiling at 3am, plotting. But that's another blogpost.)
 
Let's admit it: not many of we women are half as forgiving and willing to put up with bull as the average female lead in a romance novel. In our real lives, we don't have the time or energy to laboriously deconstruct the nuances of every relationship we have. Even when we have questions about "what THAT meant" in a conversation, we often don't have the leisure to stop dead in the water and ruminate, stew and anguish. Most women I know will flat out ASK, or decide to let it go. Or they'll walk away. If a romance novel was real life, most would end within the first chapter or two.

Here's my theory: women read (and write) romance novels to have the ability to stew, fret, muse, deconstruct (where's that thesaurus?), and generally marinate in the dramas we can't abide in our every day lives. Romance novels (and romance novel heroines) are BIGGER than real life. Romance heroines (even those that are 'realistic') aren't supposed to be real. They say and do things we WISH we had the time, energy, or sass to say or do. They allow us to live in a way that's not in sync with real life, and the best of them can do it while holding down a job (come on--don't you sometimes wonder why the hell their bosses put up with their absences/drama?). Even the most real-life based stories aren't REAL, amirite? 

As a writer, I'm most comfortable writing within the realm of the possible and the believable, but let's be honest: if real life was all a reader wanted, no one would read 'women's literature' (or much of anything else). So I'll keep on letting my 'realistic' heroines stew, fret, forgive, sass. and bear nonsense in a way that I often can't. I'll live vicariously through them. The reward is a happy ending that I can rely on.

 

 


2 comments:

  1. Welcome back! Great post and congrats on your upcoming release. I think many writers put a little of themselves into the heroines but of course it's not an exact replica because that would be a memoir! My psychologist heroine sleeps with her client, and I for SURE will not do that. :-)

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  2. Too true---why would anyone want to read a story that was pure real-life? The beauty of fiction writing is that we get to create real-life PLUS. And I totally agree that writing is a great mechanism for getting to explore some of the relathionshipnal (it's a word) nuances that we just speed by in our real lives.

    So excited about the Art of Appreciation!

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