Thursday, April 03, 2008

In which Selah has an epiphany right before your very eyes.

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way...
("Bitch," Meredith Brooks, Shelly Peiken)

Angela T's got a great post today at Romancing the Blog about some of the differences between romance heroines and urban fantasy heroines -- which I would categorize more as "female protagonists," since "heroine" (while a good shorthand term) tends to put me in mind of a feisty (shudder) redhead locked in a losing battle with Mr. I'm-Too-Alpha-For-My-Shirt for the prize of Who Gets To Be On Top Every Damned Time, Forever-and-Ever, Amen.

Anyway. I prefer to write heroines who aren't just placeholders for the reader who wants nothing more than the hormone rush of pretending to be the owner of the girly bits after which the hero lusts. And I like to read characters who are fully-realized individuals in and of themselves, and not just foils for the dark, tortured, INTERESTING hero.

I keep hearing tales of editors telling authors that their heroines are "too strong," and "not nice enough" and "unlikeable," which seems to be shorthand for "the average reader won't be able to relate to a woman with real flaws and an actual personality."

What thoroughly insulting bullshit. Not to mention...hello? Lilith Saintcrow's Dante Valentine?
Jacqueline Carey's Phaedra, from her Kushiel series? Lynn Viehl's...well, every heroine in her Darkyn series, basically?

Wait. None of those books fall strictly into the romance genre, do they?


Great. Now I have to rethink my entire career. Like I didn't have enough to do today, with the whole being-a-bitch thing. - Romance of Dubious Virtue


Blogger Eva Gale said...

You're hearing about editors saying that? Really? That's freakin scary.

4/03/2008 1:02 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

That thing about heroines with flaws -- I've heard it for years and years. editors at conferences have announced that heroes can get away with any sort of flawed behavior but readers don't easily forgive heroines. It's one of those TRUTHS.

And Feisty is yowza-fine compared to spunky. Ick.

4/04/2008 10:58 AM  
Blogger Lynn Viehl said...

If you want everyone to like your heroines, make sure they wear a chastity belt, never use profanity, love animals and small children, and have two utterly devoted and equally idiotic sisters (on the sisters, one should be tomboyish and gruff, one should be drop-dead gorgeous and tragically misunderstood, and your should be semi-autobiographical, especially if you have a highly inflated opinion of yourself.)

Oh, and let them have a nice job like delivering flowers.

I collect angry hate-mail about my female protagonists from uptight romance readers. My favorite is this one who insisted that decent hetero women never ever ever even *think* about having sex with other women, because that would mean they were dirty evil Sapphos -- yeah, Sapphos -- and of course, going straight to hell for it. She had lists of books I had to read on the subject, scripture to study AND footnotes on all the stuff she quoted. Made me wonder if she had a bad shower experience at summer Christ camp.

4/04/2008 2:35 PM  
Blogger Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Honey, it took you this long to have the epiphany?

Do the many, many, many rejection letters I've collected on various women's fic/romance manuscripts not mean anything?

You know, like the one that stated that a strong woman like Isabel would never, never, never go for a mellow beta guy like Josh—that perhaps she needed to be toned down a bit and that he needed to be a bit more like, *pauses to shudder at the memory* Ashton Kutcher?

(Right. Because HE'S soooooo alpha. *shudders again*)

Darling, darling, darling... you already KNEW this.

*prepares nice cuppa*

4/04/2008 3:23 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Eva~ Yes. Heard editors say that. See Caridad/Barb's comment below for extra added authority and shit.

Kate~ I reject your reality and substitute my own, Goddammit.

Lynn~ Sapphos? What, does the 'L' word burn her tongue?

"bad shower experience at summer Christ camp"


Barb~ Yes, I know. Yes. I KNOW. Okay, I GET it. Moving ON NOW...

4/04/2008 7:28 PM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

You know I picked up The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd and it's ---so what all those Those readers need to read.

4/04/2008 9:54 PM  
Blogger FerfeLaBat said...

Scarlett O'Hara.

I figured it's already been done and sold millions, if any editor had objected I was ready with: Scarlett O'Hara

The novel version, not the movie. Readers want it. They wanted it then and they want it now.

4/07/2008 5:33 PM  

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