Monday, 28 January 2013

More Than Just a Wallflower

Thanks to Meg's latest post, I've spent the last few days thinking about heroines and what makes them worthwhile in my eyes. Looks are definitely important but back on my own blog I've already had a rant about that so I'm not going to get on my soapbox about that again. I'll get up on it for an entirely different matter.
I shall be standing up here for the rest of the post.
 Why is it that so many modern heroines do so little?

Now don't get me wrong, most of the modern heroines I've read have jobs that take up almost all their waking hours, either because they are career driven to the point of obsession or because they've got someone dependent on them like a young child or aged parent.

But what do these girls 'do' in their spare time, should they actually ever have it?

When I put down a contemporary book I'm always left with the impression that the heroine is going to cut down their hours and spend it with the hero of their happily-ever-after.

But doing what exactly?
Let's take this particular hobby as a given, ok?

Alright, other than that, because let's face facts, no matter what a novel might lead you to believe, no man can really to provide such entertainment twenty four hours a day for the rest of his life.

So are accomplishments and hobbies just unfashionable right now? And I mean hobbies, I don't mean where some enterprising heroine has turned her hobby into a successful business, I mean someone acquiring specific skills or talents. Are the only allowable hobbies to be socialising with friends? What's so damned wrong with a girl being able to knit her man a scarf in the evening, or is it only acceptable if the fore mentioned scarf is going to be used as part of some deviant act later on?

Naughty naughty.
Being fortunate enough to write historical romances my heroines are almost forced to have hobbies since seeking their own career is pretty much a no-no, a talent with an embroidery needle or paintbrush is pretty much all they can offer other than their outward appearance.

But I do worry about the happily-ever-afters of the contemporary romances. Is a happy ever after really believable if the only thing the couple have in common is an attraction for each other?

Jess Baker


  1. Well, I think it is, in part, the difference between the genres. Historicals are longer and women in those days, that's pretty much ALL they did. Contemporary novels are usually shorter, and they move quicker, with much less room for things like hobbies. Historicals tend to be a bit slower.

    That being said... you have a point. We need to write more well rounded characters. BUT... opposites attract really can work. My husband and I are complete polar opposites in quite a lot of ways. We spend more time doing separate things than we do together. We actually have to find things to do together, and have most recently settled on movie night. He's a car guy and spends most of his time either under one or talking about being under one. He has no clue why I like to read and will never pick up one of my books or come with me to any writer's retreats. He jokingly calls what I write "smut." He's a talker, very extroverted, and he makes friends easily and with everyone. I'm exactly the opposite. I'm quiet and shy and my idea of a good day is when a book grabs me so much I've spent an entire day reading it. But somehow, it works. We've been together for sixteen years.

    But I suppose the point is...maybe we should be putting more of this into our books. I'm reading Laura Kaye's One Night with a Hero and I"m seeing what I'm doing wrong in mine--detail. More detail like what you're talking about.

    Thought provoking post!

  2. I think sometimes showing those details give the reader a chance to see why the other party find them attractive. I don't share a lot of hobbies with my husband but I admire and appreciate the ones he does have. He can spend a lot of time under the car (fortunate since our cars are a bit ropey) and when I get the opportunity I enjoy watching him doing it. Even allowing the hero to see the heroine with her nose in a book can be endearing and the fact one party can be free to go and socialise while the other wants to read might help explain how two very different personality types do work, whereas when that isn't shown you can be left wondering how it is going to work out once that first buzz has worn off. But you are right, in category romances it's got to be done with a lighthand because the word count just isn't there to do it! I love my longer word counts!!!!

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