Tuesday, March 23, 2010

eBook Experiment - More Editing and Romance Tropes

Progress report: I am a little behind in the editing, but I left in a lot of buffer time. I also registered for Smashwords.

In the meantime....

There was a debate on a Romance blog today about whether there was a double-standard in Romance fiction for women's behavior. Men were supposed to be rogues and women pure, and the discussion about it was lively. Many felt they could not identify with a woman who was 'bad' and others would like to see more naughty women as long as they were at least sympathetic and preferably morals in matters other than sex. Others argued the biological imperative of fidelity.

I think the whole thing is just a matter of why genre exists. The more specific a category is, the more specific the audience expects the message to be. And even though the same audience may like a different message in a different kind of book, when they pick up a category romance, it's because they feel like a story with that particular message. If they wanted a different message, they'd go to a different type of book.

Which is why we have sub-genres. Most of the time a strong woman story, or a story about redemption or finding oneself, will be considered "women's fiction" rather than straight romance. Many commenters on the blog post also commented that that was why they liked Paranormal fiction and Romantic Suspense - because very often they would get a different flavor from those.

The question comes back to how do you help your readers find the experience they are looking for?

I don't think there is any doubt at all that my book is not about a chaste and pure woman. The title makes that clear enough, and the cover looks more like women's fiction than category romance. Still, I will be curious to see how it goes.


Jessica Bell said...

That's very interesting. When I submitted my women's fiction novel for a critique, I was told my protagonist was too passive. I, plus a lot of my guinea pig readers thought her character was realistic. Obviously realistic doesn't cut in the publishing world, though. So I have rewritten my story with a more strong-willed protagonist. Anyway, my question to you is, do you think women's fiction will always be about successful independent women who always manage to get what they want, or do you think readers may start to accept that not all women are like that, and that it doesn't hurt to be realistic sometimes?

The Daring Novelist said...

I think passive characters are going to be a problem in ALL fiction of any kind. The psychological point of story is to work through problems. And drama is conflict, which is basically characters attempting to achieve goals.

Remember that active doesn't not mean successful and independent. It just means taking action rather than just reacting or being acted upon.

That said, category romance is much more friendly to passive heroines than "women's fiction." One other alternative is to make your main passive character a "Watson" - that is a narrator and observer of the actions of more active characters.

That's, I think, a part of the romance issue of active men and passive women. At least when the reader is a straight woman, she may be focusing on the male character, and the female is just a placeholder for the reader.

Carol Kilgore said...

I think there's often a fine line between what works and what doesn't. I like romantic suspense because the heroine is expected to be a little more edgy.