messages: a Smart Bitches Day thing

Give it up. Some of you are good at it. Most of us are not. I'm talking about sending the message of peace, love and understanding via romance. I don't mean actually take out the love. You better be good at the love.

What I mean is take out the tagged-on MESSAGE of this stuff. I'm thinking of the historicals with the PC women and the misogynist alphas who come to love and worship strong women in general (in other words become feminists rather than simply fall in love). Some people, like Laura Kinsale or Judith Merkle Riley can do this stuff. The transformation is believable because it's an integral part of the man's character to be able to change. Other romance writers seem to be putting in that twist to make their readers or editors happy rather than having it be a realistic important part of the plot. At the end, the rough tough pirate goes from ravisher to teddy bear--but that's only to fit the need for PC and because the heroine doesn't really want to live with the rough tough jerk, just have sex with him on the deck.

warning, Kate's about to write about a controversial subject: It always reminds me of that plot device in eroticas: a brutal non-consensual sex, obviously designed to titillate the reader and -- ha! ha! --turns out to be a husband fulfilling his spouse's dearest birthday wish. Sometimes it works in the story. (although I'm sick of the story line and I'm sick of non-consensual sex. Not for any political reasons, mind you.) Usually it serves to remind the reader in the reality that this stuff REAL non-consensual sex (rape) is BAD. Duh.

If you're writing that sort of story? Make that ending a real part of the plot--maybe have hints of it show up in the story? Don't just add on the message. Better yet make the dangerous tension between them more than yehaw-good-time violence aimed at the woman--but that's my personal preference showing. That rape fantasy rant isn't the point of this, thank goodness. (The real smart bitches address that rant just fine.)

Anyway a lot of those add-on PC things are like safe sex in a novel, unavoidable for mid-list people writing commercial fiction. Publishers want it so of course you have to put that safe sex bit in (or on) but it's your job to make the addition part of the scene completely natural and maybe even actually advance the plot or shed light on the characters.

Why would I, a teapot (my two mass-market books feature males who transform) write this rant? Because I'm a hypocrite and because I'm practicing. I plan on putting in a happy hypocrite in my next novel. Absolutely unapologetic and un-PC.

Comments

  1. hello... just blog hoping. Do drop by in my page as well. =) hutienraey.bravejournal.com

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  2. I think the essence of successful transformation is something Rosario talked about on Romancing the Blog once: the character's behavior changes, but his character doesn't necessarily need to change. So it helps if an asshole character acts like a jerkwad, but KNOWS he's acting like a jerkwad. It's all right if he starts out not caring if he's being a cuntmonkey, but as the book progresses, his conscience needs to start niggling at him. We, as readers, need to see the characters WANTING to change. That's the root of all the successful asshole-into-decent-human transformations that I've read in romance, from the two Sebastians (Lord of Scoundrels and To Have and To Hold), to Devon of the Windflower, to Sheridan of Seize the Fire. Anne Stuart does it quite well, too, but she's kind of hit or miss, especially in recent years.

    There are definitely way too many books where you can practically see the character change being shoehorned into the story. The asshole shows no remorse at all until the Sudden Realization of Lurve on page 395 of a 400-page book. FEH, I say. That's just lazy writing.

    But a lot of readers love lazy writing, too.

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  3. Ahhh - but if there isn't an epiphany then I end up wondering what the point of the whole story could be...
    I'm a pretty easy, non demanding reader, but in contemporary romance there has to be some sort of redeeming theme or character and a real change for me to enjoy the story. Haven't read very many like that lately - just entertainment is fine, but I like to be asked to think now and then.

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  4. yeah, a change in the main characters makes absolute sense--when you're reading about relationships the whole point is watching the characters grow. . . but when it's a change that's shoe-horned in (love that image, ms Candy. Cinderella's step sisters)because the attraction of an alpha doesn't fit the current PC climate then it's just irksome.

    But you know what? I think a lot of what's going on in my little world is my ADD syndrome. I'm being a lazy reader lately and perhaps missing subtle (and not so subtle) signs of growth. So I blame the authors.

    Don't you just HATE readers like that? Don't you want to dump them into shark infested waters along with a bucket of chum? (Or maybe you need to be a rioter for that kind of strong emotion to kick in)

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  5. Once again, totally agree with the rant, hypocritical or no.

    Man, I'm boring, I always agree with you.

    Oh, and by the way, Tag. You're it.

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  6. cuntmonkey

    It's not every day I learn a new cuss word. Go Candy!

    The Happy Hypocrite

    Wasn't that by Xaviera Hollander (the woman who, incidentally, stole my literary virginity)?

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  7. I have no idea what you just said, but I defend your right to say it, Kate ... just as I defend the right of writers to write what-ever-the-hell they want.

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  8. Dang Ferfe, I miss you.

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