“Men at most differ as Heaven and Earth, but women, worst and best, as Heaven and Hell”*

Or, This Week’s Theme Is Female Characters in Romance

This week I am planning to run a series of posts about women in romance novels.

The perception of female characters is, specifically, what fascinates me both as a reader of the genre and a writer. 

As a writer I worry whether I can create female characters whom women readers can like and relate to, given that all my characters are fundamentally a reflection of how I see the world and that my point of view may not be familiar, comfortable, accessible, or enjoyable for everyone.  My experience of life has been my own, and while it may easily reflect the experiences of the majority of other women, it might just as easily…not. 

And the real question is whether the author’s experience of the world matters.  Do unfamiliar perspectives become familiar when they are presented with the background that explains why the character behaves in that way or thinks in that pattern?  Do most readers project onto a character enough of their own emotions that only a few outlying personalities will be off-putting?   

Some of the topics I am planning right now to cover:

  • Is it more important to like the hero or the heroine?
  • What does the number of lonely, isolated heroines in romance mean?
  • How can you present historical heroines in a way that is both realistic to the time and inoffensive to modern sensibilities?
  • Who are my favorite heroines?

Is there something you think I should think about that isn’t on the list?  Let me know! 

If you’re a blogger—or author, reviewer, editor, romance lover, whatever—and you write a response post to any of mine, please drop me an email or a tweet or a comment with the link. I would love to see the responses, even if they are telling me I am wrong wrong wronger than wrong (or if you’ve blogged about such topics in the past point me to those, as well); I really would love to see what other people’s perspectives are.  Or if you don’t have a blog, feel free to start discussing this in comments/twitter—let’s make it a conversation!

*Alfred Lord Tennyson


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