Friday, May 19, 2017

Romance Heroines and Gainful Employment

Jane Austen might have set the standard for delightful heroines with Lizzie Bennet and her fine eyes, and even finer observational skills and witty retorts. I love Lizzie, and her modern equivalent (arguably) Bridget Jones.


The great thing about writing historical heroines, for a modern writer, is that the heroine's career path is limited enough to avoid judgment. The writer doesn't have to worry about giving her a career that reflects her abilities and strengths without coming on too strong or too brainy. 

It's perfectly acceptable that a Regency or Victorian, even Edwardian, heroine would be sitting around sewing, or visiting friends, or shopping in the middle of a weekday.


Her hero might also avoid any serious employment. The challenge is getting them together enough to let the romance develop without boring the reader. Oh, look, they're sitting down to tea again! They're going out on horseback again! He's studying her figure as she crosses the room again!

Again, you say?! Surely not again! 
Creating a modern heroine? She needs a job. Or she's independently wealthy, which is nice but we have trouble coming up with reasons to sympathize. In this modern world, most of us have to work. Even if she's a stay-at-home mom, we know she doesn't have help and there's a world of work in mothering. And then we, the writers, have the task of not letting that employment get in the way of true love. Or turn us off. After all, we have to fall in love with the heroine, too, though not in the same way we love the hero. 

And there, my friends, is my sticky wicket. I'm trying to work out a new contemporary series and my heroines are consistently holding me back. I've had a marketing executive, a lingerie designer, and a crime scene clean-up professional, and none have gotten the green light to move on in their own stories. Alas! 

What careers do you like to read about most? Or, what's your biggest fantasy career? If you weren't what you are now, what would you be doing?

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