Fictional Heroes vs Men in Real Life

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I’m a romance writer, but I’m a cynical romance writer. How’s that possible, you ask? Well, I’ve got a (un)healthy sense of realism. I don’t believe in ‘happily ever after’ but I do believe in ‘making life and love work out for you’.
And here’s the other thing, I’ve never swooned *barks out a short despairing laugh at self* I’ve read about heroines that swoon, I think I might have even met some women (and men!) who’ve swooned, but I’ve never had the (mis)fortune of doing it myself.

I’m a cynical romance writer, I believe fiction’s where fancy exists and that in the world as we know it, to translate the fanciful directly is a dangerous thing to do. Recently I had a discussion with a group of lovely ladies on why some women were seriously looking out for the ‘romantic hero’ they read in romance novels. I was a bit baffled that they couldn’t separate reality from fiction, because to me the line wasn’t blurred. I’ve honestly never met a man that fits the description of the men I describe in my novels (sorry) and it kind of baffled me that some romance writers say their husbands were the inspiration for their heroes. Really?

(Okay put down the pitchfork, it’s just a thought! *ducks* And the rotten tomatoes!)

I find that hard to believe, I honestly do *smiles* No heroine of mine’s a one hundred percent replica of anyone I know, or myself for that matter. It’s a fictional world, with fictional characters and yes, as artists our art sometimes imitates life, but to actually say this one person (who might be so complex that he/she can inspire a series of books) was capable of inspiring such a fictional swoon worthy love…my brain just can’t stretch that far. Hence, a cynical romance writer I am.

My books have been described as fun and flirty, but anyone who’s picked up one, know that I like to mess with a variety of human emotions, I like to jazz things up (for a lack of a better word), so how can I jazz things up if I had a real life mild mannered husband who’s strength lay more in his quiet moments than the bombastic Alpha-like heroes of say a Harlequin romance? I’m a writer so I know what goes into character studies, so I’m not oversimplifying here for the sake of it. All I’m saying is; the cynic in me questions the reasoning behind the sentiment, because sentiment it is.
The stories I write are pure fantasy, they are worlds I know I’ll never find in real life and I love it that way. I’ve always done reading as a form of escape and that’s why I write the way I do, about the things that I do. Maybe this is just me (which is also fine), maybe I’m the only cynical romance writer out there or maybe the only one who actually came out saying, ‘hey I write romance BUT I’m not foolish enough to believe that what I write could ever BE reality’. Like I said before, that’s dangerous.
It’s one of the reasons why so many feminists are up in arms over a recent blockbuster movie with the name of a color in its title *wink*, because they understand how some women/girls blur the lines. And I guess (because of this) I feel obligated to say, I’m a cynical romance writer. I don’t believe-believe that these perfectly-imperfect characters I write could fit into a real world. They’d probably turn cynical themselves *grins*

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So dear romance readers, I love writing romance. I love creating swoon worthy moments and characters. I love dreaming up a world where love rules at the end of the day (instead of wars and plagues and people destroying each other every single day). I love leaving a ray of sunshine in someone’s life, even a little hope. But not unrealistic expectations. So I’m saying it here and now, on my blog: I am a cynical romance writer, don’t measure my fictional heroes to men in real life, the poor things could never stand a chance! *laughs*

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4 thoughts on “Fictional Heroes vs Men in Real Life

  1. Interesting post. I guess I’m surprised that some readers might honestly think fictional characters are accurate portrayals of people. To me, this opens up an interesting question about what responsibility writers have to keep their fictions clearly fictional, and whether readers have a responsibility to maintain that boundary themselves.

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  2. Very well said, Inge. I try to bring some of that realism into my books as I’m a sucker for realism. It could be why my books don’t have super alpha men. I really don’t like super alpha men myself. It’s such a fine line – having to create a feel good romance and not go too far into the world of ridiculous.

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    1. One man’s ‘ridiculous’ is another man’s gold. With romance novels, the reader usually reads for entertainment whether it’s on a Harlequin Presents or Sophie Kinsella level. Even with edgy romance reads like Nicole Williams’s Hard Knoxx the ant-hero usually becomes this ‘winning’, swoon-worthy guy the heroine can’t resist. Impressionable readers internalize all of this *smile* I remember the fracas over Harry Potter a couple of years ago, when parents were concerned their kids would succumb to witchcraft. Now these are kids, so you’d ‘expect’ them to be impressionable. But adults are as prone. Maybe the question isn’t so much as whether we should alter what we write, but asking why grown women would use a fictional character as a model?

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