Tuesday 5 July 2011

When should a heroine tell lies?

When is it OK for a heroine to lie?

In my latest, To Touch the Knight, my heroine, Edith, is a liar. She lies to save herself and her fellow-villagers. She makes an illusion in order to survive. Does that make her evil?

To me it does not. But heroines in romantic fiction tend to have less leeway than heroes.

Take a hero who sows his wild oats. That is seen as normal, possibly even considerate, as he will then be experienced when making love to the virginal heroine. But how many hearts has he broken on the way?

Take a hero who is driven, obsessed, vengeful. 'Yum yum!', perhaps, is the response of some romance readers. But I wonder what happens when that engine of revenge is spent. What then? And if the hero is obsessed will he not remain obsessive? That energy, once he and the heroine are together, may be diverted into other things. He will no longer be a driven lover, but what?

Can the truly vengeful have a happy ever after ending?

What of the heroine who is driven and ambitious? Why is that seen as something to be diluted in her but not in the hero?

As a romance writer, I love a happy ever after end. To ensure it I look forward into my characters' lives, projecting them far into their futures. Will they still be content in old age? Will their different characteristics still mesh?

When couples remain and stay together they tend to end any disputes with tolerance and laughter, a mutual appreciation and understanding. This is what I like to show in my romances - the start of that process.

So, as To Touch The Knight progresses, Edith realizes she can tell Ranulf the truth. That trust from her is vital.

Ranulf also realizes that his grief for his late wife is also laced by guilt and resentment that he needs to lose.

Edith accepts him and realizes he believes more in the church than she does. She respects that, even as she begins to question her own hard-headed, practical way of always looking at the world.

Ranulf accepts that she told lies and accepts why she did so. He forgives her - though to Edith he has nothing to forgive.

I'm with Edith. How about you?

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Barbara Elsborg said...

Yep, me too. Telling lies can be made an actual virtue in some cases!! It's good to have flaws in heroines too!!

Linda Banche said...

If certain behavior is unacceptable for one sex, it's unacceptable for both. Unfortunately, the double standard exists in life and it flows over into books. Personally, I can't stand the rake. "Sowing his wild oats to make it easier for him to initiate his virgin wife?" What a male rationalization. And men get away with it because women buy into it.

Again, ambitious women are anathema in romances as in life, too. Somehow, it's not "feminine". But if "feminine" means you're a doormat, we need a new definition of feminine. Bring on the ambitious women and the men who like them that way! Such men do exist.

As for Edith, she lied to survive. Good for her. If she had conformed to the mores of her day she would have died.

Stephanie Burkhart said...

It was different times and different expectations back then. I agree with Linda - if she had told the truth she probably would have a died. Personally, I'm for what's good for the goose is good for the gander so you go Edith.

Happy Sales, Lindsay!


Savanna Kougar said...

I agree with Linda and Steph. If it's a survival situation and a lie/lies are required... well, that's why as humans we have the ability to lie... animals all have their deceptive behaviors as well to survive.

I never make my heroines less than the hero. NEVER! My heroes may or may not be more experienced sexually, however in character, and in ambition my heroines are of equal strength, if different in how they express it.

I, too, project into the future relationship of my heroines and heroes, because of primary importance to me is a 'continuing' happily ever after.

Good topic, Lindsay, and Edith is a heroine after my heart.