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Friday, October 15, 2010

Naked in the mirror

I don’t particularly want readers to be thinking about whether Fast Lane was written by a man or a woman. So I’m constantly evaluating.

On one hand, Judy Cornfield, a member of my novel writing group, wrote in the margin, “You’ve found your niche: women’s fiction.” She based this conclusion not only on Fast Lane, but also on my first novel, Chick Flick, which puts a married couple through a night of hell but is, as Judy phrased it, “a sweet love story at heart.”

On that same hand, Peggy Williams, a screenwriting pal, wondered how my script Metal Mom—the one that got optioned twice—could so accurately reflect her life as a forty-year-old mom/wife/working woman.

On the other hand, there’s this comment from a Daily Kos post by Laura Clawson:

My editors at Harlequin used to joke that they could always tell when a man had written a manuscript. Somewhere in the first fifty pages the heroine undressed in front of a mirror...and liked what she saw. That sounds like a good idea, having a body that you can admire when you are buck-naked in your own bathroom. But what clearly seems a better idea, a more appealing fantasy, is to walk by that mirror and simply not care.

Not so clear over here.

Of course I had a scene similar to that. On page eight. Lara (my heroine), didn’t undress, since she was at a party, but she did see her reflection in a chrome pillar and thought that, after months of working out, she looked pretty good.

There I was, being a man. I immediately changed it to Lara realizing that while everyone else at the party is and looks ten years younger, fuck, the man she’s after, Clay, is seven years older—and he can just grow up and deal with her more mature appearance.

Clawson wrote that “the fantasy…is not to be beautiful but to have an identity for yourself that is not caught up in your appearance. Romance heroines rarely know how beautiful they are. This isn't because they are too stupid to look in a mirror or too low in self-esteem to understand what they see there, but because they are presenting the fantasy of being something other than body, of not having any of this cosmetic-advertisement stuff matter.”

Which is great. I’m all for that in real life, anyway.

Of course, then there’s a Romance Writers of America study showing that when it comes to what women want in a hero, being well-muscled and good-looking trumps being smart.

Talk about what’s sauce for the goose…

Still, I get what Laura Clawson is saying. If you’re overly concerned about body image, the fantasy would be not to be. So Lara’s all about that now.

But Clay…he’s still got his six-pack abs and the smoldering gaze of a gorgeous teen vampire.

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