Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fantasy vs. Reality

There's a fabulous post on Jenny Crusie's blog today that stirs up a lot of fascinating topics under the umbrella of writing romance.

First let me say, I agree 1000% with everything Ms. Crusie says about the whole kerfluffle that's ruffling feathers in the romance universe right now, but most expecially I agree with this:

This is where I make my disclaimer: I hate rape romance. I also hate those romances where the hero is emotionally abusive to the heroine; those aren’t romantic, either. And I loathe baby romances; anybody who’s ever had a baby knows what a kid will do to romance. Also I don’t like badly written romances; I think people should learn to write well and publishers should only publish books with good writing. And while we’re on this, any romance novel that makes God more important that the romance story is not a romance, it’s an inspirational novel with a romance subplot, and I don’t like them, either. And you know that romance plot where the heroine fights another woman for the hero? Catfight novels. Hate those. And . . . - Jenny Crusie

Beyond that, I don't want to rehash the argument of what consistutes a romance and what doesn't. We've been through this with the erotica argument a few months back and no one wants to be lumped into the 'shrill minority' any less than I do. [wink, wink]. But I will say the post got me thinking about the idea of letting readers [or rather assuming that readers CAN] think for themselves and distinguish between reality and fantasy.

Now, everyone knows I'm a fan of fantasy and not so much a fan of reality. If I liked reality all that much, I'd probably be a stock broker, not a romance novelist. However, I do believe that I can happily spend a great deal of my time in a fantasy world of my own or someone else's devising and still be able to function well enough in the real world - and know the difference between the two.

I've long held the belief that if someone reads a murder mystery, they will not become a murderer because it seemed like a good idea in the book. I don't think someone reading a western will run out to Arizona and start roping steer, nor do I think that a young woman reading a romance will sit on her tuffet forever eating her curds and weigh and waiting for prince charming to ride in on his white horse, while perfectly acceptable relationships pass her by because she thinks that's how things work in the 21st Century. I don't think the average romance reader is TSTL.

That's why I write romances in which the hero and heroine sometimes don't use bith control. [Egads!] I write romances in which no one worries about STDs. [Unconscionable!] and I write romances in which, sometimes, the hero and heroine do jump into bed only moments after they've introduced themselves [and in one case the intro actually does come after!] [Yikes, what's gotten into me?]

I don't do this because I don't have a firm grip on reality. Let's face it, sex in the real world is a risky business. Relationships are like minefields, life is rough and bad things happen, especially to people who don't pay attention. But I don't write PSAs. I write fantasies. Whether they're set in New York in 2007 or on Rigel IXX in 3472, they're all fantasies and they're made for women just like me who spend an awful lot of time in the real world and want or rather NEED to get away from it for a while. I respect my readers and because I do, I show them worlds and relationships where everything works out in the end. I do that because I know my readers can handle it. They live in the real world, just like I do, and they deserve a break, just like I do.

Thanks, Ms. Crusie for your insightful post!

In other news:

I'm at Novelspotters today talking about Bernadette's Amber Heat releases. Stop by if you get the chance. My contest will be open until 5:00 PM EST Monday, April 16th!


Jennifer Elbaum said...

"I've long held the belief that if someone reads a murder mystery, they will not become a murderer because it seemed like a good idea in the book."

But if somebody (like say me) dreams up that murder, will I become a murderer?

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

But if somebody (like say me) dreams up that murder, will I become a murderer?

No more than someone [like me] who writes erotica will become a nymphomaniac - much to my hubby's disappointment. ;)