Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Job Core

Not Corps. Don't want you to think I don't know how to spell. My current heroine is a writer of gothic novels, and her writing plays a central role in Mistress by Marriage. This is not the first time I've wound up with a writer-heroine. They do say to write what you know, and when you're stuck in front of the computer, you forget there are other possibilities out there.

One of my very earliest novella characters was a romance writer who didn't believe in love. She got the guy anyway, and had twins to boot. *Snort*. Then there was infamous Kelly King, who wrote several romances simultaneously, much to the dismay of her mixed-up couples.

It's hard to find the proper 'career' for a historical heroine. Writing historicals is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you can get away with all sorts of Uber-Alpha-Maleness and unprotected sex that would be extremely irritating in real life. On the other hand, women were expected to play a very different role in society, and to be true to the era, you really can't have a heroine running around claiming she wants to stay unmarried and be 'independent.' Are you telling me that instead of having a nice warm hero in her bed, she'd rather be at the mercy of her father, her brother or some cross-eyed cousin? I don't think so. Getting the balance right between 21st century sensibilities and 19th century reality is tricky.

What are 'acceptable' activities for your historical heroines? If you write contemporaries, how big a role does employment play in your plot?

March is Women's History Month. Go out and make some!


Elyssa Papa said...

I love when a woman works in Historical Romances. Of course, by work I mean writing. Or painting. Or a musician. But I do love those Cinderella-esque romances, too.

I know I used more of a career in AYW than I had in the first two and thought it added more of a dimension to her character. My new heroine has been fired from her job and woke up married to a complete stranger, so I'll see what happens in regards to both.

Tiffany Chalmers said...

My heroines seem to be involved in 'trade' the very naughty kind of trade. My next heroine, does not work. She's married (to hero) she paints during the day, see's to the manor kind of gal.
I must not be very adventurous! LOL

I love reading working women in historicals though.

Janga said...

I have a special fondness for writer heroines in Georgian and Regency-set historicals, Maggie. I suspect my delight in them may be tied up with wanting Jane Austen to have her HEA. :)

With my contemporary heroines, career is part of my earliest conception of the character. Right now I have a textile artist, a clergywoman, and a nutrition specialist burned out from working for a private charity in countries in crisis.

terrio said...

I'm not sure I fall for heroines in Historicals having occupations. Depends on the era, I guess. Victorian I can go for. Before that, probably not. Though if the book is written well, I'd still read it. Victoria Alexander has a heroine that is sort of an Historical Interior Decorator. Probably far fetched, but I still really enjoyed the book.

When I first created my heroine, her job didn't play much of a role except to show she was ordinary. Since then, it's changed and morphed into something more and now plays a major role in the external conflict of the story.

For contemporaries, I'm more amazed when heroines don't ever seem to go to work and they aren't from some uber-wealthy family. I'm always wondering where in the world her money comes from.

irisheyes said...

I enjoy reading historical working women. Probably because it was so out of the ordinary it sets the stage for an interesting storyline.

In my own writing the heroine's occupation can be pretty important to me. Because I believe that certain personality types choose certain occupations it's helpful in defining my character.

For example I have a heroine who is on the outside a hard, tell it like it is, smarta$$. Meeting her in a bar you'd get one aspect of her peronality, but then you see her with her class of kindergarden students and see a different side of her.

Maggie Robinson said...

Ely, I'm all for extensive hobbies for historical heroines. But I sure am glad I live now.

Tiff, you've got the oldest profession covered. *w*

Janga, get your nutrition specialist to help me out, okay?

Terri, in contemps, the heroines usually have some really "hot" job that they never seem to work at, LOL. Except for the billionaire's secretary.

Irish, I love the idea of a wiseass kindergarten teacher! You have to have a huge sense of humor to deal with those little ones.

Evangeline said...

I get to write heroines with usual and unusual professions for the time! I particularly love the secretary, the journalist, the stage actress, the lawyer, the shopgirl, the explorer, the doctor and the headmistress.

When ir comes to contemps, the heroine's career is very important. A projected WIP has a firefighter heroine, a job seen rarely for women in romance novels.

Maggie Robinson said...

Wow, a firefighter, a kind of a rare job for a woman, period. I know a female volunteer firefighter, and all I can say is that the equipment alone would knock me over! Sounds intriguing, Evangeline!