Friday, June 20, 2008

Living Vicariously

In my not so very humble opinion, the heroine is the most important part of a romance novel. The plot, setting, the minor characters, even the hero pales in comparison to the heroine. In a romance novel, she the center of the universe.

The plot is the structure of the story, it’s the framework that allows the h/h to meet, have conflicts, overcome obstacles, and eventually fall in love. The setting is the background onto which the plot is set. The minor characters provide color and clarity. All of these things are the basics, the foundation onto which the novel is built. They’re crucial elements, but not the most crucial.

And then there’s the hero, the other major character. Listen to a group of romance fans for very long, and you’ll hear all about the heroes. His physical attributes are important. His personality is endlessly discussed. Our hearts beat faster just thinking about a romance hero. If the book works, we can fall in love with him right along with the heroine.

Which brings us back to what I was saying earlier. All these elements are important. Everything works together to construct a whole. But without the heroine, everything falls apart. The plot can be intricate and interesting, the setting colorful and fascinating, the minor characters wonderful, and the hero handsome and sexy. But if the heroine is too stupid to live, or if she’s an air-head, or a whining baby who depends on the hero to get her out of every problem, then all the other things don’t matter anymore. We can’t identify, and the book won’t work.

Conversely, we can forgive a lot if the heroine is spectacular. Haven’t we all read books in which the plot is thin, the setting mundane, the hero and minor characters uninteresting. But if the heroine is strong, interesting, and life-like, we’re able to forgive the other problems and get some enjoyment from the book regardless.

Because we like and identify with the heroine. We, as readers, become one with her. We go on adventures with her; we get a peek into her life. And we fall in love with her.

And isn’t that the whole point of a romance novel?

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