Thursday, May 18, 2006


One of the golden rules of romance writing is that a heroine must be likable, more admirable than not, sympathetic, and in general the type of character the reader can identify with and care about.  However, as I've been glued to the tube for the season finales of my favorite TV women, I see them breaking all the rules, and I STILL care about them anyway.

It has to make you wonder why the women we like to read about are so different from the women we like to watch on TV. 

Take GREY'S ANATOMY for an example (anyone but me a huge fan)?  I shamefully admit Derek couldn't get Meredith's panties down fast enough for me in the season finale this week - yet I'd never have allowed one of my heroines to have sex with a married man, and especially not with his wife and her date right outside the door!  Nor would I have allowed Izzy to risk her career, forget her ethical medical obligations and basically steal a donor heart, even in the name of love for Denny.  And Christine would have been at Burke's side from the get-go after he was shot, telling him how much she loved him regardless of whether he could ever pick up another scalpel again.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES has me just as confused.  Susan is such a flake - yet I adore her completely.  I've watched Bree hide the fact that her son killed someone in a hit-and-run accident, silently sit by her ex-lover's side and let him die of an overdose rather than call for help, refuse to admit she has an alcohol or an OCD problem - yet I care about her anyway.  I was shocked when Lynette went behind her husband's back and ruined his chances of the big promotion he wanted - yet now I'm enraged on her behalf because he might have gone behind her back and is cheating on her.  And don't get me started on Gabby - sleeping with a teenage boy really has a big ewww factor for me - yet she's one of the most interesting characters on the show.  Can you imagine me turning in a manuscript to my editor with any of these women as heroines - I don't think so.

BIG LOVE - anyone else addicted to this new HBO series?  I truly don't even know where to begin here.  Polygamy - are you kidding me?  I'm a romance writer devoted to preserving that special one-on-one man and woman relationship, yet I'm totally hooked on this new show and find myself sympathizing with all three wives and their predicaments.  Go figure.

So help me out here with your enlightening opinions.  Why do you think we expect our romance heroines to walk a finer line than those women we like to watch on TV?

Candy Halliday


Lori Wilde said...


I think we watch all the same shows! Grey's Anatomy was so great. I want inside the writers heads!

To answer your question--not that I have all the answers mind you. Grin. But I think in books our readers imagine themselves in the role of the heroine. They don't want the heroine to do something that they wouldn't do without. TV is a visual media. We can live vicariously through those heroines, be shocked by them but still like them because we're not putting ourselves in their shoes the way we do with a book. Just my take on it.

Candy Halliday said...

Good point, Lori. I'm sure you're right about everything you said.

But boy it's been hard being in deadline hell and trying to keep my heroine on the straight and narrow path while I watch all of these fabulous season finales!

I was deep into dialogue between my heroine and her housewife pals yesterday - all who assume she's been celibate since her divorce - and she looks at one of them and says "Celibate? Sure, I sell a bit. The rest I give away."

I erased that conversation, of course. :)

back to deadline hell

Lori Wilde said...

Aw, I like the line!

Diane Perkins said...

Lori, I think you are right about the difference between reading a heroine and watching one on TV.

I watch Big Love and I like it, too, at the same time I'm saying, "Hey this is about polygamy. I don't like polygamy." It is so well done and well-acted.

I must be the only person in the universe who has never seen Grey's Anatomy and who rarely watches Desperate Housewives. I've even grown tired of Lost!

Diana, what a GREAT title!!! I'm so envious - my poor untitled, unfinished book is envious. I predict LOTS OF SALES for you!!!