Sunday, August 14, 2005

What Next?

Whatever happened to just telling a good tale and leaving the details for imaginative minds?

I still have Reno on the brain as well as talks about the C word... characterization...make 'em real but not too real.

What's next for romance writers who are now able to write about "older" heroes and heroines? Can't tell ya how often I heard that it's "okay" to age your characters past the twenties and thirties stages now. A few years ago, it was "okay" to have a heroine that wasn't a virgin. Now, it seems, we've progressed enough to make them old enough to have been around the proverbial block a time or two without dissing their character.

Real people are so much more interesting than anyone we as writers could conjure. I watched one of my "old lady" writing buddies get patted down at the airport a couple weeks ago, and she had the audacity to ask for the male rather than the female security guard do the job if it had to be done and kept them off-balance asking them questions about their job. She was, after all, a writer. Wasn't much to strip off anyway, considering the heat, but they still made her take off her shoes for the X-ray/metal detector/whatever the hell wand, and I wondered...what next? What's it gonna take for us to have safe air travel again? At the same time, I wondered: how do I get someone like her in print as a character and make the reader feel the richness of a mind that has the wonderment and sparkle of Peter Pan and the sage and sass of Jimmy Buffett?

Then...time for a reality check. What's it gonna take for us to write those older heros and heroines without hacking up a lung cackling at the imagery we'll provide if we write 'em real but not too real?

1. A nose ring and bifocals
2. Spiked hair and bald spots
3. A pierced tongue and dentures
4. Miniskirts and support hose
5. Ankle bracelets and corn pads
6. Speedo's and cellulite
7. A belly button ring and a gall bladder surgery scar
8. Unbuttoned disco shirts and a heart monitor
9. Midriff shirts and a midriff bulge
10. Bikinis and liver spots
11. Short shorts and varicose veins
12. Inline skates and a walker
13. Thongs and Depends

The fact that publishers are making a big deal out of opening up submissions for "older" heroines and heroes just disturbs me on two levels. One, I kinda resemble and resent that "older" tag being assigned. Two, how the devil are we gonna write with the images of the above in our minds?

And let's not forget about gettin' our characters laid! Now it's "okay" to include more sex in our stories. In fact, most publishers are seeking this very element, which...again...makes me wonder just how many ways our characters are allowed or supposed to "do it", and I can't stress enough how weird it is to think of sexual positions and proliferation without considering that one of the bed partners may need to take out their teeth, pull off their hair, or don a prophylactic, despite the fact that they probably had a vasectomy or hysterectomy only years or months earlier. Can't afford to offend the Let's-Have-Safe-Sex-if-We're-Gonna-Screw faction of NY.

Don't even get me started on writing safe sex. If it's fiction, it's freakin' fantasy, people - why the hell if I'm writing or reading something that requires me to suspend my disbelief do I want to take the time to put my middle-aged muse in the position of helping the hero sheath his wrinkled old cock-a-doodle-do any more than I'd want my heroine to lower the hem of her dress to keep her nips from showing? The Imagery Police would have coronaries. Realistically, there must be a balance, because meeting a 50-60-year old heroine who looks like Cher or hero like Harrison Ford or Kurt Russell doesn't cut it. The point of reading a work of fiction is about fantasy, so everyone is in perfect shape...unless the story calls for them to be otherwise.

When will it be kosher to simply write about people without labeling them as white or persons of color, without tagging them as "older" or wet behind the ears, without mentioning age? And how about considering them normal no matter if they wear Levis or lace, put their teeth in a jar at night, or call their partner honey, baby, or schnookums even at age fifty or above? ~ Depends upon the genre.

On the other hand, to quote The Kid, as you get older, you derive pleasure from different things, and when there's a distinction that must be made, something pertinent to the plot or characterization, you delve into a hedonistic calculus. Like anything in a story, attributes of a particular character are only relevant to a story if the distinction between those attributes and others would be important to another character. If nobody gives a shit how old Molly is (including Molly), then her age is ultimately not important. Things like sexual orientation or proclivities toward certain sexual activities are key features of a character, because in say the context of erotica, they determine a great deal about their potential for interaction and relationships with other characters (as in opposed to in a horror novel in which few people care if demons wear crotchless panties).

Just rambling and wondering. I miss people simply being people, but then if I didn't worry about characterization I wouldn't be writing fiction at all.

Maybe I am getting old.



At 10:09 PM, Blogger Kate R said...

damn. I'm shock about the picture.

damn. . . .

At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Heather Rae said...

Hmm. Okay, so a naked woman whose ass looks similar to mine is on an airplane. How did you find that picture?

So, just kidding.

I think this is a wonderful, witty albeit humorous post and one that deserves to be pondered. I hope somewhere in the land of TPTB read this and take some notes.

I like the way you think!

At 12:42 AM, Blogger Bron said...

Love the picture!!

A thought-provoking post, too.

(But why do all the guys seem to be looking at their... or is it just my dirty mind?)

At 1:52 AM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

tch, tch, tch...bron! they're reading of course! - lol

At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually know a couple who was on that flight. It was the inaugural flight of "Naked Air" from Miami to Cancun. I don't know how they did it, though. I'm normally in a jacket and wrapped in an airline blanket on board a jet. I imagine it would be pretty nipply for me sans clothing.

At 5:24 AM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

LOL, anonymous! i gotta find out more about that flight just out of curiosity. THANKS for sharing!

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Amie Stuart said...

that photo is just scary. LOL

or don a prophylactic

and probably have arthritis or what's that thing when old folks's hands shake? can you immagine the frustration? the number of condoms they'd go through? LOL


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