Michelle's Pillow Talk
Author Michelle M Pillow's take on important events. *cough* Yeah, that's it.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Stalking vs. Persistence (In Romance Novels, of course)

Romance or Restraining Order?

When writing alpha male heroes, there are many fine lines to balance. In a recent Raven Podcast (which I co-host with Mandy M Roth), the topic of how much of the heroes actions are just sexy persistence vs. how much would be considered creepy stalking. The simple conclusion we came to is that if the heroine likes the man, its persistence. If she doesn't, it's stalking. Double standard? Sure. But its fiction, not real life, and we authors can do what we want.

In fiction, it's easy to draw loose lines between creepy and sexy, but the lines are still there and they're ones each writer needs to find for themselves. The easiest way to balance this is with the characters' development. How many times can a heroine shout "No!" before the hero crosses the line? It depends. Is she shouting "Yes!" in any other ways? Has the author demonstrated that the heroine doesn't mean what she says in more than just the heroine's own thoughts? It's one thing to have the heroine thinking she wants something, but if it's only a thought in her own mind how is the heroes actions any different than if she didn't want it?

The answers to these questions are as varied as there are authors writing. I love reading a persistent alpha, a take control man who knows what he wants and goes for it—even if in real life he would see the business end of my pepper spray.

Another aspect is the genre of story. It's easier to be lenient with an overzealous lycan or vampire, or even a lord of the castle, than with the relentless Dr Schmidt the heroine met at the gym. We accept our historical lords and our paranormal hotties when they're smidge overbearing and dominant—or at least I do. But what if you put the same domineering personality in a contemporary? Would it be romance or a restraining order?

Has an author you read pulled off the perfectly persistent alpha male? How much in your mind is too much?


posted by Michelle Pillow @ 8:44 AM  

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  • At 8:41 AM, Blogger Jennah said…

    As I'm married to an alpha, I'd say the overbearing personality can definitely be romance, even in a contempory setting if done right. You're right, there is a fine line though. He'd have to be persistent and overbearing in more ways than just personality. Does that make sense?

  • At 8:53 AM, Blogger Michelle Pillow said…

    HI Jennah :)

    I think military heroes can pull of the alpha, now that I think about it. Or maybe the bad boy biker. I know other characters can, if done right, but those are the two contemporary ones that pop into my head.

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