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Thursday, October 04, 2012


I did spare a few thoughts for writing while I was in the midst of going through my house. To be honest, I'm not sure how this cropped up inside my brain because I can't think of anything that triggered it, but then my mind mystifies me frequently. :-)

Why do we as romance writers have to mention in the book how much experience the heroine does or doesn't have?

That was the question I pondered. My personal belief—and practice—is that it almost never needs to be mentioned. I did bring it up in my first book because it was a dynamic of the relationship between Ravyn and Damon that actually had an impact. I also brought it up in Dark Awakening because it was also a plot factor and Maia's past relationship with Seth was also a major plot point in In Twilight's Shadow. Any other mention in any other book wasn't my idea, but a request from an editor.

To be fair, I generally don't announce how much experience my heroes have either unless it's a story factor. Although you can bet safely that they're not virgins. That is one trope that I avoid like the plague as a reader and I'm for darn sure not spending six months of my life writing one. And now that I've said that, the Universe will probably ensure the next new hero that shows up is innocent. But damn I hope not.

But I digress.

Anyway, I've never seen a mystery writer or a fantasy writer mention how much sexual experience their characters have, so I'm not sure why romance writers are expected to do this. If a writer doesn't say, then the reader can picture a heroine (or hero) any way she likes. If she wants the heroine to be a virgin, she can be a virgin. If the reader prefers a more experienced heroine, there you go. And if the reader wants a heroine with a little experience, she can be that, too.

Reading is very much a collaborative exercise. Every time I open a book, I bring my preferences and biases to the table. I think most readers do this and IMO, it's one of the things that makes reading so awesome. I just think that not saying something like, Jane had slept with three guys, one of whom kept his socks on, and none of them had ever rocked her world is unnecessary unless there's a specific reason the story demands it.