Thursday, January 05, 2006

Virgins in Romantic Fiction ... Urban Legend?

I've been pondering characterizations... and wonder how the general public feels about something.

Virgins in mainstream romance (as opposed to inspirational).

Do you think it's believable that a girl "waits" even if she doesn't have a faith-based reason for it? And, if so, how old is too old to make this believable? 18? 25? 40?

My main female characters are never sexually promiscuous for a number of reasons -- the biggest one being that I don't enjoy writing - or reading - about a character like that. Erotica? Not my cup of tea.

So, adult virgins. Believable or an Urban Legend?


Oh, and Darcy? I'm getting there! Only a few more pages and I'll have the next bit of Liv for you. I swear -- I'm working!


Charity said...

What a great topic! You know, in my view, I don’t think it needs to be one way or the other. Thing is, if a heroine sleeps with anyone other than the hero, some readers will label her promiscuous. In The Boys’ Club, I don’t think Kit is promiscuous, but she could be if she wanted to (female in military + foreign deployment = plenty ‘o opportunity).

Of course, TBC is mainstream, not really a “pure” romance. I gave Kit a mixed bag of experiences, since I thought that’s what a woman like her would have. Some bad (off stage, mostly in back story), some good, some questionable. I was nervous about the last scene I posted because I wasn’t sure how people would take it.

My problem with most virginal heroines is I can’t suspend my disbelief unless there’s an historical context to the story or excellent motivation. But a great many romance readers love the “still a virgin” heroine and that she’s “untouched” by anyone other than the hero. It must tap into some fantasy or other, because just glancing at titles and back cover copy, I don’t see it going away any time soon.

darcy said...

I'll just say -- how many do you know?

I think it's a wonderful concept, the whole one woman/one man, save it for the marriage bed and live happily ever after. And -- as a mom -- it's something I am definitely rooting for ;^)

I just don't have see it happening often, if actually ever. Even among the young Christian kids I know. Most of them, up until the age of 17 or so, swore they were waiting. But one by one their eyes started averting whenever the topic was brought up. My daughter (and one boy) are the only ones left and frankly, I'm not 100% sure about my girl anymore.

I think God wired us with an urge that is almost impossible to ignore. What other reason can you suggest to explain the mystery of grubby little boys who suddenly start showering daily and feigning interest in chick flicks? What, besides the lure of sex, could affect such a metamorphosis?

I'm not saying there is no such thing as an attractive, well adjusted 27 year old virgin. I'm just saying I don't know any.

I'm also saying you don't need to spell it out in Liv. The reader could come to her own conclusions about the state of Liv's hymen and it wouldn't change the story much. But you DID spell it out. That's when I asked why. If you were aiming for the inspirational market or this was a moral statement you felt strongly about making, then I thought you should certainly go for it. If, on the other hand, you just thought it would make Liv's fiance's motive for possibly cheating seem stronger -- then I thought you should leave it out. It seemed to call attention away from the story.

It's YOUR book, Maria. That's the cool thing about being a writer. No one can (or should) tell you what to put in there. If you think it is necessary to point out that Liv is a virgin (and hint that it is okay that Geoffrey is not)then DO IT. Just work at smoothing the edges of the information a little.

One more thing I'm saying -- hurry up! I want to read more!

Marianne Arkins said...

C -

Thanks for your input... I have to admit I haven't said anything about your recent TBC post because I'm not certain how I feel about it. Jenny Crusie did this to me in her book "Fast Women" where the heroine, despite her attraction to the hero, had a one night stand with the hero's co-worker. Really threw me. I'm not saying I hate your scene, just that it's settling right now. It's that old double standard again -- Mark can do any old thing, but Kit? *sigh*

D - I hope you don't think I was attacking YOU. I actually had this same issue come up before with some other folks in another class with another story and it's gotten me thinking about it. I was looking for outside opinion from, well, anyone just to get an idea of what people in general think about this.

Stranglely enough, I know THREE ladies over 30 who are still virgins, and waiting for marriage. I probably know more than that, actually, and just don't know that they are. So, I'm guessing it has a lot to do with your world view.

Still thinking....

darcy said...

Maria, Sugar, I didn't think you were attacking me. I did think my feedback prompted your post. I also think I probably shouldn't comment on blogs after getting home from gymnastic meets, particularly meets where the coach sets the bars wrong and DD nearly breaks her arm. Ggrrr. See? I'm grumpy again, just thinking about it.

I really like Liv's story -whether she's a maiden or not - and I'm glad to know there are 30 y.o. virgins out there. Maybe you could introduce me to their mothers and I could take notes ;^)

Judy said...

Hi, Maria. I think there are more virgins out there than we might think. It seems to be something that people don't want to admit, I guess because our society has made it seem so "normal" to not wait. This change only came about in the last several years, at least in the area I live in. When I was in high school (and beyond) it was accepted that "good girls" didn't have sex. And I'm not THAT old! I think there are some very good reasons to wait, even in this day and time.

I think a lot of accepting whether or not a grown woman would still be a virgin would depend on the situation she is in... ex., women from the south are still considered more conservative than women in other parts of the nation (whether it's true for individual women or not).

Hopefully I didn't muddle the water any more :-)

I have found some sites you might be interested in reading:

Charity said...

I know that scene is an uncomfortable one. It’s supposed to be, on more than one level. One reason I posted was to get people’s reactions (or non-reactions, as the case may be, LOL, I guess that says volumes, too). Never mind all the other reasons Mark and Kit can’t be together at this point in the story, I feel Mark needs to learn more of a lesson before he deserves Kit.

Let’s face it, the man’s a slut. For me, there has to be something more than “oh, I’ve found the one, now I won’t screw around.” He has to suffer the consequences of his current actions, make changes, then he gets Kit. As for Kit, while she accepts Mark’s flaws, she still sees him as larger-than-life. She has a serious case of hero worship and needs to learn to love the man, flaws and all.

I’d go on about Kit and Vic, but I’ve already blabbed enough about a book that isn’t finished. And that no one else really cares about. LOL

But don’t sweat not liking the scene. I knew a fair number of people wouldn’t.

Marianne Arkins said...


I don't "not" like the scene. I do like it, but it makes me uncomfortable. Since that was what you intended, it worked beautifully...

More in Mythic Madness.