Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In A Series Should A Heroine Live

I know the rule of thumb in straight up romance is that the heroine always lives. I've always contended my book was a dark romantic suspense and that things that aren't necessarily romantic happen to the hero and heroine. And in this case I'm struggling with a very unromantic premise: Death.

I adore my heroine and have already spent time with her in a previous book. And I suppose it's only fear holding me back. Fear of what my publisher will say. Fear that hard won fans will reject the book I so want them to love.

The only thing not letting go of me is the hero and he is angry to the point of rage filled where nothing else matters. He doesn't care about about anyone or anything and all that he wants is for people to feel pain. The one who had pulled him back from that empty existence was the heroine. It is the only thing I can see driving him to that point again.

So I guess I really fear not being published. Which doesn't make me special. It makes me about as typical as the next writer lol.

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Anonymous said...

That would be a new take on TSTL - is she Too Nice To Live? Or does she die by falling off a cliff/blowing up in a nuclear reactor/or some other way that there's no body? In which case can your readers look forward to seeing her again?

site angel said...

I've seen a lot of ways heroines are brought back to the hero in creative forms-- ghosts, reincarnations, rise from the dead, etc.
But killing off a heroine (for good) the reader loves? Hmm...
Have you read the book Misery by Stephen King?

Pat Dale said...

Interesting question, Amy. My Muse novel coming out this July, DANCE WITH THE DEVIL, features that question at the climax where one of the two women protagonists dies trying to protect the other one and the hero. He is mortally wounded and in the original MS died. You'll have to wait to see how it comes out in the final go-round.
I also just submitted a mystery, first of a series, where the female lead suffers a possibly life threatening injury at the end of the book. My take is that, in straight romance, it does not work so well to kill off a heroine but in other genre, it may be what the drama requires.
That's my take. Cheers,
Pat Dale

Rhobin said...

It's a hard decision, but sometimes you have to kill off a character or you just keep retelling the same story.

Unknown said...

Great post! If you make me fall in love with the main character (male or female) and then kill h/h off, I might cry and walk away with a lot of emotion and think, wow, that author wrote a fabulous book but you've also violated an important feature between a reader and author. Trust. Would I want to go through that again? Not me personally but some will and will demand more.

Love ya!

Cheena said...

If it's romance, no you CAN'T kill off the heroine. It doesn't matter how dark a romance is, it isn't romance if you kill off the hero/ine. I expect a HEA when I read a romance, no matter how dark it is. If the heroine (or the hero for that matter) is killed off, and I'm reading what I believe to be a romance, it would completely ruin the experience for me. The rules for other genres are a little different. When Kim Harrison killed off a main character in her Rachel Morgan books, I was saddened and a little horrified, but as it wasn't a romance, I could accept it.

So, if it's marketed as a romance, no matter how dark, you can't kill off the hero/ine.

Questions for you (that I don't need the answers to):
Why do you need the hero to feel that strongly and negatively? Is there absolutely no other way to get the end result without killing her off and making him go all crazy? And how will killing her off affect him in the long run?

P.S. I didn't realize I was so passionate about the HEA. :D Sorry if it was too strong. And for the repetitive nature of the response.

Elise said...

I have to disagree. I don't think Romance has to be HEA. Look at a Soap Opera, romance given daily in one hour doses. They don't always end up happily ever after. Lovers are torn apart or one dies (sometimes even can grow a new head and come back :P) but that doesn't make it any less of a romantic story.

Even death can be romantic, seriously. There are so many things to say in that last moment between two people. It can be very gripping and romantic. Though that grief a new strength can be found, changing the way they fall in love again.

I say toss'er off the cliff and see what happens :P If it doesn't work you can always say she was in a coma from the fall and didn't remember who she was till the end of the book :P

Happy Scribbles Phone Buddy :D

Janice Seagraves said...

I think that decision is going to have be between you and your editor.

Personally in romance, any genre of romance, you want the heroine around for the HEA or at least the HFN.


H.Houston said...

As a reader it breaks some part of the story for me to have the heroine die. As an author I would have the same issue, trying to figure out how exactly to make the death matter. As an editor I think I would invest in TUMS if something like that came across my desk.

However, here is the bottom line:

If killing off the heroine follows the story, enriches it, makes it more believable, more real and gives that punch to the entire piece.... then start the funeral music now. I dislike seriously gratuitous anything, however when it means something, says something, finishes something - it has to stay.