Subject: Established Virtue Standards for Romance Heroines
Date: 5/22/2008 1:04:40 PM Eastern Standard Time
To: Non-Club Members
It has come to our attention that you newly-published romance authors out there are ignoring the respectable virtue standards we have established for novel heroines. To address this horrific situation and protect the purity of our beloved genre, we have prepared the following guideline to help you appropriately craft the right sort of heroine in the future.
1. Body Features: The heroine must never like her bosums, which should be on the small side, or so large that she must wear baggy shirts and walk around hunching her shoulders to disguise them. However, whatever size, shape or condition they are in, they must be considered beautiful and perfect by the hero. Also, please stop calling them breasts and all those other graphic terms in your stories. Nice girls do not use these words. As for that place below the waist that we are too ladylike to mention, please have it be a complete mystery to the heroine, and only refer to it in the most nonspecific or flower-like terms whenever the hero, well, we're too ladylike to talk about that, either.
2. Employment: Virtuous heroines have decent nine-to-five jobs as secretaries, librarians, or office managers; occasionally a heroine may work shifts if she is something like a hospice nurse or a veternarian's assistant. However, the heroine must be prepared to abandon her employment as soon as she marries the hero, so please stop educating your heroines so much and giving them these complicated career jobs better suited to the hero.
3. Intimate Experience: We urge you to refrain from giving your heroine any intimate experience. However, if she has fallen from grace in the past with any man other than the hero, her experience should be depicted as painful, brief, and/or utterly disappointing, and take place during the heroine's freshman year in college. Better yet, give the heroine some form of drug- or alcohol-induced amnesia about her first time, have her believe that she is no longer a virgin, then reveal that she is still intact the first time the hero brings her to the full flower of her womanhood. Also, please stop calling intimacy "sex" or, worse, the eff word, and only refer to it as "making love."
4. Language: The saltiest word the heroine should ever use is "damn", but never in conjunction with "God." All other outbursts and swears should be along the lines of "Oh, fudge!" or "Sugar!" or something similarly sweet. No heroine in romance should EVER use the eff word, the cee word, or that other cee word.
5. Lesbian or Gay Secondary Characters: Acceptable lesbian or gay characters with whom your heroine is very distantly acquainted with must be portrayed as interesting boutique owners, quirky co-workers, or single next-door neighbors who are always bringing her the gourmet food they cook too much of. The lesbian or gay character should constantly joke about his/her sexual orientation but must never actually be seen in the presence of their bedpal of the moment. Nor should any relationship your lesbian or gay characters have be regarded as emotionally valid, long-lasting, loving, tender, etc. The heroine herself will never ever ever even think about having sex with another woman.
6. Nearsightedness: Somehow you did not get the memo about how a truly virtuous heroine must wear glasses to see, and the glasses should disguise how beautiful her eyes are until the moment the hero gently removes them prior to their first kiss. Please stop giving your heroines perfect vision and send them to LensCrafters at the first available opportunity.
7. Oral Ministrations: We urge you to refrain from using this specific act in any more of your books. It is disgusting, and none of us do it. If for whatever reason you must have your heroine do it for the hero, please remember that she must 1) be doing it for the first time in her life, 2) do it voluntarily while the hero repeatedly protests that she shouldn't, 3) perform the act only as proof of the depth of her love, and 3) be clumsy and amateurish at it while simultaneously giving the hero more pleasure than he has ever experienced in his life. Also, please don't refer to the act itself in explicit or anatomically correct terms, but have the heroine "pleasure him" with "her soft, trembling lips."
8. Protection: Although we do advocate you continue using safe sex in your novels, the heroine must never carry condoms in her purse or keep them in her house. It's best that she's not familiar with this form of protection at all. If the heroine does buy condoms, it must be for the first time in her life, and she should always purchase the economy-size box, preferably in stupid colors, and be in some way humiliated during the shopping experience. The heroine should never personally place a condom on the hero, and she should NEVER think about putting it on him while holding it in her mouth. Also, please stop calling them rubbers or condoms in the story, as this is vulgar, and only refer to them in the story as a "foil packet" the hero removes from his pocket.
9. Relationships, Serious: All of the heroine's former serious love relationships must have failed utterly. Any former marriage must have been to an older, unpleasant man who couldn't consummate it due to an unspecified but severe medical condition (but who will act as if he did as part of his revenge on his prodigal son, whom the heroine actually loves) or to a handsome but very young high school sweetheart who is tragically killed either on the day of the wedding or before the marriage can be consummated. Remember, the hero must be the heroine's ultimate (and hopefully only) lover.
10. Your Romance Ending: A perfectly virtuous romance heroine is only interested in living happily ever after, so please have her immediately accept the hero's offer of marriage, which should be made at some point during the last five pages of the novel. None of this living in sin or undeclared relationship portrayals, please. Also, if you do not provide a happy ending, we will hunt you down and slap the snot out of you at the next RT.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. Working together, we can bring romance back to the standards set for us by our mothers and grandmothers. We look forward to reading the virtuous heroines that we know you will write now.
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I'm choking half to death! God, this is the best comedy stuff I've read in weeks. Thanks for this one, Lynn, I sure needed the laugh.ReplyDelete
Also, please don't refer to the act itself in explicit or anatomically correct terms, but have the heroine "pleasure him" with "her soft, trembling lips."
And NO SWALLOWING. The heroine never swallows the unfortunate residue, but rises nimbly to her feet, ready for immediate minty-breathed kissing and hours of post-coital cuddling, with nary so much as a milky mustache.
Heeeheeee. I do love these delightful memos.ReplyDelete
I love your humor. This one's especially entertaining. I had an ex roommate who'd blush and barely utter the word "toilet paper."
Or the middle aged lass who frequented fetish nights and couldn't say the word "nipple."
I can't say condom? Great! There goes the scene where the heroine makes a "rubber tree" for the hero.ReplyDelete
I absolutely love your sense of humour and enjoy reading what you write, constantly.ReplyDelete
-- Cheryl at work
Great post!! LOLReplyDelete
Ummm...I think you stole this advice from one of the "how to write a romance novel" books that my library carries...seriously...Now, why was it that I never bought my own copy of any of those books again?ReplyDelete
Subject: Lawsuit PendingReplyDelete
Date: 5/22/2008 4:04:40 PM Eastern Standard Time
To: Paperback Writer
We did not give you permission to post our correspondence! We have been inundated with abusive and insulting remarks since you did so, an example of which is pasted below (obscenities redacted because we are NICE GIRLS here).
You will be hearing from our attorney about libel or slander or something like that real soon.
>Subject: Re: Established Virtue Standards for Romance Heroines
>Date: 5/22/2008 11:11:11 PM Pacific Standard Time
>I'm replying on behalf of my author, who is too busy writing books to respond to stupid ****ing **** like this. I can scarcely find the time myself, what with my high-powered career and admiring my magnificent **** and gleefully administering ******** on my man's **** while fantasizing about my dearest gal pal's ***** and all, but I figure it's just common courtesy after you took the time to unearth the Romance Rulz of 1743from your archives.
Take a chill pill, ladies. We're not tying up readers over here in the Land of No Virtue (although that's always a fun idea for the next book). If they want your myopic, sexually inept drudge with self-esteem issues, ain't nothing stopping them from reading about her.
You keep right on doing things the way your dear old granny did, and my writer and her peeps will write the way they want to, and then everybody SHOULD be happy. If you can't manage that, shut the **** up and kiss my *** because I'm tired of listening to you ***** about the good old days, which frankly sound like a crashing bore to me.
Have a nice day.
Thank you for the header "Established virtue standards..." It allowed me the chance to put my coffee down and swallow first, before blasting my keyboard with it. :-)
Obviously I didn't get the memo. *ggg*ReplyDelete
I love this. Thanks for cheering me up on a somber day:ReplyDelete
"5. Lesbian or Gay Secondary Characters: Acceptable lesbian or gay characters with whom your heroine is very distantly acquainted with must be portrayed as interesting boutique owners, quirky co-workers, or single next-door neighbors who are always bringing her the gourmet food they cook too much of. The lesbian or gay character should constantly joke about his/her sexual orientation but must never actually be seen in the presence of their bedpal of the moment. Nor should any relationship your lesbian or gay characters have be regarded as emotionally valid, long-lasting, loving, tender, etc. The heroine herself will never ever ever even think about having sex with another woman."
Snort! I just spewed water all over my keyboard! Hilarious! Thanks for the giggle this morning!ReplyDelete
(who always follows those guidelines in her books - NOT!)
I love it. :) Every one of those had me laughing so hard my sides hurt. LOL.
Oh crap! I bet my scene where he chains her to the wall and...well, it probably needs to go. ROFLMAOReplyDelete
All fabulous! But you forgot my personal fave... "Heroine must be shocked at size of hero's sexual organ and express this in some manner, such as 'Will it fit?' round eyes and awe encouraged of course."ReplyDelete
It's a good thing I finished my coffee hours ago or it would be all over my computer!ReplyDelete
But I noticed in #7 Oral Ministrations should include: the heroine must never allow the hero to return the favor or to do it simultaneously and don't ever decribe the act using numbers.
I'm taking notes at a furious pace, and I am SO excited! I can't wait to start applying these wonderful rules to my WIP. Thanks to you, I see publication in my future! You have my undying gratitude. :)ReplyDelete
I dunno 'bout y'all, but I need either a cold shower or a smoke. Or a smoke while taking a cold shower.ReplyDelete
And apparently I need to trade in my beloved scifi paperbacks for some juicy romance novels.
Uh oh.. is the j-word forbidden also? Damn.
This beats the **** out of the comedy hour.ReplyDelete
Raine wrote: And NO SWALLOWING. The heroine never swallows the unfortunate residue, but rises nimbly to her feet, ready for immediate minty-breathed kissing and hours of post-coital cuddling, with nary so much as a milky mustache.ReplyDelete
Too true. Just think of how much the divorce rate could be lowered by inventing a process that would turn semen into mint-flavored mouthwash.
Tania wrote: I had an ex roommate who'd blush and barely utter the word "toilet paper."ReplyDelete
I had an aunt like that. She called it "roll tissue" and insisted on covering up the spare rolls with crocheted doily things that looked like too-large hats.
Darlene wrote: There goes the scene where the heroine makes a "rubber tree" for the hero.ReplyDelete
Raise your hands -- who else besides me wants to read this book now?
Kristi wrote: I think you stole this advice from one of the "how to write a romance novel" books that my library carries...seriously...Now, why was it that I never bought my own copy of any of those books again?ReplyDelete
It's like Thomas Harris says: being smart spoils a lot of things. :)
Kerry wrote: You will be hearing from our attorney about libel or slander or something like that real soon.ReplyDelete
I have been topped. Kerry wins the internet today. :)
Charlene wrote: Obviously I didn't get the memo.ReplyDelete
Oh, you think? Ha.
Leslie wrote: LeslieReplyDelete
(who always follows those guidelines in her books - NOT!)
I can't think of a better recommendation to read Leslie's books. ;)
JC wrote: I bet my scene where he chains her to the wall and...well, it probably needs to go.ReplyDelete
(perking up) Chains? Yes? Go on.
Lori wrote: All fabulous! But you forgot my personal fave... "Heroine must be shocked at size of hero's sexual organ and express this in some manner, such as 'Will it fit?' round eyes and awe encouraged of course."ReplyDelete
I knew I forgot something, damn it.
All righty ladies - Leslie, JC, Darlene.... What's the titles of these WIP's? Hmmmmmmmmm????ReplyDelete
LOL, Thanks Lynn! Glad I put the juice down before reading this.
Hehe, my favorite is the Lord of the Rings one... really, what _would_ be different?ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for posting these! I laughed so much...
And, now that I know how to work my RSS thing, I'm subscribed to your blog! *does a little dance*
That was hilarious! I love your sense of humor! Haha... while reading this, I was reminded of something gawd-awful I wrote years ago...ReplyDelete
Having started reading romances at the tender age of 10 (all the library had left for me at that point) which was 40 years ago, my choice was Grace Livingston Hill (they might hold hands) or Georgette Heyer. I "grew" up as romances grew up, so this is funny and very, very true for a long time.ReplyDelete
Of course, now that I have a preference for fur and fang, it's even funnier.