Now that I have your attention *G*.
Let’s talk a little bit about avoiding clichés. Most of us know by now not to use the “have the heroine look in the mirror” trick as a means of describing our character. It’s cliché and doesn’t usually work since most of us don’t look in the mirror and notice our heart-shaped face, our azure blue eyes and dainty features. We just want to make sure we look presentable.
Lately in historical submissions, I’ve noticed a trend toward one of the oldest cliché’s in the writing industry. The Naked People Cliché.
Scenario one: it’s such a hot day that our heroine strips off her twenty five pounds of petticoats, her corset and the dress she can’t get into without assistance and dives into the inviting and deserted (so she thinks) pond. Or lake. Or stream. First of all, in an age where just the sight of a woman’s bare ankle was considered forbidden, I’m not convinced. Think about it; women were considered little more than property and had no rights—is our heroine really going to strip down to her birthday suit and go for a dip? When any man could come upon her and take advantage? Put it another way. If you were on a beach by yourself on a hot day—would you do it?
Back to our story. At some point, while the heroine is blissfully swimming along, usually with either her behind or her breasts bobbing along the water’s surface, our hero comes along. And joins her. Now depending on what point in the book we’ve reached, this may be their first meeting (cliché!) or this may lead to the first love scene (another cliché!)
Scenario two. Heroine is in a hotel, usually with the hero, sometimes sharing a room, sometimes not. She’s hot and dusty and is more than ready for a soak in a nice hot bath. Soapy bubbles may or may not be covering her naughty bits, but invariably, the hero comes through the door. She shrieks. He smirks. Cue love scene.
I’m not saying that you can’t find a way to make this different, so please, if you must have naked characters, feel free to surprise me. But don’t fall into the cliché trap.
BTW it goes without saying that naked heroes and heroines are perfectly acceptable in love scenes. And think about it… having the hero, at an appropriate time, remove that corset, that dress she can’t get into without help, those twenty five pounds of petticoats…. Well that’s a lot more fun than having his work already done for him, isn’t it?
Happy writing, everyone!