Friday, November 21, 2008

No More Naked People

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!


Renee Lynn said...

Well said, Nic. I agree that everything can be done fresh, if done a little differently, but you have tagged a couple of good cliches :)


Susan Macatee said...

LOL! When I decided to try writing romance novels, I read a great variety of books and I did see a lot of those naked people scenes you describe. In fact, it was in so many stories, I thought maybe it was a standard part of the genre. But fortunately, I didn't have any scenes like that in my first romance novel.

Eliza Knight said...

LOL! Guilty! Definitley written a scene like that before :) But I think I've learned.

Great blog!!!

Unknown said...

How well I remember reading several of scenes exactly like the ones you describe. Different is always better.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Well, hmmm! It all made sense until I went to see the new Western, "Appaloosa," and there she is, Renee Zellweiger, stripped down to her completely naked self, cavorting in a stream with a completely naked outlaw. In the scene before that, she was astride a horse, fully clothes in all her petticoats. Please don't smack me, but it is Hollywood and readers tend to look for a little bit of "Hollywood" in their books.

Beth Trissel said...

Very interesting to ponder. I've read those sorts of scenes too, and am guilty of having written one and cut it long ago. Thanks!

NicDarienzo said...

Thanks, ladies, for the wonderful comments.

If you really like those scenes, that's okay. Just be sure to throw in a surprise or two for the reader--a little something unexpected before the lovin' begins.

Old Lady Saloon Keeper said...

You rock, girl