Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why Kill a Heroine?

She's right. So many male writers who write love stories do kill off the heroine. I remember a best seller in 1970 called "Love Story". The book was, of course, made into a hit movie. Everyone was talking about how grown men were coming out of the theater with tears streaming down their faces. Exaggeration? No, not really. I recall seeing the movie, not being super impressed, but both of the guys (it was a double date) had traces of tears on their faces.
Sparks does it. Segal did it. Shakespeare did it. A lot of notable male authors do it. OK, Shakespeare killed off the hero, too.  Come to think of it, didn't Sparks kill off the hero in The Horse Whisperer?
But why do they do it? I mean why do they kill off heroines? Predominately, anyway. I have a little theory of my own which may or may not hold water.
One word: perfection. It's probably not the best word but it's the best word I can find and what I am thinking may be just a little 'anti-male'. But thinking back on stories I've read I cannot help but draw the conclusion. If the love interest dies she never changes in memory. She remains beautiful, loving, intelligent, and full of laughter. Back to the original word: perfect, whatever attributes she embodies. The love remains perfect. It's never tested by time, marriage, children, and age. There is weeping for her removal at the peak of her life---the 'potential' of their possible idyllic life together. As a couple, they will never bury parents or (heaven forbid!) a child together. He will never forget her birthday and she will never forget he hates green peppers. Time will be frozen while everything is still perfect.
Killing off the heroine preserves all the romantic perfection. It will never change or be challenged by life and its circumstances. It does make for a beautiful love story, doesn't it? Romance . . . love. . . tragedy.
I can't even say I will never write such a story. I might. But I will confess that even though I have said my stories do not start with a theme a writing friend recently found one. After practice pitching both Rain and Snow with her, she found one. Yes, running through the both of them and so simple I was taken aback at first--- Love Endures.
She was right. It's there. I didn't consciously start out with a theme; I was just writing a story.
No, I probably will not kill off a heroine. It goes against my nature and doesn't fit my writing or my philosophy currently. I prefer love to change, grow, and endure.

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