There are some people out there who will sell you the wisdom that you should be writing your romance books with characters to whom the general woman can relate. (Okay, it’s good advice so far.) This means writing women with conventionally “feminine” professions like florists. (WHAT?!)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t know the first thing about flowers. I can’t keep one alive to save my life. Believe me, I’ve tried. So a florist isn’t exactly to whom I’m going to relate. I could, don’t get me wrong, if she’s prone to putting her foot in her mouth, is sarcastic to a fault, and is obsessed with 80s hair metal. But to generalize and say, “hey, women want characters who are florists” is sort of, well, narrow-minded. Is it just me?
Let’s talk love interests for a moment, shall we? I’ve also heard advice that male love interests should be cast in a profession the general female population fantasizes about. So … firefighters, celebrities, billionaire businessmen, and Chippendales, I guess. Once again, something I find to be a little too inflexible. Be honest, ladies, have all the men you’ve ever fantasized about fallen into those categories? I know mine haven’t always been.
I’ll even let you in on a little secret—I find smart guys sexy. In real life, nothing turns me on more than a man who uses proper grammar. It should come as no surprise that same level of intelligence translates to my book boyfriends as well. Give me a man who knows his way around a chemistry lab or can program computers and I’m a happy girl.
Now, please don’t misconstrue me to say this advice is wrong—for certain publishing houses/editors/agents, it probably is completely true. Always do your research for the wants and desires for the people to whom you are submitting your story.
For us, though, I can tell you, a florist playing footsies with a firefighter isn’t necessarily what we’re looking to publish.
Characters do not have to fit cookie-cutter molds. In fact, I’m kind of tired of reading about billionaire playboys. It’s overdone. It’s trite. It’s (likely) not going to capture my attention.
It’s really simple, I care more about characters who are believable, endearing, and well-developed. If you give me a florist who hits all of these marks, rock on, you’re on your way to appeasing a lot of editors. If, however, you give me a nuclear technician, souvenir shop clerk, or a mechanic, I’m not out at that point because there’s so much more to a person than their profession.
Do the characters jump off the page? Do I like them? Do I care what happens to them? Can I see myself hanging out with them? Can he be my newest book boyfriend? Remember, you’re asking me to sacrifice time in my reality to spend time with your characters in a fantasy—make me feel compelled to do just that.
I’m not saying you can’t write florists or hot firefighters. What I am saying is that you can write anyone. There are a lot more marks that need to be hit than just a profession to make them relatable characters.