Monday, February 20, 2012

Why Are Our Heroes and Heroines Rich?

As a writer or reader of romantic fiction, has this thought ever crossed your mind? It has mine Hmmm...

Recently I finished one of the Carpathian Novels and it left me wondering over this phenomenon. Of course, characters and story arc come first. And in reality the main characters can be as rich as royalty or as poor as peasants, but as long as their struggles against life lead them to a happy future together, then I’m happy.

For me as a writer it is all in the struggle. Some of the journeys they take will be ones, only they themselves can figure out, and when they do the relationship will be so worth the wait.

When I am plotting a story (yes, I am a die-hard plotter not a pantser), usually one of the leading characters steps up and declares they will be the one with the money. Now whether that means the character(s) will be rolling in the cash by various means such as:

* they worked hard for it
* married for it
* were born into wealth
* had it left as an inheritance
*stole or acquired it by some other ill-begotten means

As a writer this is entirely a matter for my muse to figure out. It may be that one or both are rich, so they can fund their adventures, journeys, and lifestyle expected for the story and move along smoothly.

I know, most people are saying, “Real life isn’t like that?” And perhaps you are right, perhaps not. Many people in real life do work exceptionally hard and save to aquire what they want/need/aspire to have. Some inherit generous amounts from relatives, while others are lucky enough to have ‘old money’ in the family. But in all reality we read stories for the enjoyment of it. A good story gives us pleasure because we go along for the ride and most of those characters need exorbitant amounts of money to live in their world and to carry out what is needed for them to get to the happily ever after.

A Duke for instance who lived between the eighteenth and twentieth century, may own many estates and be responsible for his relatives. In reality we do know this was the case of many of the upper-peerage during the 1800's.

Now, for the story's sake, if he was destitute then he may lose his homes, carriages, servants, the list is endless, but in other words his ‘lifestyle’ would be over and he would have to think of doing something radical to turn his situation around. A lot of the time this meant selling assets not entailed, like carriages, horseflesh estates or he would have to marry a woman who was wealthy in her own right.

And it seems there were plenty of those about, a widow, an heiress, distant cousins, rich daughters of business men from other countries, were often the go or perhaps the ugly, ‘rich’ woman next door.(Plenty of story plots there) But why does it make sense to us as the reader, that we want money to be no object for our hero/heroine as they go about their lives? I mean, even the blasted romanticized Pirates were loaded. *grin* But of course, who'd have it any other way.

So far, for most of the leading men in the books I want to write, money is no object, *wink* only two of them will fall under the captive spell of wealthy women. But we'd be interested in your thoughts on the topic. 

Do you rather a wealthy hero or heroine in your historical stories you write or enjoy to read and why is that? Or perhaps it does not really matter, as long as it works! 
Let us know your opinion on the way you feel about our heroic characters' financial positions?



Elle Fynllay said...

Interesting question Maryde. I think rather than wealth, it is power that we like our heroes to have. Consequently, with power comes wealth. We like our heroes to be in control, to sweep the heroine off her feet and, of course, to live happily ever after, in a manner, we would like to become accustomed to.

Maggi Andersen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maggi Andersen said...

Made me think, Mary. In historical romances power and control seem de rigueur. Heroes have to be someone the reader looks up to. They are never going to be losers. They may not be good looking - Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre, they might have doubtful parentage, - Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Even if they begin with nothing - Adrian in The Black Hawk, they rise to prominence. I've written only one Regency historical where the man needed money and married for it - Love and War, but he had a great estate and was a charismatic earl.

Allison Butler said...

Hi Maryde,

Thanks for the thought provoking post. For me, I don't believe having money is a must for either the hero or the heroine. I think it's more important for the hero to have heroic qualities and for the heroine to be sympathetic. I guess it really depends on each character's goals and what motivates them. But if one of them or both have money, then so be it:)

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, Mary.

I often wonder why I make all my characters wealthy. I think it's because I'm in no way flush with cash myself, so I like to live a little through my wealthy characters.

Tam :)

Sandra Sookoo said...

Interesting post. I'm on the opposite side of the scale I think. When I write my historicals, rarely do my characters have power or wealth lol I like to see character overcome or live alongside their circumstances without wealth and money easing their way :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, in that power and wealth seem to be great bed partners.

Maggie great simulations of characters there. I was also thinking of the beast (beauty & the beast) Yep not so handsome but wealth was there and also the qualities of his character.

Which makes me think , you are right Allison personal goals are definitely a big part of H/H in the story.

Tamara, I like what you said because that's part of what drives me, the dream that it would be lovely to have a disposable income at your finger
When we think [historically] what they spent on seamstresses, baubles, gambling, horses etc, their world was living up to all the expectations of wealth. At least for the show anyway.

I always feel at least one of my Leading characters has to have the money.
I can't say I have read a novel yet where both H/H [leading characters]were paupers.

....interesting thought though?

Grace Burrowes said...

As an author, money can be an amplifier for the character's traits. A rich fellow can put money to depraved purposes or benevolent ones, his money can isolate him or connect, etc. It's a prop like clothing that has to be present in some degree, so why not use it?

That said, there are some wonderful novels written about "fish out of water," ie, the street urchin in the mansion, the born lady trying to pass herself off as a tavern wench. Must think about this...

Alison Stuart said...

Interesting subject, Tam

The sad fact is that the poor and the middle class are dull. They worked every hour that god gave them, had Sundays off to go to church and not much time, energy or money for anything else in between. Not sure I see much scope for a romping romance between the dairy maid and the boy who mucks out the stable. I don't think romance even came into it. There may been love and attraction but the dairy maid married the boy WMOTS, went straight back to work, had fifteen children and died by the time she was 35. Not sure it is a story that would interest me as a reader (except in literature)

The rich had time and the money to indulge romance. It is fun when they cross paths with the poor and downtrodden or if they find themselves suddenly poor and downtrodden but I am afraid the idle rich have much more scope for fun.


Anonymous said...

lol ....hadn't thought of it THAT way Alison, but you are right.

Although, I do like it when a main character of the *ton* goes slumming and finds his/her true love.