Thursday, August 24, 2006

Survival Tactics?

This has certainly been my week to blog :D I had a turn at the Triskelion Authors Blog and one at Sisters of the Night. You might want to check them out since they bear a little bit on what I’m writing today.

In fact, all three of these blog posts that I’m doing arose from a chance viewing of a Sci Fi channel movie that I saw last weekend. Mansquito. The title is really a forewarning that the movie isn’t all that, right? Somehow, this prisoner gets injected with some odd compound that ends up morphing him into a giant mosquito. So okay, mosquitoes are the bane of my existence, they come from miles away just to snack on me. And I don’t hesitate to kill them if I get the chance. It’s a love/hate kind of relationship and maybe that’s why I watched some of this movie.

I say some because after the third of fourth victim fell flat on the ground or stood rooted to the spot, I had to change the channel. I have a very low tolerance for idiocy. Allow me to explain. The first victim–the prisoner’s girlfriend–sees him mutating into a giant mansquito. What would you do? I’d run like hell. What did she do? She threw herself onto the couch, screaming. Oh yeah, there’s a survival tactic–NOT. The second victim saw the mansquito coming at him. Did he run like hell? Nope. He grew roots apparently and ended up as snack food. Same for the next victim (another man). A fourth guy did run but tried hiding himself behind a flimsy pile of scrap wood while Mansquito was dining on his previous victim. I’d have been in the next state by the time he (Mansquito) slurped up the last drop of blood.

Why do movies portray these monster victims as Too Stupid To Live? Shock value? A chance to show how effective the rampaging monster can be? Or maybe it’s a subconscious wish to improve the gene pool? Your guess is as good as mine.

Unfortunately, I see some of this same TSTL behavior in some books, mostly from heroines (and I use the term loosely). I’m not talking about the heroine who is suddenly faced by the sexy vampire or shapeshifter. I’m not talking about the heroine who comes face-to-face with an intriguing alien.

No, what I’m talking about is the heroine who is attacked by the bad guy (human or monster–makes no difference) and WAITS for the hero to save her. Okay, so I’ll agree that the hero needs to be able to save his heroine from time-to-time. That’s what heroes do and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But occasionally I’d like to see the heroine set about her own escape plan, try to fight back with whatever weapons she can get her hands on. I’d like to see her TRY to survive on her own. She may not have a chance of success. We do have to make it hard for her, after all, thus allowing the hero to be heroic but she should try and, once in a while, she ought to be successful.

In fact, occasionally, it’s nice to see the heroine SAVE the hero. We live in a liberated age, one where a man and woman should be partners. To have the man always responsible for the heroine’s safety is, well, a bit archaic. It gives him all the power. But a partnership? Let’s think about it.

Even the best, larger-than-life hero needs someone to watch his back or give him that tiny bit of help he needs to conquer the villain. And even the most kick-ass heroine is going to bite off more than she can chew as she tries to save the universe. Neither is weak when alone but they’re so much stronger when they’re together.

And, to me, that partnership, that strength, is important to setting the stage for love–which is the ultimate goal (of the writer, never the characters) for a romance book.

So...partnership (and love) as a survival tactic? I think so.


MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

As I read your post, I did a mental cataloging of my heroines, and while most of them fit into the category of 'sister help-thyself' I do have one or two, that do to execution...find that task not so easy to accomplish. I do, however, also have these heroines become quick opportunists. Or at least formuate a plan, even if they have to wait to put it into motion. I believe any 'thinking' person would try to look for a way out of their dire straights even if all seems lost. Who wants to root for someone who shrivels up and refuses to act? The only time I would find that interesting would be if it came at the beginning of the book and the heroine—or hero for that matter—had to overcome a great fear in order to pull their fat out of the fire in the end. Then you have the growth arc of the character and all. Usually good stuff.


Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Great post, Lynda! Having flattened my share of mosquitos this summer [they love me too] I'd probably pick up the nearest heavy object and give Mansquito and a concussion or two. But that's just me. I do prefer heroines who can at least hold their own. Everyone needs to be rescued sometimes, but you have to be able to kick a$$ now and then on your own.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Kat, I don't think I'd categorize your heroines as helpless...none of them sound like they're just waiting for the 'knight on a white charger' to come rescue them. And that's what I really object to :D

Jennifer, yeah, heavy objects on Mansquito work for me...but if I saw that it/he didn't go down, I'd be outta there :D

Skylar Masey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Skylar Masey said...

Fabulous blog Lynda! I whole heartedly agree that the romance is much richer when the hero & heroine work together as a team. It's another way to visually express their unity.

In TIES OF VALOR I have the heroine saving the day more than once. Then when Zara gets herself in a pickle she can't get out of Awyn does the "hero" thing. But she's still a heroine who stands on her own two feet.

BELIEVE IN ME is more of an even mixture of the hero and heroine exchanging help. Not because they view it as a barter, but because deep down they know it's what they have to do. And for them it's all about working as a team to meet the challenge--a power sucking maniac--head-on. By doing this my heroine shows the hero that he doesn't always have to be the guy that saves the day.

And I wholeheartedly agree that there is way to much TSTL going on on tv & at the theater. :0)

Skylar Masey said...

I have got a nominee for the TSTL heroine--the girlfriend from CRANK. I kept thinking, someone please do all of us moviegoers a favor and off her in the crosfire! But of course she lives to sleep in without a care in the world for another day.