As I was showering this past Saturday morning, I experienced an epiphany of extraordinary, and somewhat embarrassing proportions. First, let me explain...
As an English Major I have a class called Topics in English, where I choose a subject I want to research, ask one of my instructors to work with me on it, and then write a hugely huge paper, thus ending my tenure as a college student. Sounds easy, right? Really? Yeah, not so much. The possibilities with an English major are endless, so while I have over a year to begin this exhausting process, I started worrying about the second my advisor told me about this class. This is obviously not a paper I can procrastinate on and complete at the last moment.
So over the past month now, two websites I frequent have been having two different arguments ongoing- one website is discussing the responsibilities of a fiction writer to his or her readers, and the other is attempting to have a intellectual discussion regarding the phenomena of the Rape Romance genre (which is fairly extinct at this point). While they may not relate to each other at first, there is a subtle connect between them that astounded me.
The discussion regarding the responsibilities of a writer is frequented by many published writers, all posting their opinions eloquently and backing them up with their own experiences. The other side of the argument has those who may be authors (I'm not sure, but I think at least one is) and claim that commercial fiction can be irresponsible because it leads a reader into a world that in no way resembles reality, and therefore is dangerous to those who cannot differentiate the two. That it's untruthful. Interesting...yes? Check out this blogpost by published UK author Rosy Thornton about her views, and make sure you read the comments! She has an interesting view about the "alpha male" that I find intriguing and I both agree and disagree.
The other discussion is attempting to understand the Rape Romance genre. The subject of rape produces heightened emotions anyway, but when you speak in terms of it being romantic then many have trouble wrapping their head around such a book. This thread attempted to discuss why some women read these types of books,and emphasized that those who do read them aren't promoting rape as romantic. They are reading a work of fiction. This has ties with the responsibilities of a writer, because many condemn those authors for romanticizing rape. Ah ha...see where I'm going?
So, the epiphany was to write my hugely huge research paper on those responsibilities in regards to women's fiction in general. What kind of impact does it have on readers, and do they have trouble with telling them apart from reality? I am an avid romance reader, but trust me, I can definitely tell the two worlds apart. I see it as an escape from the real world, with its ringing phones, crying babies, deadlines, etc. But can everyone? Should writers make an effort to put some "truth" into their fiction and make it more realistic to world we live in today?
I plan to interview, interview, interview! No one will be spared, so watch out!