Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Matter of Trust

How do you establish trust between your heroine and hero? Especially in a contemporary, non-paranormal book. Most of my books have characters who have known each other for a long time—several years at least. But I find my paranormal and sci-fi books are having the same theme. As I get older, I'm having a hard time having my hero and heroine "meet in a bar" and hook up or whatever. Why? Cause people are just bitch assed crazy! I mean, what if he's a serial killer? What if he takes her and just disappears or sells her into slavery to some third world drug lord? What if he drugs her and cuts out her liver for the illegal organ market?

I mean, seriously!

I have a kid. I guess I'd just be alone with him for the rest of my life if I no longer had my husband because I simply don't trust people. If he's not someone I've known all my life, forget it. I'm not going anywhere with him that's not public and nowhere with my son with us.

As a younger woman, I didn't think twice about a new boyfriend. It was great. 

So, is this something others feel strongly about? As an author of fiction, where anything can be true and the hero really is a knight in shining armor, I find myself compensating. In my latest book, as I was reading the proof, I noticed it quite a bit. The guy is on the run and suspected of being a cold-blooded killer, but she "just knows and trust him." I repeat several times how she trust her gut, and that she made her living by trusting her instincts. To me, it wasn't comfortable. If I had been the heroine, he stays chained to the wall, even if he is my only hope of living through the day. I'd rather die on my own terms than have someone make me miserable before I die.

Anyway, I just wondered if anyone else struggles with this.


  1. Snort. Wait till your editor reads this.


  2. well, it's my own fault. besides, she's so used to my quirks, she probably didn't notice it either. *groan*

  3. Better safe than sorry. As long as the wall chain reaches to the bed...

  4. this is good stuff Marteeka and a da*n good question. While our stories may feature a hero that the heroine doesn't know...generally the reader knows him through other books. It is difficult to get past that 'it was a cold and dreary night/dark stranger' fear (and rightfully so)we often have as women so when an author goes that route he/she must SHOW the reader pretty quickly that HERO is a good guy. Books where I as a reader am scared for the heroine don't usually get finished.

    A lot of times our heroines are able to trust the HERO because she trusts OTHERS who KNOW the hero.

    And btw, we're t-shirting that phrase: "because people are bitch-assed crazy." Classic.

  5. thanks for the comments guys! and well, people ARE just bitch-assed crazy!

  6. I run into the same issue. I'm a cynic and have been all my life (ask my dad). I want to trust people but I know human nature. As a result, my heroines know human nature too. It's hard to see the "fall in love instantly and rush off to marriage" scenario when you're thinking he might kill you in your sleep and sell your organs. Writing for CP has definitely opened up that can of worms.

    I've actually read a few novels (so they had time to develop the relationship) that start off with the guy and girl just hooking up and living HEA right after meeting each other in a seedy-looking bar two seconds ago. I had one eyebrow cocked in disbelief the whole book even though I kept reading. It was a fun book but that one thing bugged the hell out of me. I kept thinking the heroine was real lucky to be alive.

    Fated/soul mates is usually the way to go but always feels like a cop out to me. I use it and love it. Don't get me wrong. But sometimes I feel like it's too easy that way. I'm the type of person who likes to make things difficult for myself and my characters. Most of the time it's not on purpose. :P

    Not giving the heroine a choice is usually the way I go. Heroine is in mortal danger and she has no choice but to trust the hero. They usually fall in bed because the mortal danger forces them to sleep next to each other and the nearness just overrides good sense.

    It is fun trying to figure out how to toss these two people together, if they've just met, and keep them together believably for the sake of an HEA in a novella.

    Zenobia Renquist

  7. Ahhh... you see Zenobia, I'm an EXTREME cynic. I think you can know someone for his entire life and not truly know him. I've known my hubby for almost two decades, and he still does things that make me go "Really? I mean... REALLY?"

    So we pays our money and we take our chances.

    How about giving the readers clues that he can't really be a killer? In my hubby's case, I suspected that when he carefully carried a spider outside so 'he could live a long and happy life' that, yeah, he might not be killer material.

  8. I constantly struggle with this because I sometimes want to write a story where there is a spark, connection, and two strangers are immediatly drawn to each other. I find that hard to play out in a non-paranormal story because the real world keeps intruding. My real world gives me facts that the majority of women experience acquaintance rape not stranger rape and I struggle with how to carry suspension of disbelief with that fact. In the end I have to ground myself in creating a world where my hero and heroine can have that spark and connection that may lead them to a place I would never visit in the real world.

  9. I met my DH of thirty years in a bar. The only reasons he had a chance with me were that he was introduced to me by someone I knew and trusted, he and I shared a career in common, and --I have to admit-- he was a cute teddy bear nerd. I have a thing for nerds. Then I saw his library. He swore for years I married him for his books. LOL!

  10. Marteeka, I understand what you mean. Even when I was young I tended to be very cautious. Part of what I love about fiction is the fantasy of the characters "knowing" or "sensing" that they can trust each other. I love the idea of the bad boy or the stranger having integrity and I like the fantasy of characters taking a risk and ending up with the best relationship of their lives instead of tragedy. In real life it usually doesn't work that way and I'm all for caution, but in fiction I like the risk and the fantasy of destined mates and a payoff for taking a chance against the odds.

  11. I'm working on a situation like that right now in my paranormal menage that's
    tied to the world in Demonic Persuasion.

    What do you do when a heroine has learned there is no unconditional love at an
    early age? When the two people who were supposed to protect her failed her?

    How do you do it in 36k words?

    you build an impenetrable external family and find a way to bring back some
    semblance of normalcy with the little things that bring comfort. In my case. The
    Hero sent one of his enforcers to her childhood home to find the things he knew
    would bring her security. His first action. The resident Vampire and doc found
    her a small private studio for her art, as a place to escape to when she became
    overwhelmed and needed to be alone to process. Construct the plot to fit her
    needs emotional and physical and that doesn't mean that all things needed to
    care for her will be pleasant.

    I'm almost done revising it and doing fine tuning detail on the world build so
    vivid you can feel like you live there.

    I think that we get so involved with the how to make it work in life and in
    writing that the small things are forgotten.

    Think like a parent who's nurturing, how to you recapture that, imagine your
    hero is an older brother, or a protective son. How would they protect their
    mother, their sister or little brother or parentless cousins.

    Trying to think of some big way to earn trust is not plausible because it's the
    small things that trend up to the larger actions that cement how we trust. If we
    do. If you have someone who can't trust or has walls thicker than steel vault
    doors with mortared cement walls layered by the dozens in front of those then
    you have to get a bit more creative.

    Even in paranormal you have to be careful with linking because it's intrusive
    and not everyone likes their privacy intruded on.

    You also have to stop and think hmmm. I know it's for her or his best interest
    but if I go this route will they be pissed off that I outmanuevered their ploy
    to not deal with issues or more mad at the act of intrusion.

    Most likely it'll be the first. Because they've manipulated so many people into
    not making them fix things that they'll be blindsided and shocked that someone
    didn't fall for their line of bullshit.

    in this type of situation. I combat it with sputturing indignation and a bit of
    humor to de escalate the last part of the scene to move on.

    Just more thoughts

  12. thanks SO much to everyone who commented on this! It's a great exercise to think about this and, maybe, write a quickie involving strangers meeting and hooking up. :D

    I appreciate everyone's responses. really great stuff here!