Round Robin – January – Changes

How can contemporary fiction cope with the rapid changes of today’s world?

January’s question in the UK could hardly be more pertinent. As a writer of romance, I am grounded in its favourite tropes. Take ‘rags-to-riches’: think Cinderella.

Fast forward to 21st century and many publishing houses will welcome a rags-to-riches story with delight. Look at real life where, for example, two beautiful young women married into the House of Windsor. Neither were in rags, but both were commoners and they both got their prince.

And now the trope may have to have a twist because, for the younger prince at least, the Happy ending of the romance turned out to be a ‘Happy for Now’ ending. Apparently, he can’t have both the woman and the job. He’s chosen the woman.

In terms of romantic tropes, there have been other seismic shifts in recent years. The ‘Me-too’ movement has caused a lot of re-assessment. I find it particularly difficult to navigate as I like to write historic fiction. Is it acceptable any longer to write your story as you know it would have played out (from the many written sources available to us)? Do you have to create each new hero as a person with today’s sensibilities?

If we look at the theme in the scientific and technological fields, then there’s other coping to be done, too. My colleagues who write romantic suspense or straightforward detective fiction, can be heard muttering about mobile phones. How often can you have your heroine out of reception or battery charge, or both? Does DNA analysis remove all doubt over guilt? Well, no, as it turns out. Secondary transfer can creat doubt – at least enough for a competent lawyer to work with.

Personally, I think writers are about character and character is always there for us to describe, to use, to exploit. Regardless of how they do it, or did it, there will always be people whose will prevails and there will always be natural victims. There will always be people with minds open to persuasion and those whose minds are shut like a clam.

The writer does have to watch out for the detail. If it was possible to ask a female candidate whether she expected to have children in a 1950s job interview, it isn’t in today’s world. But then, detail always was the Devil.

Other views on this topic can be found by clicking on the links below.



Skye Taylor
Dr. Bob Rich
Helena Fairfax
Connie Vines
Judith Copek
Beverley Bateman
Fiona McGier
Anne Stenhouse
Rhobin L Courtright