17 May 2011

A billion Wicked Thoughts

In the upcoming book A Billion Wicked Thoughts, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam studied thousands of romance novels looking for clues about social expectations. 

After analyzing 15,000 Harlequin books, they came up with the most popular professions for heroes in romance novels. The complete list follows belowwhat do you think?
1. Doctor
2. Cowboy
3. Boss
4. Prince
5. Rancher
6. Knight
7. Surgeon
8. King
9. Bodyguard
10. Sheriff

Okay, so now I'm trying to think of my writing (published and unpublished to think of what my heroes do).
Human with a Twist he's basically an antiques deals (but not her boss)
Redemption's Kiss he's a police officer (is this close enough to Sheriff??)

What does the occupation of our favourite heroes tell us about ourselves. Of course studies like this need to be read with a critical eye - after all, any one who reader Mills & Boon/Harlequin know they are heavily skewed to certain tropes (& hero employment choices). But just because one is reading with a crietal eye - doesn't mena it's not interesting. They also say...

"While modern radiophysicists have discovered black holes and developed the means for communicating with extraterrestrials, scientists studying desire still struggle to identify basic differences between the sexual interests of men and women… Quasars don’t close the curtains out of modesty or suspicion. In contrast, most of us are unwilling to let curious scientists photograph us as we tumble between the sheets. Radio waves may be invisible, but they don’t try to deceive curious physicists and they’re incapable of self-deception. Humans are guilty of both."

They don't stop with what our heroes do, they look at how we describe them as well:
"...We analyzed the text of more than ten thousand romance novels published from 1983 to 2008 to determine the most common descriptions of the hero’s physical appearance.

Here are the seven most frequent masculine features:

And the seven most common adjectives used to describe masculine features?

...no synonym for penis appears in the hundred most common physical descriptors used to describe the romance hero. If we wished to describe the ideal-looking hero, we could use the most common two-word physical descriptions: the perfect hero boasts “blue eyes,” a “straight nose,” “high forehead,” and “square jaw” together making a “handsome face.” His head is framed by “dark hair” which accents the “white teeth” in his “sensual mouth” curved into a “crooked smile.” He stands tall with “broad shoulders,” a “broad chest,” “narrow waist,” “flat stomach,” “strong arms,” “big hands,” “big feet,” and “long legs”though the heroine’s eye might ultimately be drawn to his “powerful thighs.”"

Mmmmmm, he sounds nice :)

Follow this link to read an excerpt from the book. 
And yes this stuff fascinated me so expect a couple more blog based on their material :)

1 comment:

Leigh D'Ansey said...

Interesting reading. I'm not keen on reading about doctors in romance, although I don't mind them in other genre. Ranchers, bosses and bodyguards probably do it for me.