10 Tips for Writing a 21st Century Virgin

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This week, Editorial Assistant Nicola Caws gives us her top 10 tips for writing a virgin heroine in the 21st century!

The virgin heroine is a classic trope in romance, and no-one does it better than our brilliant Harlequin authors. But how do you get around the subject of virginity in the 21st century, when women and men both have sexual freedom at their fingertips? How do you make sure that your heroine’s virgin status is believable, contemporary and strong?!

  1. A 21st century virgin doesn’t have to be a trembling wallflower, or a paragon of innocence. Surprise your readers!
  2. Show off your virgin heroine’s independence. She may have spent little time in the bedroom, but think of the career she could have built up in those precious hours not spent underneath the sheets…
  3. Use her virginity to explore something about your heroine. Now that ‘no sex before marriage’ is a choice, rather than a social necessity, if we encounter a virgin heroine, we want to know why she has not given this part of herself to anyone yet.
  4. For a modern heroine, virginity can be a sign of vulnerability underneath a much tougher exterior. Used well, it is a wonderful way of showing how your character has reacted to something in her past, for example, or a physical symbol of her lack of trust.
  5. If your heroine has chosen to be a virgin as a result of a terrible experience in her past, it’s important to see that her hero is understanding; someone who will help support her and help her build her sexual confidence, in the most enjoyable of ways!
  6. Give your virgin heroine the control. It’s up to her when, where and with whom, she loses her virginity. And don’t let your readers (or the hero) forget it!
  7. Sex is everywhere in the 21st century and much more openly spoken about than ever before. Your heroine may not have done the deed herself, but take care that she doesn’t come across as unrealistically naïve.
  8. The moment when your heroine loses her V-plates, is what everyone (the hero, your readers and of course the heroine herself) has been waiting for. Make it memorable!
  9. Given that your hero is unlikely to expect his 21st century heroine to be a virgin, take care when it comes to his reaction to the news. It’s important to show how this fact piques his curiosity, and his desire to know more about his heroine!
  10. And finally… Subvert the trope! For those of you up for a challenge, remember that heroes can make strong, sympathetic and sexy virgins too.

What’s your favorite book featuring a virgin heroine, and why?  

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Comments

  1. Kimber Li

    All good advice.
    The stumbling block for a lot of writers is personal cynicism. They just can’t believe anyone waits for marriage anymore, or even beyond the age of 20, unless they’re seriously screwed up by religion and/or abuse. Well, the fact is, many do. Including men. It’s just that there’s a lot more noise about NOT waiting.

    Exhibit A: The popularity of Amish Romance, Love Inspired, and Heartwarming Romance.

    Personally, I’ve seen way too much ‘Dark & Sexy’ in the real world and in the genre. I would love to see more virginal heroes and heroines and a story with slow-burning romantic tension. Imagine a hero who wants to make love, but doesn’t out of consideration for the heroine’s emotional or physical needs. What a breath of fresh air that would be! Joy, adventure, loyalty, kindness, true love, yeah, I’m beginning to sound like I’m reading the Princess Bride out loud. Well, it is a much-loved classic!