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Hello, and welcome to the LA Stories. Enjoy a dip into romance in the city of creative dreams!

Being a Writer

The difference between writing and being a writer is, I think, that someone who considers herself a writer is more apt to think twice or three times, or for a year, before writing something down.

Very little escapes on impulse.  Very little is unconsidered.  Hitting the "publish" button is always done with a degree of finality and a sense of consequence.

With that in mind, I highlight this paragraph from a TelevisionWithoutPity recap of the March 17, 2104 episode of "The Blacklist." 

"Somewhere in all of this Ressler finds a pregnancy test in Audrey's shit, and goes nuts about it, whatever, the usual. Women aren't intrinsically interesting or real in their own right, you have to knock them up before they have what we men consider souls. A woman is set dressing, but a baby is like a mirror to how special you yourself are, as a man. That's why it's so much sadder when women die knocked up! It's so much more than simply an inconvenience at that point."


This was particularly striking, to me, for two main reasons.

1. The rest of the recap is laugh-out-loud funny, especially if you have seen the episode; but this paragraph is, while couched in language that fits it to the rest of the essay, very serious.

2. It's true.


I am quite sure that the writer of this recap ("when I think about you, I stab myself" by Jacob Clifton) thought four or five times about leaving that paragraph in.  As a professional media blogger he has undoubtedly seen this trope (the death of the pregnant wife or girlfriend or colleague) countless times.  I have myself.

And while I never thought about it quite that way, I've always been deeply annoyed by the lazy, devicey shorthand conveyed by pregnancy in fiction.  It is exactly as Mr. Clifton lays it out.  Women are, especially in crime stories, dispensable; and are more likely to come to a bad end (rape, torture, dismemberment) than men.  

But if you are supposed to really care about the woman's fate, it's very common that she turns out to have been pregnant.  It's like she matters so much more if she's pregnant.

The same thing is infuriatingly common in romance fiction.  If the author wants to manipulate you into really caring about whether Hero and Heroine get together, Heroine gets pregnant.

Obviously, that's not the only reason that a writer will create a pregnancy.  But it's certainly one reason why I really hate the "secret baby" trope in romance.


I think Mr. Clifton has gotten to the bottom of something very true and very troubling about the way our culture still views women, even in 2014, even in increasingly secular America.


To read the whole piece:

Set Dressing -- #8

The Reader, on Books (and writing)