reading · writing

the original Fascinating Womanhood and the steps of commitment

I never, ever thought I would write a post that had something to do with Fascinating Womanhood.  Believe it or not, it ties in to writing.  Writing romance, that is.

I found a link that sent me to the original 1922 pamphlets that inspired Helen B. Andelin’s book, Fascinating Womanhood.  The pamphlets are called Fascinating Womanhood, or, the art of attracting men.  (The link will send you to the Harvard University Library’s website.)  I must admit the writing is snappier in those pamphlets than in the book she published, though, in the spirit of the age, they take a more scientific [insert raised eyebrow] view of attracting men.  They come right out and say no matter whether you’re trying to sell insurance or yourself, there are a definite number of steps you have to take and in a certain order before someone is willing to buy what you’ve got.

This intrigued me.

The steps the authors outline are pretty basic.  First, get the man’s attention.  Next, create interest.  After that, you’ll need to create desire.  Once you’ve got those three, you must satisfy the potential customer’s judgment (would this really be worth my time?) before finally calling them to action.

As I thought this over, I realized that every good romance follows these steps as the romance develops.  The characters manage to get each other’s attention, develop interest, then desire, figure out if it’s worth it to be with the other, and finally take action which, in a romance, leads to the HEA (Happily Ever After).  Romances that feel rushed sometimes omit these steps or put them so close together you can’t see which one is which.  You could argue the whole “love at first sight” kind of romance, but I’ve noticed those aren’t the ones people remember best.  And even in those stories, the good ones show that the initial interest/desire needs to be tested and that becomes the core of the story.  In fact, now that I look over what I wrote, it seems obvious.  It’s just, I’ve never put it into steps before.

I’m curious to see what else I find in the book.

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2 thoughts on “the original Fascinating Womanhood and the steps of commitment

  1. What a great piece of writing! Johnny Hopeful was no match for Miss Innocent, as her attire was “the most cuddlesome to be found.” Priceless.

    I’d also had these ideas in my head recently after watching a movie, where the leads fell in love so quickly with one another that the emotional bond (and resulting heartbreak when things went south) was not plausible. There is an art to making love stories believable and therefore enjoyable.

    1. Isn’t it great? 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word “cuddlesome” in any other book I’ve read.

      I know people joke about how romance has a formula, but this is one of those cases where I think having a formula is good. Glad to know someone else is thinking along those lines as well.

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