Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Harrowing Heroine

These are pretty simple, though blending is important in heroine archetypes. I haven't met a reader yet who doesn't like a fully fleshed out heroine.
Beyond Cinderella: The Eight Female Archetypes (more info at Romance Central workshops)
The Boss - The "Take Charge" woman: outspoken and persuasive, confident and competitive
The Seductress - "I Will Survive" woman: mysterious and manipulative, distrusting and cynical
The Spunky Kid - Spirited and loyal, reliable and supportive, more of a "tomboy"
The Free Spirit - Genuine and fun-loving, impulsive, an "original"
The Waif - Classic "damsel in distress": Child-like innocence, naive and docile, she endures
The Librarian - Conscientious, orderly, bright; she leads with her brain, not her looks
The Crusader - A woman on a mission: tenacious, headstrong, courageous
The Nurturer - Altruistic to a fault; calm, optimisic, a listener, pleasant, takes care of everyone
Since these are pretty basic, I'm going to give you a few archetypes that have lost their popularity.

The Witch of a Bitch – we saw a lot of these from HQN in the 80s and then they were reinvented in the 90s as the female superhero in paranormals. These characters were too hard to digest.

The ingĂ©nue – these poor characters got slaughtered when editors realized these were very young characters. Juliet, from Romeo and Juliet, was this archetype. Unfortunately, if you are writing historical stories, you are going to run into the limited life span and the need to procreate in adolescent years.

The Intellectually Challenged – Oh Chick Lit really hurt this archetype, mainly because it went to such an extreme it became a question of, 'how could anybody love this girl?'. I can't blame only Chick Lit, but they went too Sex in the City, Legally Blonde and shopaholic, not have a care in the world 'cause I have daddy's money. The one thing they missed was that they came out in the visual media. Visuals helped the Alicia Silverstones, Reese Witherspoons appear in a better light.

So, what do you prefer for your heroine? Give her the spunkiness of the Spunky Kid or the maternal loving of the Nurturer.

Cheers and until next time – happy writing,



Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

I admit it's fun to combine archetypes and layer a full woman. Though you gotta be careful that the mix merges together and doesn't remain away like oil and water.

Personally, I think it depends on the story. One heroine archetype blend that works for one plot wouldn't for another, so it's really a new process at every new book.

Good post again, T.J.



Sandy said...

You really gave this some thought, T.J.. Excellent, post. My sister is the nurturer. I used to be the spunky kid, but no longer. lol Maybe, that's why I'm having trouble with this latest story. Hm.