Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Heroines, and their dopplegangers

It has come to my attention that the weaker of my characters is, in fact, my heroines.

Okay, so I make it sound like a huge news bulletin. In truth, I knew this. It's not all that uncommon to have a particular gender in one book or another be the stronger persona to write. Mine is typically the male, but every now and then, the woman roars.

Long and loud.

But how do you keep a heroine from falling flat when you know she's not the strength-giving character of the book? How do you make her realistic, not overdone or underwhelming? It takes a little blood, sweat and tears.

Blood = What is it about this heroine that makes her real? What sets her apart and makes her a real force to reckon with in the book? Is it her ability to overcome, to adapt, to lead? With my characters the heroine is usually spunky and determined, but it's hidden, kind of like the insides of the Hershey's Kiss. They are strong women in their own right, but like women are made, they have their soft spots. And usually it's because of the guy in the story that they learn to accept that it's okay to own that soft spot and be proud of it.

Sweat = Do your heroines work to overcome their fears? Do they battle tooth and nail for their beliefs? Then you have a strong character. Make them passionate in whatever they are doing, give them the ability to reason. The more a heroine reacts to the world around her in various ways, the more a reader will connect with her, see something of herself in that heroine.

Tears = This is where some heroines I think have begun to fall short. We're cutting back the emotion to make them too "modern" if you will, or by-passing it to get to whatever the publisher has deemed priority for that book to be published. Women are women. Nurturers, yes, but leaders and strategists. Don't downplay feminine humanity or they will fall flat.

Yes, all of the above can be overblown and overdone, the same as an alpha male can be, prompting us to burn the whole thing between the cover flaps.

Think of all the women we see on TV now. Most are savvy, smart to brilliant (depending on the show), independent, but still feminine in their own right to care, express, and nurture through their personas. Now think of the classic shows or movies. What are the resemblances in the basis of the heroine characters between then and now? Quite a few if you consider them.

Heroines are very varied, indepth and incredible characters to any book plot. Realism makes a page turner, even in a world of make-believe.


Anonymous said...

I was looking for inspiration in regards to strong female characters, and my internet search stumbled upon your blog.

I particularly agree with what you wrote about women and emotions. Women do experience emotions as a source of strength, and if you deny any character's emotions, they become weak.
Like automatons who are there merely to be there. What are they learning? How are they growing?

By the way, looking through your book selection, I have found a few new books to read! I just love a sizzling romance!

Have a wonderful day,

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Wonderful post, Diana! You hit the nail right on the head, providing a concise lineup of what needs to be touched to create a fully realized heroine.

Hats off! I really enjoyed this post.



TJ said...

This is a great post. To a certain degree, I don't mind a soft and sweet heroine as long as she has her own personality that is well developed.

Now, the flat heroine- argh! lol.

Sandy said...

Wonderful post, Diana. I like a strong heroine who shows a soft side, too.

Linda Mooney said...

Good observations, Di. Makes me want to go back and double-check my own heroines. As authors, I think we're too close to our creations to see the faults in them that others would.

Diana Castilleja said...

Thanks guys. I'm glad it worked. And thank you Roxanne. I hope you enjoy what you read, from any of the RBA authors.