A Heroine's Paradise

An author’s insight into the women who make the romance

 
Copyright Rachel Carrington - All Rights Reserved

 

If you’ve written for any length of time then you know characterization is important to shape your characters so that the readers either love them or hate them. A character that leaves the reader feeling ambivalent can be disastrous to your book sales.

You must create a heroine the readers will connect with, someone they can empathize with, sympathize with and root for time and again.

Many different types of heroines exist and which one you use will, of course, depend upon the kind of book you are writing. For the sake of simplification, I’ll be focusing on heroines for romance manuscripts only. 

First, a heroine in a romantic novel is almost never a bitch unless she has a soft side. She can be tough, determined, and even difficult at times, but she has to have a side that makes the reader want her to succeed in her task which we all know is living happily ever after with her very own Prince Charming. If you present your readers with a heroine who is hard as ten-day-old bread, unyielding, and just plain irritating, they won’t be apt to want her to get anything but her comeuppance, and if they return, it will only be to read about her downfall. 

Second, distressed heroines are no longer in vogue. While there is nothing wrong with the hero saves the day stories, books where the heroine is always in peril (especially if she continually puts herself in ridiculous situations) can be tiresome. The last thing a reader wants is a heroine whose life is constantly in jeopardy because of her own unending stream of mistakes. 

Constant complaining, whining, and moodiness aren’t appealing traits in a heroine, either. Readers are looking for a woman who can get the job done without rendering the hero useless, women who are strong, yet vulnerable, determined yet soft and while there is certainly nothing wrong with putting a Sydney Bristow (Alias-ABC) in an action-packed romance, there has to be room for a man in her life. And he has to feel needed, wanted and necessary. 

So now that I’ve told you the types of heroines who generally make readers wince, how do you create this elusive character who is feminine, charming, and can elicit readers loyalty from page one? 

Intelligence is a must. Making your heroine seem dim-witted can leave most female readers with a bad taste in their mouth. And yes, you can create a sharp lead woman without usurping the intelligence of her male counterpart. Think of some of the strongest leading ladies on television, in the movies, and even in your favorite books. Those characters have all been created with intelligence, passion, and a soft side which does not make them any less a strong, female lead. 

Next comes that soft side I mentioned in the paragraph above. There is no such thing as a woman who does not cry or at the very least, succumb to the distress she is feeling at the time. And there is nothing wrong with allowing the reader to see through a heroine’s tough, exterior shell. In romances, the heroine isn’t flawless. She cries, screams, shouts, curses, and even throws things, sometimes. That doesn’t make her any less the heroine. It makes her human. The readers need to see that side of your heroine which they can relate to. 

While some writers don’t feel it’s necessary to include a sense of humor in their heroine, especially if they’re writing romantic dramas, I simply cannot create a female lead without giving her a strong sense of humor and sharp wit. Is it required that your heroine laugh several times throughout your story? No, but page after page of morose drama can be tiresome and if you consider your own life, you probably don’t go a day without laughing even during the worst of times. The same should be said of your character. 

So putting the characteristics together, intelligence, softness, and wit, I have my female lead. Oh, there are some nuances that I throw in for each heroine to separate them from one another. One might be bookish, the other somewhat of a tom-boy. I’ve had romance heroines who can match the hero word for word and yet, melt beneath his touch. And let’s not forget the heroines who think they’re defeated only to find that inner strength necessary to succeed in life. 

Many personalities exist and if you use the right combination, you’ll create a heroine which will have readers excited to follow her story. And when you think about it, as much as we write the stories for ourselves, we have to write them for our readers. 

Happy writing!

  

About the Author: Rachel Carrington is a multi-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance and currently writes for Ellora's Cave and Red Sage Publishing. She has an anthology release from Pocket Books coming in March 2007. Additionally, she is the editor-in-chief and co-owner of Vintage Romance Publishing and has written non-fiction articles for Absolute Write, Writers Weekly, Funds for Writers, the now-defunct Lady Jaided Magazine, and Writing for Dollars. Readers may visit her on the web at www.dawnrachel.com.

 

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