Friday, April 29, 2011

What If I Don't Like Her?

We spend a lot of time, in love stories, focusing on the hero. Is he cute enough? Strong enough? Sensitive enough? Funny enough? Charming enough? Etc., etc., etc.

It makes sense, because most of us -- whether single or married, content or yearning for something more -- want to put ourselves in the shoes of the lead female character, and live vicariously through her.

But what about the heroine herself? Don't we have to like her too?

Unfortunately, there have been quite a few books that I started . . . and eventually stopped reading because the heroine got on my Last. Damn. Nerve.

The hardest part of writing a story geared toward a female audience, can be writing a female character that the majority of readers WANT to spend more time with. For me, I have to either want to be her -- or at least be her friend -- for me to stick with the gal through thick & thin.

She has to be humble, without being weak.

Elizabeth Bennett -- Pride & Prejudice

 She has to be able to take care of herself, and still retain her femininity.

Guinevere -- King Arthur

And she has to be just as willing to rescue the hero as she is to let him rescue her.
Elizabeth Swann -- Pirates of the Caribbean
(Apparently, I have a bit of Keira Knightly fetish)

Bottom line -- It's not an easy job being the heroine. Not only does she have to make the hero fall in love with her . . . she has to make us (the reader) love her too.

What about you? Anything that a heroine has to do/be in order to keep you reading?  Anything that completely turns you off and causes you to close the book, never to return?


Linda Kage said...

I've read some TSTL heroines that made me gnash my teeth and wonder why are you doing that? Sadly, I've written some too--and most of those stories are buried far far under my bed never to see the light of day. But it can certainly be hard to make a likable heroine when you want the plot to go a certain way. Makes me wonder why the plot and character development can't just get along sometimes! :-)

Unknown said...

Great post, Tracy. You've nailed what I like in a strong heroine.

I was judging an entry in a contest in which the heroine came off as annoying. She wasn't strong, though I'm sure the writer meant for her to be. She was wishy-washy if anything. "I hate the hero but man he's hot, but I hate him and I want him in jail, but man he is hot." (And this was in the first chapter) Grrr. Fortunately the hero was great. Strong characterization for sure. Unfortunately the reader wouldn't have gotten that far.

Stephanie said...

Great post!!! just like in real life, I can't stand stupid people. LOL!

Marie Rose Dufour said...

It is so important to have strong heroines these days. Gone are the days of the Harlequin heroine where the hero saves her and makes everything all right. Women want to read about someone like themselves or someone who they would like to be. An alpha wouldn't want a wishy-washy wimp. Great post!

McKenzie McCann said...

You pretty much said it perfectly. If the hero will love her, so will the readers.

Laura said...

Fab post! I too have stopped reading on the rare occasion that I HaTe THE BLOOMIn' HEROINE!

There's an award waiting for this delicious blog over at


Christine Murray said...

They have to be strong. Even if the heroine doesn't start off as strong at the start of the book, I like to see her grow stronger over the course of the book.

Post a Comment