As I mentioned in my blog about post-finish blues, I always feel a sense of loss when I let one set of characters go and begin the “dating” process with a new set. The process is somewhat akin to speed dating, because I know pretty quickly if a character isn’t right for a story. The harder part is finding the one that is right, that will become a good partner in telling my story.
Because I totally make it up as I go along (sometimes called “seat of the pants” or “into the mist” plotting), my heroine is very important to my story telling. If she’s a prima donna, or relatively inert, then my story won’t ever get into motion. This is very bad for an author.
Sometimes I’ve had to (literally) light a bomb under them, but this wears us both out. I infinitely prefer the cooperative heroine—though I can totally see why they drag their feet at being in one of my stories, since the bullets (or ray blasts) tend to start flying early in the narrative and don’t stop until the bad guy is down. My books are not for the faint-of-heart heroine.
All this got me to mulling heroines in general, rather in my particular (I’m totally NOT stalling…okay, maybe I’m stalling a little. This speed dating is exhausting!).
What are the qualities I love in a heroine? What keeps me taking the trip with them, even when they aren’t perfect?
Probably my favorite quality in a heroine (and in my friends!) is a sense of humor. I love it when a heroine strides onto the book stage (or my mental stage) and cracks a joke. Or makes a wry, but witty comment. I tend to joke during times of stress and difficulty and I like characters who can see the funny side of a tush kicking. I can take angst in small doses, but like it leavened with humor.
I love heroines who are brave, but not the ones who aren’t smart enough to be scared. I like the ones who are frightened and go forward anyway. It takes a lot of courage to press forward against the odds. Heroines like this inspire me, and they make me want to revisit their stories again and again (yes, I’m a re-reader! So much so I blogged about it twice!)
I love heroines who know they aren’t perfect, that they may have to change themselves to get to that happy ending. They remind me that many of my problems can be solved if I change myself, instead of hoping that other people will change.
I like smart heroines, but “smart” comes in a variety of packages. I don’t require them to never be stupid, because perfect people (if they existed) are annoying. If you never make a mistake, you never learn, even if you’re fictional. My favorite form of “smart” is down-home, common sense. Life smarts. No frills smarts, though I’ve had some fun with geek smarts in my books and I love reading a good, geeky-smart heroine who kicks tush with brain power.
And because I’m romantic (married 38 years!), I love heroines who are open to love, but aren’t so desperate to get it that they’ll do anything to get their guy. I like the ones who have the courage to reach and risk their hearts—but are also willing to walk away from a guy who doesn’t appreciate them properly.
So what about you? Do you look for a particular type of heroine in your reading material? What is about them that entices you to take a book journey with them? How do you know when you’ve found it? Inquiring minds would love to know and…
All comments are entered into my monthly drawing for $10 AnaBanana gift card. Winner is announced in the first blog post of the new month. (Note: It has come to my attention that my comment system was broken. I believe it is fixed again, so hope you’ll feel inspired to leave one before you go! Normally I’d award a winner in this blog post, but because the comments were down, I’m going to extend this and award $20 for April.)
Pauline Baird Jones loves creating heroines and heroes. She loves writing books. She just released #13 and is hoping it will be good luck for her (it’s not like she can skip the number like a hotel!) and her characters. Relatively Risky is gradually going on sale in a lot of places (though not out in print yet). You can find it at: