What Makes a Great Heroine?

Patricia Bradley Inspirational Fiction, Readers, Writing 19 Comments

heroine

Sunday evening, November 17, 2013

We have a winner:

 Staci Stallings

 

Sister posts today! Here and at MBT Ponderers!

These are the responses I received when I asked readers on FaceBook the question: what makes a great heroine?

If she is kind but has guts and is not a quitter.

I like a confident, and “sure of herself” kind of heroine.

kind, approachable… confidence (or a growing confidence)

I don’t like lots of angst. A little is okay but…

I like protectiveness

Wise, self-confident

Someone who’s not perfect. I always get irritated when the heroine is beautiful, sassy, intelligent, fashionable, overly gracious, etc. She needs to be real.

Melodramatic displays of emotion are annoying if not in the right context. I also do not like it when the heroine is perfect yet oh-so-unaware of her magnificent presence. I like a dash of larger than life mixed with characteristics real enough that I can relate to her.

I like reading a book where the heroine is funny, quirky, smart, interesting yet sympathetic…. where i might actually think, “if she were real, I’d like hanging out with her”….where I care what is on the next page.

Love a strong heroine who gets into trouble but has the guts to try to get herself out!

She needs to sacrifice something, be all about helping someone else or doing the right thing. Although, let’s face it Scarlett O’Hara was fairly self-centered yet most of us liked GONE WITH THE WIND. Maybe it was because she wanted to keep Tara. I don’t like weak and whiny females. She needs to be strong–not in all things, but in most.

Plus a little mystery.

I like a heroine that seems like she’s real…warts and all…that her readers can relate to.

I also hate it when the heroine is a *totally* helpless damsel.

A realistic character – not too super-woman and not too wimpy.

One thing that can really make me pull for a character is hearing the story from their point of view. That gets you into her mind quickly and makes it easier for me to sympathize. Even if they are a lying dog.

Maturity (not necessarily age), a little rough edge (doesn’t take garbage from others), has an interesting way of viewing her world & isn’t apologetic about it.

What do you think? Agree? do you have any other to add? Leave a comment either here or at the MBT Ponderer’s Blog by Sunday night and be entered in a drawing for an Amazon $10 gift card.

 

Shadows of the Past Available for preorder at CBDAmazon, and B&N.

Shadows of the Past

 

 

 

Comments 19

  1. H. L. (Harry) Wegley

    Thanks for posting this, Pat. The following is coming from a guy’s perspective, a minority member of the RS readership, so keep that in mind. As you said, many of us like our heroines beautiful, sassy, and intelligent (including clever and resourceful). I would add three things. They never back down when something, or someone, important to them is threatened, no matter the personal cost. Second, they can take care of themselves in a physical struggle, not necessarily because they know martial arts, but because they are smart and refuse to give up or give in. And third, they have a few things that either touch or break their hearts, and they will quickly shed tears, without embarrassment or shame, when those things happen. They don’t turn into sniveling wimps, but they do cry. These things give the hero his big chance. 🙂

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      Patricia Bradley

      I think perseverance is something a heroine definitely needs. In my current wip, one of the subplot characters doesn’t have it and it costs her. At least that’s the way I’m leaning now. 🙂 Glad you stopped by my blog, Mary Ann.

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      Patricia Bradley

      Oh, I so agree. At first I didn’t like Tess Gerritsen’s Jane Rizzoli because she had a chip on her shoulder, but as I got to know her, I understood. If I were Jane, I’d probably whine too. lol

  2. Delores Topliff

    Great post, this is a keeper. You say some important and tremendous things. I vastly prefer gutsy, even sometimes atrocious Scarlett, to Melanie. I think the analogy works to compare characters w/ foods. Too bland, too tasteless and w/o identifiable flavors, we may spit it out as fast as infants spit out pablum. Give me something flavorful–and memorable. If it’s delicious enough, I’ll look for that dish, restaurant, (author), again! In fact, the recipe, if discoverable, may become an often-requested family favorite!

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  3. Reba J. Hoffman

    Ahhh… the heroine. Always a strong heroine. That’s what does it for me. She can get into trouble and show weakness, but in the end, she needs to get herself out of the situation. I’m not a damsel in distress, wait for the prince type of gal and I don’t want my heroines to be that way either.

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  4. Melanie Dickerson

    Pat, this list is both interesting and terrifying. It’s so hard to create characters that everybody is going to love! Scarlet is the perfect example. Some people love her, some hate her, but I think there are many reasons most readers loved her. First of all, we sympathized with her. Her heart gets crushed at the very beginning when she finds out Ashley is marrying someone else. Second, she doesn’t whine about it, she decides to be proactive and do something! Third, she has a goal. All through the books, she always has a goal, something she’s trying desperately to attain. And Fourth, she always has moments of feeling intense remorse for the bad things she’s done. Remember when she gets drunk after Frank’s funeral? She at least has the decency to know she was wrong to marry Frank and then get him killed. 🙂 [You can tell I’ve thought about this before.]

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      Patricia Bradley

      I love your insight, Melanie. Proactive. I think that’s one thing all heroines need to be, and you nailed it as to why readers love Scarlett. Margaret Mitchell was an amazing writer. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. H. L. (Harry) Wegley

    This post is a keeper for my files, Pat. One other thing I try to do with my heroine is to give her something like kryptonite — a weakness, perhaps a phobia — something that makes her completely vulnerable when faced with her fear. We can’t have her being superman … or maybe we can. 🙂 Initially the hero saves her in her weakness, but by the end of the story she has learned to conquer her fear and, after the epiphany, she proves it in the final battle.

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  6. Stephanie L. Robertson

    I prefer Victoria Holt’s description of her heroines. They aren’t necessarily beautiful, but they are interesting-looking or have interesting features. After all, Margaret Mitchell’s book says that Scarlet O’ Hara was not beautiful.

    I don’t want GQ models for the heroes, either. Just a strong, manly type will do.

    Thanks for letting me try out for the prize! -Stephanie @ http://www.thewritesteph.com.

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      Patricia Bradley

      I think having one really good feature helps a reader identify with the heroine…like unusual eyes or dimples, maybe. Working on my newest heroine who is in the first 2 books but not a major role. Thanks for stopping by Stephanie and you are entered in the drawing!

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