What makes a heroine?
Honestly? A sense of humor.
The leading lady in any book that I read (or any show that I watch, for that matter) has to have a sense of humor. It doesn’t matter how rough, tough and tumble she is, if she can’t laugh at herself then she’s not worth my time.
True strength is in the ability to recognize and understand our own weaknesses. People who can do that tend to be able to laugh at themselves.
I know there are broody-life-sucks-I’m-dark-and-dangerous female characters out there, but they really don’t interest me. I’ve got enough stuff in my own life to brood over, I don’t need a character to show me how to do it right. What I need is a character who can remind me that even when life sucks there’s something to smile about.
So that’s my fundamental rule while hunting bookshelves. (And if Trenna is any indication, it’s my rule for writing as well.)
Strength comes in various forms, but I’ll admit that I do enjoy watching a woman punch a man in the throat every now and then. (In fiction, of course.) But as I was writing Persona over the summer I came to one particular scene that lingers in my mind. Megan, the main character, is not a fighter. But her moment of strength is when she makes the decision to help an escaped POW even though she knows it’ll put her in danger.
I can punch a guy. I’m trained to do it.
But if I were sitting in Nazi Germany with an unconscious POW in my bathtub and the Gestapo knocking on my door, would I have the strength to hide that man?
I hope so. I certainly admire that kind of bravery. And that’s the kind of bravery I’m looking for out of a heroine. She has to be able to make the right decision even when it could cost her dearly.
And hey, if she can punch a few people while she’s at it and cackle like a madwoman, all the better.
Round Robin Continues with Beverly Bateman! So head on over to her blog and see what she looks for in a heroine.
And just in case you wanted it, here’s the full list of authors writing for this Round Robin event:
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/
Lynn Crain at http://www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com
Kay Sisk at http://www.kaysisk.com/
Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com
Connie Vines at http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Geeta Kakade at http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
A.J. Maguire at https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Beverley Bateman at http://beverleybateman.blogspot.com/
Diane Bator at http://dbator.blogspot.ca
Fiona McGier at http://www.fionamcgier.com
Rhobin Courtright at http://rhobinleecourtright.com
13 thoughts on “What Makes a Heroine? – Round Robin”
Another very insightful article! Enjoyed your viewpoint and found so much truth in it.
Thank you! I enjoy these round-robin discussions quite a bit.
You’re trained to fight? I’m envious! I have to rely heavily on imagination and scenes from movies when I’m writing fight scenes. Inner strength I can write well, but in actual hand-to-hand combat I’d have no idea what to do. Now when I was a kid, there were lots of girls my age on my block and we frequently got into fistfights and knock-down drag-out fights. We were all “little toughies”. But it’s been many years since I punched someone anywhere. Must lend realism to your scenes.
Well, aside from being in the Army for a while I used to teach martial arts. So yes, I’m trained. And it does make me enjoy the fighting scenes a bit more. Not because I’m looking for realism so much as I’m looking for how the fighter is thinking.
Strength comes in all forms. I agree. Very insightful article.
Thank you! Strength is so misunderstood sometimes.
I’m envious that you know martial arts. It would make writing some of my fight scenes so much easier. Strength and a sense of humor, two definite characteristics of a great heroine. That’s for a great post.
A friend got me into the martial arts back in High School. It’s one of those things that sort of sticks with you.
I do like heroines with a sense of humor. Not all of mine have it, but it really depends on the story. The one I’m working on now is morphing a bit. The heroine is not changing so much, but the story is.
I’m not really into the dark and brooding heroines either. I have had enough angst in my life without reading about someone else’s, although I think I may have one or two. LOL
Oh, gracious, I know! I’ve got my own shoddy past to look at, I don’t need to listen to 100 pages of a girl bemoaning her past, I need to see her deal with it and (gasp) become stronger because she is willing to grow beyond all the mess.
Bravo..an author who values reality in her writing. As much as I’m for equality, there are just some things women can’t do. When I worked as a Correctional Officer, I wanted a big strong man to be my back up, not another woman…that may be disloyal, but realistically speaking, what would be the odds that a 5 foot 120 pound back up could contain a 250 pound man? I love humor, and think every heroine needs a sense of it. Like you, there are some heroines that have made me “hang up” the book and stop reading because they were just too macho for me. 🙂
Yes, 250lbs will always outweigh 120lbs. But one of the things I learned in the sparring ring is that even a 250lb man can go down. (It’s amazing the things you can do with just a couple of fingers, and I’m not even kidding. You wrench a finger at the right angle and it’ll make a neat little domino effect with the rest of the arm.)
Now then, two or three 250lbs men against one 120lbs woman and there’s some serious issues happening. The girl better be the fastest, most observant fighter in the room.
Hi! I nominated you for a “Liebster Award” (which can help bloggers get more readers)…the instructions on how to follow through with it are on my latest blog: http://beneficiation.wordpress.com/