Monday, October 27, 2008

A Lady of Worth

I've been ruminating lately on the topic of heroines. Lately, I've been reading a lot of books where the heroine is definitely blech, and most are meh.

Frankly, writing women is not my forte. Strangely, I seem to write strongly from the male POV. Whenever a new story crops up in my mind it is always from the hero's pov. Strange, then, that I consider myself to be feminine and womanly. By that I mean I like flowers and glam and glitz, high heels and pretty lingerie. I've been known to squeal when excited and giggle when embarrassed. I even cry during anything with even the barest hint of sadness. In essence, I guess I'm a girly girl. Despite all this, I find it very hard to connect with heroines.

Writing and reading the perfect woman in a romance is a daunting prospect. Kind of like the women of old who were considered 'accomplished'. So much went into that word. And so much goes into the character of a 'heroine of worth'. What is it that makes us so hard on these fictional characters? Is it because we see them as 'rivals', or because they make us feel inferior about ourselves? Why are we so hard on these heroines, when in reality we allow their heroes miles of trespasses?

Frankly, I like a heroine who is soft, womanly, with a strong inner core, a backbone when needed coupled with vulnerability. In essence, I want my heroine to be more like me. Because, after all, I'm picturing the hero with me. Stands to reason his lady be like me!

I dislike perfect characters. Both female and male. I can't relate. I want to relate. I mean, I *really* want to relate to these women. But lately, I find it rather difficult. They are either silly or so sexually self confident that I find them off putting. I mean, really, someone who has never looked in the mirror and wanted to change something about themselves? Maybe there are some really super self-confident women out there that LOVE every single fibre of their being, maybe there are women who bring a different guy home every night and get down and dirty without wondering if he finds her hot, or if her rear is too big, or god above, can he see her cellulite. Maybe she's out there, but frankly, she, isn't me. I don't mean to say that I want to read a romance in which the heroine is forever angsting over her looks and has a major confidence problem. I just want a bit, just to reassure me she's human, and so that we connect--woman to woman. I don't like these gorgeous sexually agressive women. They make me feel a trifle inferior. And I don't like feeling inadequate. Which brings me to the next sort of heroine. The scary ones.

I confess that these 'kick ass' heroines don't do it for me. I don't run around kicking ass and carrying glocks. That is SO not me. Even in my wildest fantasies, I do not see myself running into the fray and getting down and dirty with anything that could be remotely termed 'hand to hand'. Nor do I see myself sitting on the sidelines ringing my hands together whimpering with fear. I'm more likely to see to the medical bag, get my stuff lined up, anticipate the injuries, while trying to stem some anxious nerves. See, capability mixed with vulnerability. That works for me. That's believable. I mean, I'm all about suspending reality when I read. I devour really strong, capable heroes. For me, heroes can be a rakish libertine, a fallen angel, a demon, a 280pound vampire, but damn it, his heroine had better be someone I can identify with and like. In essence, that heroine had better share a few of my traits, quirks and desires.

But that's just me. Maybe not all readers feel the need to be the heroine.

So what about you? What's your 'lady of worth'?


Kristina Cook said...

Oh, gosh....heroines. Tricky. I will say that when I first envision a story, I usually envision it from the heroine's POV (though my first Edwardian single-title, coming out Oct. 2009) is an exception. I first envisioned that hero.

But my favorite kind? I guess it's less about 'traits' and more about the heroine being someone I'd like to be friends with, if that makes sense. I have some friends who are shy, some who are sassy, some insecure, some outgoing. I can't quite put my finger on what it is about them that makes them my friends, other than some enigmatic 'likeability' factor.

Same with heroines, I guess. I think what makes them likeable to me is if I understand where they're coming from. Their traits have to be organic to their characters. If they start doing things that don't seem to have any motivation, or that isn't true to their character, then I get frustrated with them.

As to the heroines that I've created, I think my favorite was Jane Rosemoor from Unveiled (though she is also a secondary character in Unlaced and Undressed). She just seemed so ‘normal’ to me, and so real. There wasn't really anything special about her--not shy, not insecure, not particularly spunky, and definitely not kick-ass. But a good friend, a good sister, caring, with a nice sense of humor. She seemed like someone I'd like to hang out with, to have as a friend.

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Well put!!!
I should probably clarify that I have read some books this year where I have liked the heroine! I don't want people thinking I trash every book! lol!

The best thing about romance is the diversity, both in plot and characters. There truly is something for everyone. So, it really doesn't matter about my dislikes, because someone will come along and totally love what I don't and vice versa. The romance genre is so huge and emcompassing~kind of like the women they're created for.
I like choice. Even if it's not my choice, I like that someone else can more than likely find what they're looking for!