Friday, October 29, 2010

Romancing the Blog - The Wonderful Heroine

A beautiful, charming, sweet, innocent woman meets dire circumstances outside her power to fix until the handsome hero comes to her rescue and whisks her away to a happily every after...


Heroine's have evolved greatly since the days of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast. Not that I have anything against Belle and her friends. In fact, as a romantic at heart, I LOVED those stories.

But... if ALL stories were like this... it'd get old. Fast.

I think, though, that sometimes there are false or outdated thoughts on what makes a good heroine. Today's heroine can vary much more than in previous days, especially in the Christian romance.

The Beauty

Gone are the days when your heroine must be a size 6 or less and drop-dead gorgeous. Don't get me wrong. Your heroine CAN be size 6 and gorgeous. It just isn't a requirement, and more and more women are appreciating a more relatable heroine.

Kaye Dacus does a great job of making realistic heroine's in her novels. Her most recent novel, Love Remains, features a size fourteen heroine.

Tamara Leigh had a comical twist on the matter in Perfecting Kate.

Jody Hedlund had a self-proclaimed "Ugly Duckling" of the family in The Preacher's Bride.

Now, as with the hero, it probably isn't advisable to have a heroine who never washes her hair, has severe, uncontrolled acne, and has rotten teeth. I guess you could make the case of having a "makeover" and that might be an interesting twist, but unless that is your story...

If you want to use a "realistic" heroine, maybe aim to have at least one unique characteristic that the hero is attracted to her. Maybe she has a crooked nose... but gorgeous hair. Or maybe she thinks her hair is mousy, but the hero is drawn to her shapely... uh... nose? *ahem* You get the drift.

The Belle

Oh, sweet, sweet Belle. She loved her books, and wouldn't hurt a fly. Don't forget about Snow White, all sweet and sing-song, singing to the animals and having everyone love her, except of course the evil witch.

So... of course, our heroines must be sweet, docile women... right?


At least, I hope that's wrong. Most of my heroine's aren't remotely docile... maybe a little sweet at times though.

Feel free to give your heroine some flavor! Make her deep and dynamic. Give her quirks and a personality. Every heroine is different... or at least should be. What makes YOUR heroine stand out from all the other Belle's of the crowd?

There is a misconception, me thinks, that our heroines have to be close to perfect. Their issues have to be "normal" things like pride or forgiving that jerk-of-an-ex-fiancee who dumped her at the alter.

And these aren't bad things. But don't feel like you're limited to that. Some of today's romance novel heroines, even in the CBA, are facing deeper issues. They're facing addictions, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and abusive pasts that make them not so sweet in the present.

They aren't the perfect heroine. They are flawed and in need of Jesus just like the rest of us.

Here are a few examples of some fiesty, non-run-of-the-mill heroines:

Denise Hunter's Surrender Bay. This lady has some serious issues to overcome and on at least one occasion runs to the bar to try and solve them.

Tamara Leigh's Splitting Harriet. The opening scene is her drunk in a bar... It then skips ahead to where she is a pillar of the church's women's group, but is struggling with the need to be "good" enough. She also has an addiction to jelly beans... For Shame!

Francine River's Redeeming Love. WOW, now here is a powerful book with a powerful message. And it's all about a prostitute.

Julie Lessman's A Passion Redeemed. The main character hibitually lies throughout the novel, tries to entice the hero into bed on numerous occassions, and has very little in way of a moral compass. A great example of a novel where the heroine can also be an antagonist or villain in the story. And truth be told... many times we end up being our own antagonist in real life, am I right?

So the next time someone tells you, "Your heroine can't be like that in the CBA market..." well... listen to it but take it with a grain of salt.

The Ball

Okay, I don't have a point for this one. But I couldn't finish a blog post with a section on the beauty and the belle and not have a ball too:-)  Maybe have a heroine who likes football?????


What are characteristics you like in a heroine? Who are some great heroine's you've read recently?


Julia M. Reffner said...

I like reading realistic heroines, not perfect. I don't mind if they have a past as long as there is a redemptive aspect as they overcome it. You had a great list. In addition some recent favorites of mine would be Sarah Sundin's heroines. One was ordinary looking (the hero, too). The other had a troubled past. Both were potrayed realistically and I think Sundin tackles the subject of the "sanctification" of her characters well.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Flavor! Deep! Dynamic! Yes. I love reading about strong woman.

Great post.
~ Wendy

Casey said...

I like strong heroines, but...I don't like macho heroines. I have a hard time reading about heroines that are cops or hold some intense position that can lead to machoness. BUT that being said, I want her to stand on her own to feet. I like wittiness, sharp tongued heroines. And even if she has struggles, there is a redeeming quality about her and the ending is looking to be satisfactory. But really, is there any book out there in the CBA market that doesn't have a happy ending? :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I like strong heroines, who have an opinion and are willing to go after what they want. Of course, in books I read, they usually do that to their own detriment, but then it's nice to see them grow and be vulnerable and realize they can lean on someone--especially God!

My heroine in one of my older WIPs was a little overweight, had frizzy red hair and was a little obsessive compulsive. She also had a child out of wed-lock. But she was one of my favorite characters because she grew spiritually and changed inside and out through the book. And the hero found something to like about her from the very beginning.