After taking a look at heroines I didn’t like, the next step is to take a look at those I did like. When I first started this post, I thought it would basically be the exact opposite of what I didn’t like. It turned out a little more complex than that.
I have to have the basics from my last post: characters doing something, not being stupid, and the author not telling me one thing and showing me another. But as I think through what I like about the characters, there’s more to it.
Finders Keepers – I loved Trilby Elliott. She was getting by with shoestrings and duct tape to keep her ship intact. She’s a hacker extraordinaire. She cared about her friends, once had a little childhood crush, and was still stinging after being jilted by her ex. She had compassion and skepticism, and used both to make decisions.
Stephanie Plum Series – I liked Stephanie at the beginning of the series. It felt fresher and funnier to me than later. I liked her tenacity, practicality and New Jersey “manners”.
Earl Next Door – I liked the heroine’s tenacity. I liked her courage to go out on her own. I liked that she still loved and missed her father. She was not the refined sophisticate you find in many romance novels, but I liked her spunk, wit and determination. I like the way she stands up to an earl and marchioness.
Mad about the Marquess – I liked the heroine’s practicality. I liked her witty dialogue and unconventional approach. I liked her compassion for the less fortunate as demonstrated through her giving all of her ill-gotten gains to the poor.
Militess and the Mage – I liked how strong the heroine was. How unrepentant about her lovers and her scars. She was the protector, and she never expected anyone else to come to her rescue.
So, where does this lead me? It tells me it takes more than just not making me hate a character to make me like them. I need the characters to not do stupid things, but I also need more to go from feeling meh about a character to liking them.
Active Characters – I like characters that are actively out there doing something.
- The heroine in Finders Keepers trying to fix her ship so she can take another run so she can better fix her ship.
- Stephanie Plum trying to pick her life up after being laid off.
- The heroine in an Earl Next Door trying to start a new life.
- The heroine in Mad about the Marquess trying to help the poor. The Militess trying to prevent war.
You can identify with them in some way – I may not be a hacker or freighter pilot, but I understand some of what the heroines are going through.
- I get the heroine in Finders Keepers being dumped and struggling to get by.
- I sympathize with Stephanie Plum trying to pick her life up after being laid off.
- I get the family troubles of the heroine in an Earl Next Door.
- I understand the overwhelming helplessness in the face of human need that drives the heroine in Mad about the Marquess.
- I can see the pain of the Militess feeling unattractive and being the bastard daughter of the king.
No Damsels – This ties back into active characters, but as the heroines are doing their thing, they don’t need the hero. Yes, he helps them. Possibly more than they could’ve done on their own. But they’re not Princess Peach waiting around for Mario to rescue them. They’re bringing the fight to Bowser. And were doing so long before they met the hero, and will keep doing so long after they’ve met him. They’re sassy, practical, tenacious, and never doormats.