Heroine Analysis: Part 4

For my last look at heroine analysis (for the moment, anyway), I took a look at the novel I am currently revising.


I finished a first draft and my first revision that made me rewrite the whole ending. The heroine is a slave in a fantasy world trying to escape and find freedom.

So, can I not hate her if she were another author’s heroine?

  • Is she Passive? – She’s a slave, so there are areas that she is a bit passive, especially in response to the hero . . . And yet, she has struggled to find a way out of slavery and she is more than willing to stand up to powerful men. I might need to take another look at her interactions with the hero and make sure they aren’t passive. Make sure the reader understands her thoughts and manipulations to gain her freedom.
  • Do I tell one thing and show another? – I don’t think so. Again, I don’t believe I actively tell you that she’s determined. I try to let you feel how she longs for a family and a place to belong, how it’s shaped her, and how she’s willing to give a lot and risk a lot to get it.
  • Does she do stupid things? – No. At one point in the story, she does flee the safety of the palace, but that’s because she has inside information on bad stuff going down. Not foolish, and I laid the groundwork in advance as to where she’d go and why. I had some stupid in the story, and I cut it during the first rewrite. There may be more, but nothing I can quickly identify. Perhaps on revision two. . .

So, I might need to work with her to make sure she doesn’t come across as passive without making her overstep too many bounds as a slave. At least, I should take another look at it and try to be objective on whether I’d be annoyed with her or not.

Now, does she exhibit the traits I’m looking for to like her?

  • Is she actively involved in solving her problem? – Yes. From the beginning, she is fighting to escape and goes to great lengths to do it.
  • Can you identify with her? – I feel like this is harder as she’s a slave in a fantasy world. But perhaps the reader can identify with her feeling alone, unloved, and wanting a home and a family of her own.
  • No Damsels – I need to be very careful with that on this story. The rewrite I’m working on has been addressing a little of this, but the very dominant alpha hero can make it difficult. I need to balance her doing things to save herself with his need to protect. I might need to foil him more, throw much harder obstacles in his path. This will have to come through more on my second or third rewrite.


I think the heroine here has potential, and I’ll need to really focus on making her active, not letting the hero do too much rescuing, and showing her strength and determination. Thoughts to keep in mind as I begin the next round of revisions.

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6 thoughts on “Heroine Analysis: Part 4

  1. I know you want your heroine to be strong and active. But she’s a slave so if she’s so awesome why hasn’t she escaped already. This is something that I feel comes up in fantasy especially. The greatest example is superman. Who is an asshole because he’s too busy saving Lois or Lana to actually be useful. It just makes me go let Lois die! Save literally millions of others you horrible murderer.
    If your heroine doesn’t have to be a slave why is she? If she can save herself why not others? If being a slave bothers her so little she didn’t escape before then is it bad enough to try now? (You may have answers but I’m really liking these posts so they are making me think.)
    I weirdly keep taking agency away from my characters. Which I kind of get on a personal level. Like Eva’s I pull away from her over and over during the book and she has to fight for every single bit she has. Jenna I steal at the start of the book but don’t even let her figure it out until much later. Though I’m also stealing the hero from her on the next rewrite so she can’t even get help to get herself out. She is a heroine who fights her nature completely.
    I’ve been doing an edit light rewrite on a novella and realize I had the main character wrong. I think of it as Faye’s story but it is really Daisy’s because she’s so full of taking action and it feels so natural for her because she’s a teen. But I kind of like internal struggles a lot. Which I get because I’m me. But I do like them in what I read too. When the big hurdle is inside, to me that feels so true to life.

    This series of posts has been amazing and thought provoking and thought out. Thank you!!

    (I’m so looking forward to the heroes too!!)

    1. A bit of explanation of the story may be in order. The heroine, Auburn, is a slave but perhaps not what most think of when they think of slaves.

      She was purchased as a child to be a potential future wife for the sultan. She has not yet been chosen as a wife but is still protected as the sultan’s property. The book starts when the sultan gifts her to the prince visiting them from a foreign country. The prince’s country has outlawed slavery and is tempted to return the gift. She has to convince him not to, and then make herself valuable enough to him and his retinue that he’ll take her back to his home country and set her free despite the political costs to him.

      I think I need to make sure that a reader sees all that she’s done to prepare herself for the chance at freedom. That she will fight for it now that there’s a chance she can have it.

      I have to make sure she has agency in this escape bid, but at the same time, she is clearly dependent on the hero helping.


      I am really glad these posts are useful!  I know they help me to clearly think through likes and dislikes. It’s sometimes hard to apply to my own work, but I think it’s a good thing to try to do. Especially early in the rewriting process.

  2. Reminds me of the slave concept, called the Aux, that I use in my own novels. When they’re allowed to regain their humanity and agency by being given a second chance, they prove to be the fiercest warriors. This is because they now know exactly where the rock lands when its dropped into the abyss. When one of them dies fighting the enemies of freedom, his battle cry was “Death redeems us all” because it is truly the great equalizer of men. They all are born and live until they die, separated only by the pages in the middle. The question, then, becomes, what is in the middle. In this case, what made her rebel and fight the system when so many others in her society, her ‘norm’ did not? I ask, because it is a question whose answer would change the very nature of your heroines character.

    Another thought that comes to mine is the old line “God created man, Sam Colt made them equal”… so what makes her ‘equal” and willing to stand up to ‘the man’?

    PS: If this sounds rambling… the doctor ordered me to give up coffee for two days so they could do blood work and the withdrawal just hit! 😛

    Oh, and it was a fun and well written article!!

    1. For her, it was her visions she’s had since she was a child that allow her to buck the norm. That, and she stands apart physically as well. She was not native to the area, and her red hair and blue eyes make her strange and different. The story has magic in it, and very rare sorcerers are occasionally gifted with visions. These visions have steered her clear of danger in the past and shown her what could be if she’s brave enough and strong enough to fight for it. It’s the visions that differentiate her, and she has long awaited the man wearing the dragon crest.

      Good thoughts! You’re right. It is duex ex machina to suddenly break free of slavery to make the story. I had to be careful to establish the why of it, but at the same time, careful not to give the reader an info dump of it. I hope I succeeded.

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