After going through and thinking about what I like and dislike about heroines, I decided to take a look at the ones I’m writing. Trying to turn thoughts into action. But more than that, trying to be honest with myself.
If I’m going to put other authors’ work under my microscope, I should do the same to my own.
I don’t know why it’s so much easier to write passive heroines. I have done it numerous times in the past, and even as I wrote Knight of Valor, I had to constantly keep in my mind that the hero couldn’t just make everything better all by himself (like he did in the first draft).
Perhaps this is my upbringing in our current culture. Falling back on so much of what I’ve seen all my life. So I’ll have to fight doubly hard to exercise the damsels. But it’s a fight worth having.
Knight of Valor
This book is complete and I’ve been working on trying to publish it. The heroine in it is a sorceress trying to stop a necromancer from sacrificing her soul.
- Is she passive? – She escapes from her master and actively works to get to safety. Even when her magic is weak at the beginning of the story, she always joins the fights to help the hero. She never mucks up the fights, either.
- Do I tell one thing and show another? – This is harder for an author to fairly judge in their own work. I try very hard not to tell the reader anything. I try to focus on them liking the heroine through her actions – being a bit sassy with the hero when he deserves it, rescuing a dog, playing with children. I don’t see anywhere that I tell you she’s kind or strong willed.
- Does she do stupid things? – I worked very hard on this and forced myself not to give in to the temptation to “make” things happen by the heroine foolishly leaving the hero no matter how insufferable he could be at times. The only action I could see actually being a bit foolish was when she frees some souls trapped by a powerful spell. It’s a risk, but a calculated one.
So, I think the heroine passes the: I won’t hate her if she’s someone else’s heroine test.
Now, would I like her?
- Is she actively involved in solving her problem? – She fights for her soul and her freedom, up to and including making the deal to get a Knight to help her travel to safety. In the climactic showdown at the end of the story, it’s her actions that save both her and the hero.
- Can you identify with her? – This is harder, I think. She’s a sorceress in a fantasy world. But perhaps you can identify with her not being strong enough and needing a bit of help but still being proud. Perhaps you can identify with her helping a stray dog. Or falling in love with someone she thinks she can never have. Or maybe that she can’t ride a horse well and hates camping. Those last bits might be a little reflection of the author . . .
- No Damsels – I don’t think she ever comes across as a damsel in the story. Does she need the hero’s help? Yes. But is she also working hard and fighting alongside of him? Yes. And, she even comes to his aide a time or three
So maybe I could actually like her even if she was someone else’s character.
At least, I’ve tried to craft that.