June 20, 2011 | By: Tracy

What if I Don't Like Her?

I'm going to be borrowing a couple of my favorite posts (they belong to me, no plagorism, I swear) from another blog, because I'm curious to see how my peeps think. So, if some of these happen to look familiar, you'll know why.

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We spend a lot of time in our novels -- love stories most especially -- focusing on the hero. Is he cute enough? Strong enough? Sensitive enough? Funny enough? Charming enough? Etc., etc., etc.

It makes sense, because most of us females (and maybe the occasional secure male who's interested in exploring his feminine side) want to put ourselves in the shoes of the lead female character and live vicariously through her.

But what about the heroine herself? Don't we have to like her too?

Unfortunately, there have been quite a few books that I started and eventually stopped reading because the heroine got on my Last. Damn. Nerve.

The hardest part of writing a story geared toward a female audience, can be writing a female character that the majority of readers want to spend more time with. For me, I have to either want to be her -- or at least be her friend -- for me to stick with the gal through thick & thin.


She has to be humble, without being weak.


Elizabeth Bennett -- Pride & Prejudice


 She has to be able to take care of herself, and still retain her femininity.


Guinevere -- King Arthur


And she has to be just as willing to rescue the hero as she is to let him rescue her.
Elizabeth Swann -- Pirates of the Caribbean
(Apparently, I have a bit of Keira Knightly fetish -- who knew?)

Bottom line -- It's not an easy job being the heroine. Not only does she have to make the hero fall in love with her . . . she has to make us (the reader) fall in love with her too.

What about you? Anything that a heroine has to do/be in order to keep you reading?  Anything that completely turns you off and causes you to close the book, never to return?

12 witty remarks:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love this post. You've nailed it, Tracy, as to what I'm looking for in a character. I also love witt.

Those traits make up my fav female character of all time--Rose Hathaway. :D

salarsenッ said...

I really liked your second point about taking care of herself yet retaining her femininity. That is a vital element in creating a true heroine. She's strong and bold, yet true to her nature - being a girl. There's nothing wrong with that.

Charissa Weaks said...

I agree completely. I like a strong heroine, but I also like to see her vulnerability too. She is human...and a girl. Retaining her femininity is big for me. :)

Creepy Query Girl said...

I have very little tolerance for whiny characters. OR pessemistic ones unless they have a sharp sarcastic sense of humor. Lame jokes throw me off too. lol.

Hart Johnson said...

This is actually probably the strongest reason I nearly never read romance. A woman who needs a MAN in order to be complete never is likeable to me and that is the romance formula. I like some chicklit with romance as a focus--the primary difference being is the woman is on a self-discovery journey and when she comes to terms with HERSELF then she can be open to love...

I think, though, the critical thing I need in female leads is humor. Humorless women wear on me (men, too, for that matter)--it can be ANY form--funny funny, sarcastic, dry humor, glum humor, anything... but for Pete's sake, give me something to laugh at.

alexia said...

I can't stand female characters who "need" men or continue to make stupid mistake after stupid mistake in their relationships. I'll quit reading if she's not a strong person.

Kari Marie said...

You've nailed it on the head for me too. I love a witty woman as well - maybe a little sarcasm to boot.

Meredith said...

I don't always need to like a female protagonist to keep reading the book. But I can't stand weak, whiny girls. It's better if they're mean or annoying or push people away--even if I don't like them, I have to respect them.

Liz Fichera said...

I think the flaws have to be believable too. Nothing irritates me more than the gorgeous heroine who has no clue that she's gorgeous. Please. Stop. It.

Colene Murphy said...

SO agree! Flaws and imperfections are one thing, but you can't let them get so frikking annoying or unlikable that no one wants to stick with them! Spot on post. And, Keira Knightly is so dang pretty!

Chris Phillips said...

I like my heroin tall, dark, and in a needl... oh! heroine?! In that case she needs to be hawt.

Carol Riggs said...

I like Keira too! As far as heroines, it really bugs me to have a weepy female. Sure, crying is okay, but not a female who weeps and blubbers over the smallest stupid thing. Save the drama. ;o)

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