Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wicked Wednesday - the fine line of writing a strong heroine

One of the aspects of paranormal romance novels that I love is the strong female protagonists that kick butt. I like women who know their own minds and can take care of themselves. She doesn't necessarily have to be a supernatural creature or have powers. It's so much fun when a human gets thrown into a paranormal situation.

Yet one of the biggest problems to writing a good, strong heroine is sometimes authors fall on the other side of the line and make her an unlikable bitch. You need your readers to adore your protagonist, to root for her. I've set aside books because I didn't like the heroine. She had too much attitude, lack of heart, or was too detached.

Here are five tips to writing a kick butt woman that readers will love:

1. She may have a strong facade, but she needs to be vulnerable at times. Maybe her family makes her a softie or she's insecure about love. Give her vulnerabilities your readers can relate to.
2. She may be aggressive and ruthless, but don't let her be mean. Let her heart show through.
3. She might know who she is and what she wants, but there's always room to grow. For a story to be successful, the protagonist needs to have some personal growth. Maybe she was wrong about something she was so certain about, or what she wanted was suddenly taken out of the picture and she has to find her way again.
4. She should challenge the hero and possibly save him in the end, but not emasculate him. She should help make him a better person just as he should help her do the same. This will create a stronger bond and make for a better romance.
5. Being strong doesn't necessarily mean being physically strong. Her strength could come from her compassion and her drive never to give up. Let her strength shine through with how she deals with conflict.

What tips do you have for writing strong female characters?


  1. So much great advice! I agree with you completely, especially when it comes to #5. Too many people seem to forget that you can lack physical strength and still be a strong individual, or even that it's possible for a physically strong character to also possess other types of strengths!

  2. This is amazing advice, Christine! The romantic interest is always difficult to write and I think about a half of the story is decided by this romance, the interactions between the two main characters.

    I liked Mae in the Marquis - strong and understanding without trying to overcome someone much more powerful than her. She knows her place and knows she must trust Marc.

    And I also liked the contrast between Mae and Stephanie.

    These are great examples to support your advice.

  3. That vulnerability element is essential, I think.

  4. Great advice, especially number one. Thanks!

  5. Great advice! I agree about having a soft spot. I'm big on strong female leads too.

  6. Yes! To everything.

    In Solomon's Compass, my heroine is a Coast Guard commander. She definitely knows where she's going and what she wants. And she's 5'1". Almost. With shoes. And wears Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs tees.

  7. Fantastic advice! There definitely is a fine line between a strong heroine and a bitchy one sometimes.

  8. Spot on, Christine! I've come across strong female leads that I just couldn't stand... but when you use those key points, a strong character can be created that will be lovable and believable!

  9. i need to apply this advice! thanks, christine!

  10. Oh yeah, Athee challenged Byron. That's an understatement!
    Excellent tips, Christine.

  11. There must be vulnerability. Have you read Save the Cat? Each main character should have a save the cat moment near the beginning.

    Your tips are fab. :)

  12. Thank you, everyone! I really need to read Save the Cat. I have it on the reserve list at the library.

  13. Excellent post, and so so true...:)

  14. those are great tips. I think sometimes people equate crying and showing emotion with weakness, but it's not at all. Feeling something makes you strong, not ignoring those emotions.

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  16. Good advice! Thanks for sharing.


  17. Yes! Exactly this, times a thousand. Love it!


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