Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Character Of A Heroine

We talk about them all the time. We talk about their qualities, we talk about what they say, and of course, we write about their love life. So, exactly what constitutes a heroine and how is she clearly defined in her role? Why is this protagonist so universally loved that people will read an endless number of stories about her and her fellow heroines?

The meaning of the word, heroine, implies all the positive traits of humanity.

heroine – noun - 1 a: a mythological or legendary woman having the qualities of a hero b: a woman admired and emulated for her achievements and qualities 2 a: the principal female character in a literary or dramatic work b: the central female figure in an event or period. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

She is quite literally, the central, lead character in a romance. When an author writes a story, the entire story revolves around this woman’s actions, challenges, reactions, thoughts and feelings.

Even when writing from the man’s point of view, we are given glimpses into the character of the heroine.

To write a heroine that readers love, an author must delve deeply into the psyche of humanity. A heroine can have negative feelings and thoughts, but they must always be tempered by the cause or motivation for those emotions. In addition, those feelings must be fleeting, or be negated by something positive in her heart.

Although there are a few heroines written who are gossipy, unkind, money-grubbing and self-centered (the movie character Scarlett O’Hara comes to mind) in most cases, a true heroine only displays these tendencies, without believing them. How she feels and thinks about these negative emotions is quite the contrary and it is delineated by her warmth, heart and caring.

Heroines, quite simply, are heroic. They may be scared, they may be angry, they may be upset, tearful, whiny, and cranky, but in the end, they understand that they must act, and by acting, they show their courage, control, compassion and worth to the reader.


Debra St. John said...

Thanks for this peek into heroines. They can be fun, tricky, or downright difficult to write. (And although gossipy and self-centered, Scarlett will always be one of my favorites!)

Unknown said...

I have read GWTW over and over trying to understand the mystique of such a bare knuckle b*tch. I decided that Scarlet, though not always likabe, is always someone to respect. Even if it's simply out of fear.