Is it a sin to contemplate cold-blooded murder if the person you want to kill lives only in your imagination? I certainly hope not, because I’m about ready to strangle the heroine from my Medieval WIP, Her Heart’s Desire. My sudden dislike of this heroine isn’t her fault, of course. She is as demure and reserved as I’ve asked her to be, behaving with all of the grace and dignity of a gentlewoman in 12th Century England. And I hate her for it.
She has no backbone – not in the beginning chapters, anyway – yet she is the backbone of the story. If she doesn’t stand up to the hero (and his evil relatives) right from the start, then her bold actions in middle of the story will surely seem out of character. Worse, there won’t be sufficient conflict in those oh-so-important first three chapters.
The heroine in my other Medieval WIP is easier and more fun to write because she is bold and defiant. But she’s a litter older and a lot more vexed than the heroine in Her Heart’s Desire, who is young and very innocent in the first part of my manuscript. When I first started to write her story, I didn’t want her to be “feisty” like the heroines of old. I wanted her to be dutiful in the first chapters and not offer much resistance to the hero. So that’s how I wrote it. And now my heroine is one boring maiden.
From everything I’ve read I know a great heroine should:
• Not be a doormat
• Be strong enough to handle the hero, even at his worst
• Have an inner strength, even if they are quiet and mousy
• Be kind and gentle (but not so kind that they become too fluffy)
• Complement the hero and serve as a foil to him
• Not be too stupid to live
• Not be perfect
• Can be tormented but not tortured by their pasts
• Not be weak
I’ve read lots of romances featuring quiet heroines who were strong enough to handle the hero. I know it’s possible to create this type of heroine; I just need to figure out how to do it. I need my heroine to be great! If you have any suggestions on how to keep my heroine graceful yet strong, I’d love to hear it.