Damsels in Distress Need not Apply
Characters are my theme for the blog this month. Check out last week’s post where it’s all about my heroes. This week we are looking at the leading ladies. I can’t wait to introduce them to you, so read on.
MY LOVE/DISLIKE FOR MY HEROINES:
True confessions time Y'all. When I started writing my heroes would come to me fully formed and in all their glory. I was all about the hero. When it came time to pick the woman who would become his one true love, I would get stuck. I would like to be all high and mighty and say it was because I need to craft the perfect woman, but no. I was jealous. These were my heroes. Mine. I didn’t want to see them with anyone else but me. When I would work scenes in my head, I was always the stand in. (No judging allowed.)
My heroines always laid on the page flat like cardboard. I would read blogs and articles about writing great characters. I knew my heroes were fabulous, but not my ladies. Around that time, I was teaching 8th grade English (still waiting for my medal of honor). We were discussing plot vs. character in class. I realized my female characters were one dimensional because I was treating them that way. It may have been because I was repressing my own broken parts as a modern woman. I may not have wanted to search too deeply into what my characters were missing, wanting, or needing. It was too close to home or, I was jealous and didn’t want to share. We may never know.
HOW I FLESH OUT MY HEROINES TO MAKE THEM HUMAN:
I need to find out what they want, even if they don’t know what they
want. They need to be in a situation where acting counter to what is expected is their only choice for moving forward. I also realized that I needed heroines who could handle my heroes. If they can’t go toe to toe with the man, they will not be his happily ever after or he hers.
There are usually a lot of lists about what she could want and why. Then there are the lists about why she can’t have what she wants because that is where the story is.
I look for their greatest fear. At the end of the day, what is the one thing that could destroy them. For my first heroine, this was losing her independence and being nobody. She was so scared o
f it before the story even started, she faked her own death running to Scotland to hide from the one man she could love.
I also find a picture that embodies the essence of my heroine to inspire me and make her real in my mind. Often by looking at the picture, I can see things I hadn’t known before.
WHY I CHOOSE NOT TO WRITE TRADITIONAL REGENCY HEROINES:
My heroines are strong, willful, and at times dangerous, but before they can be any of those things, I need to find out why. I write
Historical romance. It can be very limiting if you think of the typical example of a Regency lady. This was a time before women’s suffrage. Wives were still considered property on paper, and it was difficult or almost impossible for a lady of status to have a job outside of being a wife and mother.
I have had many people over the years tell me I can’t allow my heroines to do things they do because "it was the Regency and they were not allowed." Well, I counter that with my firm belief that human nature is human nature, no matter the time period. There had to have been women during the Regency that did not go along with the prevailing view of society. If not, where did the ideas of women’s suffrage or equality come from? Once I came to terms with the fact my heroines were going to behave badly to one group of readers, I was fine with it.
Damon Suede said at a conference that a character must change the world they live in during the course of the book. That world could be the drawing room in their own house, but the character must act to change their world. So yeah, my heroines shake things up.
BEFORE YOU GO LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO MY HEROINES:
Miss Ella Bowen-Thorn-Renwick, the owner of her own bakery in a small Scottish town in Dealing with the Viscount, is surprised when the husband she fled from four years ago appears. She fights against his charm to preserve her independence and protect her heart.
Lady Louissa Adair from An Heiress by Midnight comes out fighting, giving her hero a good scar from her sword on their very first encounter. She can’t deal with one more insufferable man while trying to find her brother before her uncle sells her off the highest bidder. Oh, and did I mention she is trying to prove her uncle had her parents killed? Clive has to work over time to appear on her radar and get them to a happily ever after.
The Honorable Aisling Lightowler from Visions of Pleasure goes against her father’s wishes to get her hero to her house to solve a 100-year-old mystery. In the process, she is taken in by Bastion’s own visions. She is tenacious and strong-willed, but nothing a Spanish Count can’t fall in love with.
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