Tuesday, September 18, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Hip heroines

Writing heroines can be easy...and tricky!
I want my heroines to be the epitome of the strong, modern woman, with the world at her feet and a shoe wardrobe any of us would be proud of.
I want my heroines to have the street smarts to distinguish between a Prince and a frog.
I want my heroines to be bold, sassy, slightly flawed and human.
Quite simply? I want my heroines to have it all!
When I write my heroines, I particularly focus on that last point: make them human.
If she's too perfect, readers won't identify with her (or will want to poke her eye out with envy!) Give her a sympathetic flaw or two, a problem or conflict we all deal with or might have dealt with in our past. That way, as readers we can stand by her through the whole book, cheering her on from the sidelines along the bumpy road to her happily-ever-after.
I find casting heroines not as essential as heroes, because I 'think' like the heroine. I'm inside her head a lot more than the heroes so her words, thoughts and actions flow from fingertips to keyboard much easier.
My editor has said several times that my books are strongly heroine-driven, featuring women she'd love to be best friends with and I take that as a great compliment. This says these women are real and if you can achieve that in your writing, your reader will want to keep turning the pages to discover what happens to your heroine in the end.
In COURTING CUPID, the minute I knew my heroine would be headstrong, a tad prickly and very cynical, Sandra Bullock sprang to mind. Think Miss Congeniality: the tough, headstrong cop with prickles galore!!
However, I don't always cast an actress or someone famous in the role of heroine. I've been inspired by an expression by a model in a magazine before, by a tilt of the head, by the smile.
And there's no surprise that my heroine folder is a lot less jam-packed than my heroes. I don't go looking for heroines, whereas a gal can never have too many heroes... :)

What do you find the essential ingredient for a fab heroine?
Any particular favourite heroines?


Ray-Anne said...

Hi Nicola.
What good questions!
For me the female lead has to be a good match for the hero on multiple layers.
She has to have firm goals which make sense- and then the strength to act on them. Nothing turns me off a book faster than a weak silly girl with nothing to say for herself. If she has a one night stand with the hero, it is because she wants one and accepts the consequences without bleating[sorry, but that is me]
Making her sympathetic and empathetic is the writers' challenge of course. LOL Ray-Anne

Nicola Marsh said...

you're so right.
A weak heroine can take me right out of the plot, leaving me shaking my head at why she's being so naive.
As for the challenge...oh yes, it's a big one! :)