Thursday, March 20, 2008

Today's Heroine

I find this an interesting topic of discussion. Just what do readers want to see in today's heroine? The trend seems to be in kick-ass, smart, strong women who don't really need a man so much as want a man. Keep in mind I'm not talking about historicals, in which the heroine has to suit the times much more. Today there's no law that says a woman can't own land, run a business, or have sex whenever she wants to (within reason, not publicly), so her constraints are much less than those of women long ago.

That said, I'll talk about what I like in heroine. Sure, I like reading about blond bombshells. Women who can eat like a horse, yet still look as slim and graceful as a gazelle. And maybe I find these women fascinating because they're not like me. I do, however, need my heroine to be intelligent, decisive, and strong, even if she makes bad decisions and chooses not to lean on the hero when she really should.

Physically, I like the woman who is attractive in her man's eyes. She can be a size 14 or 18, or a size 8. I like it when the women look like women, because reading about heroines who look like young waifs or young boys makes me think pedophilia, a HUGE no-no and turn off to reading anything romantic, at least for me. She can be of any race, creed or color, but I'm not into lectures about prejudice from authors, and I've read some IR books where this seems to be the author's sole purpose for writing it. Nothing wrong with mentioning the heroine's trials and tribulations, as to flesh out her character, but not at the expense of the romance.

I want my heroine to be comfortable in her own skin, or if she isn't at the beginning, to see her embracing her heritage by the end of the book. And to be honest, sometimes it's refreshing to read about frizzy haired, large breasted, ample waisted women that are so sexy and irresistible to their men. Of course, in many of my books, I'm writing about women who are wolves, vampires and aliens as well. And that makes for an interesting take on what really means "beauty" to the masses.

I also like to read about women in their late twenties and thirties. When I was just in my early twenties, I liked them younger. But I now have a hard time relating to the 16 or 18 year old heroine anymore (historicals), or even the "wise" twenty-three year old, especially since I remember how unwise I was back then. I like her to be in her late twenties to mid-thirties. Not that I won't read about a fifty or sixty year old woman, but I don't identify with her as much. And I think of books centering around women who are grandparents (or of that age) as women's fiction, not so much romance.

I'm currently plotting a book in which the heroine is in her mid to late twenties, and biracial as well as a human/alien hybrid. She's pretty kick-ass herself, but she needs that someone special by her side to show her just how wonderful she really is. And I say "needs" someone because she doesn't "want" anything more than to accomplish her mission day in and day out. A strong yet lonely young woman with an ax to grind. I can't wait for her to meet the hero.

And that's my take on what I like to see in a heroine. I'm interested in what readers want to see in their heroines. :)

No comments: