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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

HEROINE TOUR: WRITING THE FLAWED HEROINE



This is the fourth stop in RWA/NYC's Heroine Blog Tour!
Join us again next Wednesday.



WRITING THE FLAWED HEROINE
by Katana Collins


Your story is her story. Without her, there is no tale to tell. She is the axis on which your world spins. Your heroine. She is also your reader's alter-ego. When your job is done well, your readers will feel everything she feels. And while your readers don't have to always identify with your heroine, they do need to care about her. And “care” can be a very general term.

How I care about about Dorothy from THE WIZARD OF OZ is completely different from how I care about Scarlett O'Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND. But both are captivating and wonderful heroines, even though one is so sweet you'll get a cavity while the other, we simply love to hate.


Now, I personally can't relate to either character. I'm not overly naïve and sweet, like Dorothy. However, she grows into so much more by the time she finds home. On her journey, we see her mature and kick some ass to protect, not only herself, but also her new-found friends—all in a pair of fabulous shoes.

As for Miss Scarlett: She is raised to be a lady. Spoiled—gets whatever she wants whether through wiles or grit. Her entire world revolves around pretty clothes, social gatherings and she has perfected the art of wrapping men around her dainty little finger.

It was probably a huge gamble to write such an unlikeable character, right? Mitchell ran the risk of alienating a large group of readers. However, I think the key to success with Scarlett specifically was the fact that though she reads as shallow, she feels complicated.

Writing a flawed heroine is a delicate tap dance on a 2x4 wood plank. At any moment, you could easily slip off the edge causing your readers to snap that book shut and toss it into the “donate” pile. The key to this balance—with your imperfections must also come complementary strengths. For example, we love Scarlett's spirit; her chutzpah. But hate her narrow-minded selfishness. We accept that she is selfish because she is independent and headstrong and not bound by convention.

With a lot of contemporary books, we see a large number of heroines who are 99% great; sweet and adorable—with maybe one character flaw that is super easy to overlook. And don't get me wrong...I love some of these ladies, too...however, with Scarlett, she is real. And I don't know about all of you, but I certainly don't have only one easy to deal with flaw (just ask my husband!). It is refreshing to read a character who is honest and layered and just as exasperating as some people I meet in real life.

The bottom line is most readers can't identify with a perfect heroine. We love flaws (usually when they're within someone other than ourselves) and seeing how people overcome these problems. And finding that balance of imperfections as well as positive attributes will help you create that three-dimensional rounded heroine that you not only want to write...but the rest of us want to read.♥



Katana Collins is the author of the paranormal erotic romance series SOUL STRIPPER (June, 2013-Aphrodisia). She splits her time equally as a writer and boudoir photographer in Brooklyn, NY where she lives with her husband, two rescue pups and a gaggle of unwritten heroes and heroines in her head. She also drinks coffee—lots and lots of coffee. Visit her at www.KatanaCollins.com or follow her on Twitter (@katanacollins) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/KatanaCollins).


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3 comments:

  1. Great post. I do like more Scarlett than Dorothy in my heroines.

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  2. A wonderful and thought provoking post. I'm with you in that I prefer my heroines kick-ass and often darker rather than all sweetness & light. I enjoy reading about heroines overcoming adversity, triumphing over bad luck and rising to the challenges of their own personality. Showing a heroine who even leans a bit towards the Scarlett type can be wonderfully successful as long as you show her growing and learning and changing for the better. And what better HEA can an author offer than a heroine who's come through the fire a better person? Rock On!

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  3. Great post! Finding the right proportion of sugar/sweet for a heroine is really hard, especially because female characters are given much less leeway when it comes to attitude. We've been socialized to think that women are supposed to put up with whatever gets thrown at them and still be sweet. We need more kickass, flawed heroines that teach women that you don't have to be perfect to be loved.

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