What makes a good heroine?

Arthur Rackham 1909 Undine (11 of 15)

Not a rhetorical question. I really do want to know what makes a good heroine.

In theory, it’s simple. She has to have agency, not be a doormat.

In practice, my heroines tend to annoy the bejabbers out of me.

I love my heroes. Geoff, for instance, leaps into action the moment a crisis appears.

But my heroines? They whine. They pout. I haven’t had one stamp her foot yet thankfully. (I won’t be held responsible for my actions if one tries that.) They Are Annoying.

For the moment, the only thing I can think of is to go through the story, line by line. Every time my heroine sighs, or thinks “there’s nothing I can do” I am replacing her feeble words with strong ones. If she has to be stymied, she can at least be doing something while she’s stuck. And that does not include sighing.

Lia sighed. “I don’t know how to get another dress in that time. Or even if I had more time, I don’t have the money. I’ll have to find a place to stay where I can try to clean this dress somehow…”

Lia stood up. “I have to find a place to stay before I can clean this dress. Do you know where I can find Mrs. Whitlow’s laundry?”

Does that work better? I think perhaps it does.

Have you ever read a story where you just wanted to shake the heroine? Or a story where you loved the heroine? Maybe revising this story would be easier if I looked at how other writers handled their characters. But maybe that would send me down a rabbit hole of distraction. I’ll try finishing this revision first and then go read some good books while the draft “sets” a while.

If you have any books with great heroines to recommend, please let me know!


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