Building a Heroine (and An Award)

I’ve been putting this off because quite frankly, heroines are not my strong point. I prefer heroes because, well, to be honest, I’m way more interested in him than I am in her. And possibly also because I’m just not very good at writing a decent heroine. I think the only one of mine that I really liked was the geeky heroine in my sadly rejected full. She was lovely. Vulnerable, sweet, but terribly, terribly stubborn. Told the hero he was just a big, fat dirty coward. Loved her. She’ll get her HEA one day but today I’m building my good old Kiwi girl to complement my naughty Frenchman…

Okay, so, my hero wants control in his relationships. He wants this because control quells the fear he has of being abandoned. So in order to really up the tension in this story, I need to give the heroine something that will really conflict with his need for control. And I’m going for independence here. So my heroine believes that independence or self reliance in her relationships is the key to fighting her fear of having love used to control her (backstory alert!). Having love used to control her made her feel she wasn’t important and that her feelings didn’t matter so she definitely wants to avoid this. Yay. Now I have two completely opposite motivations and secret fears here which is great because that’s how I’ll get the greatest tension in the story.

Of course,my problem now is that if the heroine doesn’t want to be controlled, why would she fall for a hero who wants to control things? So I’ll have to give the hero some qualities that she will admire. These qualities will probably be related to her backstory. Perhaps in her past men have been unreliable and let her down, in which case she will admire trustworthyness and reliability. So I’ll make him reliable and trustworthy. Since she values these attributes, she’ll endeavour to make sure she herself is trustworthy too – thereby making her more attractive to the hero because, as you remember, if he thinks she’s trustworthy, she’ll be less likely to abandon him.

Right, so I have some conflict and motivation for the heroine. I’ve got some things for her to admire in the hero. So now I can build her backstory. If she wants independence then perhaps she runs her own company, likes to do things herself. Perhaps she’s also practical and down to earth, good traits when it comes to pricking the arrogance-bubble the hero surrounds himself in. She will also need a spine of steel in order to stand up to the hero’s demands. But that’s okay because as her motivation is independence, that’s totally in keeping with her character – she’s not going to let anyone control her so she will fight him as and when required…
Hey, think I’m getting there. Not a stereotype in sight. And now I’ve got her most basic conflict straight, she’ll act like she’s supposed to and I won’t have to give her extreme character traits to make her do what I want!

At least that’s the plan.

Right, on with the award. I’ve been nominated for a Happy Cupcake Award! Thanks to Maya, Lacey, and Kerrin! This requires me to list 10 things that make me happy. So here they are, in no particular order:

1. Dr Jax.
2. My girls.
3. Kohu Road Dark Chocolate icecream.
4. Writing.
5. My latest hero.
6. A nice vodka martini.
7. All my lovely blog friends (shameless flattery, yes, I know).
8. A good book.
9. My iPhone.
10. Great Uncle Visa. πŸ˜‰

Now I should nominate 10 bloggers who also make me happy but since all of you already have been nominated and you all make me happy, I shall extend the award to anyone who missed out! Enjoy the cupcakes everyone!

Oh and how is everyone else’s heroines getting on? Ready to shoot them yet?? πŸ˜‰

17 thoughts on “Building a Heroine (and An Award)”

  1. Hey Jackie, sounds like you’re well on your way. Laurie’s course was obviously very helpful πŸ™‚

    You’ve paved the way for some delicious conflict here. I don’t have a problem with my heroine, but with my hero. Men are such a mystery sometimes πŸ™‚

    Happy writing!

  2. Angie – oh yeah! Very helpful! I’m a terrible over-complicater so it was great to figure out how to keep things simple.
    Ah men… Let’s swap huh? You figure out my heroine, and I’ll do your hero. So to speak. πŸ™‚

  3. Clawing my way out of my writing hole to offer you congratulations. Nothing better than a happy cupcake! You’re new characters sound like fun to write.

    And, nope, I still love my heroine. Thank God for that, or spending so much time with her and her hero would be painful.


    (and make my cupcake chocolate)

  4. Janette – she’s behaving so far. I pulled the old ‘be good otherwise you won’t get your love scene with the hero’ trick and that made her smarten up sharpish. πŸ˜‰

    Amy – congrats on having a great heroine! It does make things easier eh?

  5. Hey Jackie
    Like Angie I can see you’re thinking along the line’s of Laurie’s course! I’m trying to as well. I’m also at making up hero and heroine’s stage and trying to give them completely opposite motivations!! ARGH!! It’s all so tricky. I think of one thing, love it and then realise it mucks up everything I’ve thought of thus far!!

    Good luck… great reading about your progress!

  6. you make is sound so easy!
    Just when i thought i’d nailed my heroes IC, i had a major lightbulb moment while driving to kindy this morning (not the best time – i couldn’t pull over and write it down!) and realised EXACTLY what his conflict really was.
    I think i have to go back to thinking more about my heroine. I’m with you. Even though i find her the easiest to write while writing the story, she is the hardest to get the handle of in the initial set up!
    Yours sound great! What was the course you did?

  7. Rach – I know! In fact,I’m still not completely happy wth the heroine’s conflict but..well…it’ll do for now. And hey, at least I’m thinking about it beforehand!

    Lacey – Haven’t started writing her yet. She’ll no doubt turn round and bite me when I least expect it. Oh and absolutely re Great Uncle Visa. However, I don’t make him happy alas. πŸ˜‰

    Kerrin – it’s not easy! If fact I may have to go and tweak her IC again. And I totally do the same. I get to a certain point in the ms and realise I haven’t thought of, say, her relationship with her mother. Or her sister or something. And it turns out to be vitally important! Argh. Trying to work out the kinks before writing it is hopefully a way to avoid meltdown!
    Oh, the course is at WriterU by Laurie Schnebly. Called Plotting Via Motivation. It was awesome.

  8. Ooh, I’m so impressed Jackie, you’ve really put a lot of thought into this and I think it will pay dividends when you write the story… I guess you also have to be fluid and know that anything can change but as long as you know your characters core motivations it’s a big help.

    I’m just sent my latest ms off to my ed a whole two weeks early (Yay). Now, I’m not saying there won’t be revs, there will be (I’ve not had a book yet that went thru without any!!), but it felt much less traumatic writing this one than the last one and I’m sure it’s cos I had a very clear idea of the conflicts first. And as a result I didn’t tie myself in too many knots trying to work them out while writing it.

    good luck with your story, it sounds like a winner to me.

  9. Heidi – Ooooh, thanks! Yeah, I still have revelations about the characters and some things about them may change, but I think that having the core motivation and conflict clear first is going to make a huge difference.
    Hey, great news on your new ms. Glad it was a less traumatic experience! Sounds like knowing the conflicts first is the way to go eh? Do let us know when it’s out – can’t wait to read it!
    As to mine being a winner well, I hope so! A girl can dream…;-)

  10. I think it sounds wonderful, Jackie! I’m really excited about this one. You’ve got some really great subs lined up, because 3 days is brilliant too.

    I love love love it when the h and H’s conflicts compliment and conflict. It’s so great! And I think it really makes for great character development because they HAVE to progress in order to be together.

  11. Maisey – thanks for the lovely comment, m’dear! You’re the best. Glad you think my Frenchman might work. You’re absolutely right, they can’t be happy until they realise that the way they have been dealing with life up till this point is wrong – or at least won’t get them what they want. Each has to learn something from the other.
    Now all I have to do is write the jolly thing! Sigh.

  12. Jackie, I don’t get by here nearly enough, but I really think your blog is one of the most instructional writing blogs out there. You and Maisey really help authors break things down into manageable chunks. I’m going to have to add both you ladies to my blogroll.

    Good luck with your Frenchman! πŸ™‚

  13. Jackie, I’m with you on the heroine. She’s always so stubborn and yeah the hero is much more interesting!

    Congrats on the award. I was going to nominate you, but you got so many other nominations!

  14. Cari – Hey, that’s such a lovely thing to say! You’ve made my Sunday! It’s mainly just the things I’ve discovered work for me and if they help other people then that’s great!

    Kaily – a woman after my own heart! Yep, bring on the hero I say. πŸ™‚

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