Difficult Women

Again I have been somewhat slack on the blog front – March has been full of edits and deadlines and I just haven’t got to it.


I have a post I’ve been meaning to write. And it’s about the problem of writing a difficult heroine. I’ve written about this before a few times but I wanted to write it again because, well, I think it bears repeating.

We’re tough on heroines as readers. They either have to be like us or better than us and yet not so perfect as to be sickening. We forgive things in a hero that we wouldn’t forgive in a heroine because, well, he’s the hero. Perhaps it’s because we expect more of women than we do of men, I don’t know, but a hero can be an a-hole and that’s mostly okay. But a heroine can’t get away with the same thing. If a hero is a billionaire because he loves money, he’s adorably selfish. If a heroine loves money she’d be just selfish and grasping (unless she has a poor ailing mother/sister/father/brother/granny/next door neighbour’s ancient aunt Flo to support). A hero who sleeps around is a playboy. A heroine who sleeps around a slut.

Double standards my friends. We don’t like ’em but they’re there.

It makes it tough for a writer. Do you write a heroine whose flaws are miniscule in order to please editors/readers? Or do you write to please yourself and the story you want to tell?

People in real life are complicated – too complicated for fiction often and so writers have to simplify, especially in genre fiction. But does that mean you have to write only aspirational people leading aspirational kind of lives as a writer? If you’re writing romance then you DO have to make at least some part of your characters identifiable – heroes at their core have to be heroic and not the creepy pedo from down the road for example. 😉 But I know I don’t want to write about of bunch of Mary Sues. I never have. I think that’s partly why it took me a while to get the hang of writing romance and why I got a lot of Rs from that ‘orange tree’ I wrote about in my second to last post.

Because I don’t want to write perfect people – especially not perfect women. I want to write about women who have real issues, who make mistakes and bad decisions, who are mean to the hero. Who screw up. Who are selfish. Who are scared to trust. Who are vulnerable. Who have sh*t to learn and sh*t they have to get together before they get their HEA. Who are difficult to write and get right.

And I’ll continue to write heroines like that. Because ultimately, I’m not writing for my editors or for every reader. I can’t, not if I want the books I write to be Jackie Ashenden books. In order to do that, I have to write for myself. I have to write what I enjoy writing. And I like writing about effed up people. 🙂

On the upside,  I also don’t write the same character over and over again so for those of you frustrated by Anna from Falling for Finn, you might find Izzy from Black Knight, White Queen easier to connect with. She’s definitely not perfect but she’s gutsy and open and likes a game of strip chess now and then. 😉  (BTW, that was a completely transparent promo attempt if you hadn’t noticed). And I’m thinking of giving away a copy of the book to newsletter peoples so if you’d like a chance to win it, sign up! (down the bottom of the page, see? SEE?)

So what are other people’s thoughts on heroines?

2 thoughts on “Difficult Women”

  1. I like messed up characters in general. The bigger the train-wreck, the better I like them.

    I’m hoping that the heroine I’m writing right now(who seriously betrayed the hero in the past, and has big time insecurities and anger issues) won’t be too far out of the ‘good heroine’ mold.

    And, as expected, the hero is a total a-hole and I’m not worried about him!

    1. Lol Amalie! She sounds awesome. Why should the hero be the only one with anger issues? And yep, bring on the train wrecks. The dude I’m writing now…man, I’m wondering if I’m taking on more than I can handle with him! 😉

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