Posts Tagged ‘heroines’ Archive

Beware the Weak Heroine

One of my biggest pet-peeves in writing is the weak heroine and the shallow love story.

When I was in middle and high school Amelia Atwater-Rhodes  and Tamora Pierce were my favorite authors because they got it. They got that I didn’t want to read about sniveling girls who were struck dumb by every boy who glanced sideways at them. I didn’t want to read about girls like that because I was a girl like that. I wanted to read about heroines who took control, who fought hard and didn’t have brains that frequently stopped working. I wanted to read about girls who showed me how to be who I wanted to be. These were the girls I day-dreamed of becoming.

If you haven’t read any of Amelia’s work, go read them. Now. Demon in my View. (Amelia did vampires long before the fad and she did it much, much better). Hawksong. Shattered Mirror. You can not go wrong with any of her books. Same with Tamora Pierce. For many years, I idolized Alanna.


When younger, in the YA ‘age zone.’ I dreamed of falling in love, but I got something. I understood that love wasn’t it. Love wasn’t everything. All of the books I have deemed worthy of keeping (some that I’ve had since elementary school) have female main characters who are willing to pass up love for something greater.

Sabriel. Yalena. Opal. Jessica. Alanna. Mary. All great examples of this.

Strength. Spunk. Fight. Soul.

The shallow love story? I don’t believe it. I have never believed it because even before experiencing love, I knew the shallow stuff would never, ever last more than the two seconds spent in the story. I knew that the girl, plus love, plus boy did not equal overcoming all evil. (Yes, this is real math. Girl+love+boy ≠ conquer evil). There has to be something in the girl before the love that makes her strong.

Yes, I know this is all personal taste. I know love is something to aspire to and it is beautiful, wonderful, make-you-throw-up incredible. I absolutely concede these things.

But please, authors, don’t write a heroine who, if she read her own book, would be ashamed of her actions and ask herself, Why? Why was I such a goon over that boy and completely passed by the rest of the world? Write a character who would be proud of herself. Write a character little girls can aspire to be.

Writer a heroine who is the hero: flawed, yes, but strong and courageous despite those failings, willing to persevere and overcome her own weaknesses.

Of course, she should be willing to bend herself to love and let love make her greater, make her better, make her able to relent to the goodness love brings. But take the inherent strength in your heroine and let love make that strength all the more powerful. That is when love is believable.

Love can not create strength from nothing. If you try to convince your reader of this, they will see straight through it.

Lies do not become us.

Write a heroine/hero who is capable of great things both with love and without it. If you can do this, then you will have a great character on your hands.

(I will not be posting an audiobook review tomorrow. I only made it through two discs of Wither before I quit. Go for the read on this one folks, not the listen).