I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Makes a Great Heroine in a Story?

Sunday Evening, November 17, 2013
We Have A winner! 
Stephanie Roberts  

A couple of weeks ago I asked a question on Facebook about the type of heroines readers liked to read about. You can see the answers here. Overall, I think readers like imperfect but strong women who are kind, courageous, and gutsy. Women with sterling character. Women a reader can relate to and aspire to be like.

And that got me to thinking about heroines in books I have read who had qualities that were less than sterling. Like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. She was totally unlike the character of Melanie. Scarlett was selfish and petty, and determined to have her way by any means necessary. However, it is this determination that gets her through the bad times.


A question. Did you initially like Melanie better than Scarlett?

But, you know what? I think we all want to be a little like Scarlett sometimes. When I heard her say, “As God as my witness, they are not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God as my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” 

I could understand where she was coming from. And of course, she wasn’t the same person at the end of the book as she was at the beginning.

Another heroine I’ve encountered lately is Tess Gerritsen’s prickly Jane Rizzoli. In the books, while she doesn’t look like Angie Harmon, who plays her in the TV show Rizzoli and Isles, she nails her character. What Jane is not is tall and willowy. She can be whiny and irritating and not above getting revenge from perceived hurts. 

But I liked her because, again, she doesn't give up. She keeps fighting for respect from her all male colleagues. I’ve only read Gerritsen’s first book, The Surgeon, but look forward to catching up on the others, in part to see how Rizzoli grows.

How about you? What makes a great heroine? Are you ever drawn to women who are at first unlikeable? In GWTW, did you like Melanie better than Scarlett? Leave a comment by Sunday night, either here or at my personal blog and be entered in a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card. Leave a comment at both and be entered twice!

Patricia Bradley
www.patriciabradleyauthor.com
http://mbtponderers.blogspot.com/
@PTBradley1

Shadows of the Past from Revell February 2014 
Available for preorder at CBD, and Amazon, and B&N.


I asked God to teach me patience and He gave me a book to write

32 comments:

  1. I'm going to be honest here: There was a time in my life when I liked heroines who needed a hero who rescued them -- they weren't all that strong. They weren't all that ... anything. They needed a hero. (Hmmmm. Isn't there a song along that line? I need a hero ...)
    But I've changed. I like stronger women now -- and yes, they still want a hero in their life. But they can do a little rescuing of the hero too.
    Gimme a little of Melanie and a little of Scarlett -- someone tender and tough.

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    1. I totally agree, Beth! Like Allison in Wish You Were Here and Kendall in Catch a Falling Star!

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  2. Melanie was my favorite when I first read GWTW. Even though she may have been weak, emotionally and physically, she was a loyal friend. Now, I like Scarlett's character arc better. She changed from being self-centered to being the caretaker for two families.

    I haven't read Tess Gerritsen's books, but I do like Rizzoli and Isles. :)

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  3. Hi Angie. I agree totally with your view of Scarlett. Tess Gerritsen writes a great book...just don't start one before you go to bed. lol Great to see you here!

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  4. Would I be terrible to say it's been so many years since I watched GWTW that I don't remember much of Melanie's character? Sigh. I guess it's time to get my hands on that movie again. Or better, read the book. :)

    I can start a journey with a heroine who is hard to like as long as there's something about her that resonates. I can live with her ups and downs if there's a good arc. That said, I do like strong women as heroines. You've got me thinking about my own heroines, Pat. Nice post!

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    1. That's the way it was with me and Jane Rizzoli in the Surgeon. At first I didn't like her, but then I began to see her strength. Glad I got you to thinking about your heroine, Jeanne!

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  5. Perseverance would be a good trait, I think. Go after it! Although, I need it myself! I waited until I was grown to see GWTW, because when my mother took my sister at 15, I was 12 and she wanted it to be special for her. Then my sister took me when we were about 21 and 24. I knew what the story was about though, and I always dreamed of a house like that...after all, when you grow up in the South, who didn't want that back in the old days??

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    1. That was before we realized how much work it'd take to keep it clean, Mary Ann! I went to see GWTW with my cousin when I was 15. For days after that I went around the house saying, "Fiddle dee dee." Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. Yes, maybe not always a good thing, but I vastly preferred gutsy, even sometimes atrocious Scarlett, to Melanie. I think the analogy works to compare characters w/ foods. Too bland, too tasteless and w/o identifiable flavors, we may spit it out as fast as infants often spit out pablum. Give me something flavorful--and memorable. If it's delicious enough, I'll look for that dish, restaurant, (author), again!

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    1. Oh! great answer, Dee! I want my next heroine to be sassy...just have to get into that frame of mind. :-)

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  7. To be honest, I hated GWTW (the movie). I had read the book twice before seeing the movie and felt the movie creators made all the women in that movie emotionally challenged. I couldn't get past all the weeping, screaming, and high pitched squeals. I l-o-v-e-d the book. And Melanie was my favorite over Scarlett. She was down to earth, accepting of herself, others, and her circumstances. But maybe that's what made her the weaker character in the long run.

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    1. Great insight, Jennie! I read the book after I saw the movie. I was 15 and that book stayed with me for years. Still does. :-)

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  8. I do like strong heroines best. Frail, whiney things get a bit irritating. I'm thinking about changing one of stories and making the sister the heroine.

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    1. I love it when another character nudges her way to the top, Teri. That just happened with the book I'm working on now.

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  9. I like heroines that falter at the defining moment but eventually make the right choice. What I don't like are weak characters that never grow. If they haven't learned anything by the end of the book, I feel cheated.

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    1. Tracy, I agree a character can start out weak, but they must grow. I think that's why I never thought I'd like the Twilight series. It seems Bella doesn't ever do anything. :-)

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    2. So, Pat, did you like the Twilight books?

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    3. Couldn't get past the first chapter, Roxanne. :-)

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  10. It's been decades since I read GWTW, so I'm thinking of movie-Melanie. Though she had a weaker constitution, I don't think she's a weak character. She just wasn't the star that Scarlett was. Wasn't it Melanie who shot the soldier? And she demonstrated good sense and poise when Rhett brought home her injured husband. She was intuitive, kind-hearted, and loyal. I agree that Scarlett is the dynamo (and we're perhaps a little envious of her cunning determination), but Melanie had strengths, too.

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    1. I so agree, Johnnie. As I've revisited GWTW, I've come to appreciate Melanie.

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    2. Agree! And what about that part about them leaving ATL after Melanie just gave birth! Not an easy birth, at that.

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  11. I like strong heroines. If there is a reason for them to be aggressive, like to save a child or friend, then I find it admirable.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Great point, Jackie. I'm working on my heroine, who from all appearances, has done something not very noble in her past and I'm trying to find ways for the reader to identify with her before they learn what she did.

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  12. I like strong heroines. She doesn't have to have that man in her life, she chooses to.

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  13. Terri, I like strong heroines too. And sometimes I have to tone them down just a little...give them a weakness. Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. I must say that I liked Scarlet better. But I would much rather have Melanie as a friend because of the kindness and grace that she showed others. Ashley, on the other hand...I wouldn't have that guy off a Christmas tree (as they say in rural south Alabama.) I wouldn't take Rhett, either, for that matter. :-) Hope you can visit me at www.thewritesteph.com for more stories about rural south Alabama!

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  15. I wouldn't have Ashley, either, Steph, but Rhett...I'd have to think a while before turning him down. You know how we like to "fix" our men. :-) Thanks for stopping by.

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  16. I'll admit I liked Scarlett better than Melanie when I first saw GWTW as a teen. At that time, to me, Melanie seemed simpering and weak. It was only after I reached my 30s that I realized I'd misjudged her. It was Melanie's strength, courage, selflessness, and self-control that kept her from flogging Scartlet...who deserved it.LOL.

    I must admit that only in the past few years have I become drawn to Clark Gable. I try to watch all his old movies, the ones set in the 30s. Wow, they just don't make men, or movies, like that anymore.

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    1. I so agree with you about Melanie. As I revisit GWTW, I realized there was much more to Melanie than I thought years ago. Thanks for stopping by Laurean!

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  17. I forgot to leave my email address...in case I win. landtbeth@yahoo.com. BTW, I enjoyed reading this post. Soooo interesting.

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  18. I like heroines who are real. When they start, they might be whiny or they might be tough as nails. As the book progresses, they learn and they learn to be what God made them. If they are quiet and shy at the beginning, maybe they come out of their shells a bit and learn some confidence. If they are brash and run over people in the beginning, maybe they learn to soften some. Growth is what I look for more in a really good and memorable heroine.

    As for GWTW, it's been so long since I've seen it that I probably shouldn't even give my 2 cents, but I think I like Melanie better the whole way through.

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    1. So agree, Staci. It's all about how the character grows. And Scarlett does grow.

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