Why do fools fall in love?

Hello from Atlanta!  I can’t believe it’s been a week since I blogged last – so sorry.  I was in Melbourne, FLA for the first annual Deep Thinker’s Retreat.  What fun, with a great group of aspiring author.  I just fell in love with this group of ladies!

Why?  Oh, I’ll tell you – 

First, I live in the woods, and when I say woods, I mean tucked into a little hamlet in the snowy tip of northern Minnesota, where ice and snow clasp us in solitude for the better part of four months. Worse, I am an extrovert, so….well you get the picture.  I shed my layers going south, met my friend, stood on the beach and shouted out a hallelujah!  The retreat Filled that Empty Place….you could say it Completed Me.

Secondly, I got to do what I love – I got to teach about writing craft.  Their need to learn brought out the BEST in me.

Lastly, these writers were there because they have a desire to share truth and grace through their stories.  Me too.  They’re values touched the heart of my Core Values. 

For those of you who attended the chat Monday night, well…okay, it wasn’t our best chats.  (But….I got my package, so thank you for praying!)  But in the  point of the chat was to talk about: Why do Fools fall in love. 

Let’s take another shot at it.. .Why do people fall in love? 

3 Reasons:

1.       They  complete each other

2.      They  make them better people

3.      They  understand each other.

Two weeks ago, we talked about the 5 elements of a heroic heroine, and we ended with a talk about BEAUTY.  A heroic heroine has to be beautiful to the hero.

Taking that apart, we started “with the eye of the beholder” (could be either hero, or heroine) and we looked at their vacancies as well as their strengths. 

Let’s recap:

  1. What are our beholders vacancies?   

Everyone has things they are not good at.  Maybe it’s the tendency to speak when you should listen.  Maybe it’s being wound so tight you can’t relax.  Maybe it’s the inability to commit to something, for fear of it backfiring.  Whatever it is, we are often drawn to someone who has a strength in the area where we are weak.  I’m hearing Jerry Maguire in my head, “You…complete me.” It’s those opposite, completing qualities that a hero might find attractive (as well as, sometimes, annoying!)  My sweet hubby can be brusque and insensitive sometimes.  He counts on me to be the gentle one, to clue him into his foibles. 

Ask this question:  How does your hero and heroine complete each other?

  1. What are your beholder’s strengths?   

My husband is an adventurer.  He loves to travel, and discover new things.  And he loves the fact that I am a willing participant.  Not only that, I hand over my visa and the map and say, “wherever we end up, I trust you.”  (This has taken some training over the years!)  But I’ve heard him say, “I love the fact that you keep up with me.”  Beauty is also found in acceptance, encouragement, and like-mindedness.  A man loves a woman who loves the things he loves, and helps him become better at it.  My husband loves to travel – and with me by his side, he has someone to join in on his adventures.  Not only that, with a heroine, a hero is stronger, wiser, more of a protector, even more sensitive and kind – (building on the above vacancies).  How does your heroine make your hero into a better man?  (and vice versa?)

But it’s not enough that they complete each other, or make each other into better people.  They also have to believe in something together.  That means…core values. 

3.  They Understand each other!  Couples who believe in something together – ie, true love, or that God is in control, or even that they will protect their children at all costs – whatever it is, they connect on a core level that bonds them together.  In essence – they GET or understand each other. 

When you are developing your character, you will naturally discover their core values.  Try and find a core value that matches your heroine/hero.  Then….make sure you write in a scene that exhibits that core value.  (and it especially helps if the other character sees is – but even if they don’t make sure they recognize it!) 

Why do fools fall in love?  I don’t think we even know ourselves when we are in the middle of it – but when the dust clears, well, hopefully it’s because you complete each other, you’re better together, and you understand each other.

And so do your hero/heroine!

(BTW: It doesn’t just apply to heroes, either.  It can be a mother-daughter relationship, or a friend to friend relationship – because we all have vacancies and strengths, and those in our lives either complement them or accentuate them.  And of course, the best friendships are based on the sharing of core values).  


I’m in Atlanta this weekend, teaching at Chip MacGregor’s Master Seminar:  How to Write Bestselling Fiction.  It’s…well, sorry, it’s full.  BUT… if you’re interested in a crash course in how to write Bestselling Fiction, our next event is in Portland, in April.  Check it out!

I’ll be back next week with: External Obstacles – the framework of conflict!

Susie May from Not-So HotLanta!

She’s so Beautiful to me!

So – you’ve created a heroine with confidence, despite her flaws and fears, one who has a goal that will drive her through the story. But you need one last element of a Heroic Heroine – and that is… 


Your heroine needs a special kind of beauty, both inner and outer that only the hero can see/love. Something special, only hers. Maybe it’s her eyes, but also the way that she can look right through him and see what he needs. Or maybe it’s her patience. Maybe it’s her strength to see the good, or believe in the good.  

Beauty – what is it? An informal Warren family poll taken a couple years ago elicited very different responses:  

16 year old boy: Someone who is smart.

13 year old boy: A girl who can run fast. (not sure why)

11 year old boy: Nice hair.

15 year old girl: Someone who is unique.

Married old guy: Softness. Someone who is happy and cheerful. 

What makes beauty? I think we can all agree that the bible points out that beauty comes from inside, and I agree. A crabby person, regardless of how beautiful, gives off a sheen of ugly. But a lovely person who exudes kindness can be very pretty.  

When we’re creating a heroine, especially in a romance, but even in a suspense, she has to possess her own beauty. All heroines will have something about them that makes them pretty to the hero. They could be genuinely pretty – and then, only get prettier as the hero gets to know them. Or, they could be plain, and turn gorgeous as their inner nature is revealed. The key is, the hero has to see it, and appreciate it.

 For example, let’s talk about one of my favorite actresses – Jodie Foster. Love her. She’s an amazing actress. However, I wouldn’t peg her as beautiful. One of my favorite movies of hers is Maverick, where she stars as a gambler against Mel Gibson. She’s a scamp, (and he likewise), doing what she has to get to into the big poker tournament (even stealing Mel’s money!). But the more she tricks Mel, and teases him, the more she turns irresistible to him. Her scoundrel ways is what draws him to her, and they make a perfect team.  

What makes your heroine beautiful?  

Beauty is unique to every man, every person. I see beauty in my daughter’s creativity, her independent spirit. My husband sees his daughter’s cheerful smile, the way she admires him. I don’t even what to know what the boys in her class see (maybe I don’t want to know!), but I know her friends see someone who listens, who gives wise advice. 

It’s these inner qualities that make a heroine beautiful (and likewise, a man handsome!) However, they are specific to each person. So, what does your hero see in your heroine? How do we discover your heroine’s unique beauty?  

We start “with the eye of the beholder” and we look at their vacancies, and their strengths.  

What are our beholders vacancies?  

Everyone has things they are not good at. Maybe it’s the tendency to speak when you should listen. Maybe it’s being wound so tight you can’t relax. Maybe it’s the inability to commit to something, for fear of it backfiring. Whatever it is, we are often drawn to someone who has a strength in that area. I’m hearing Jerry Maguire in my head, “You…complete me.” It’s those opposite, completing qualities that a hero might find attractive (as well as, sometimes, annoying!) My sweet hubby can be brusque and insensitive sometimes. He counts on me to be the gentle one, to clue him into his foibles.  

When you are looking for beauty, Ask: How does your heroine balance or complete the hero?  

What are your beholder’s strengths?  

My husband is an adventurer. He loves to travel, and discover new things. And he loves the fact that I am a willing participant. Not only that, I hand over my visa and the map and say, “wherever we end up, I trust you.” (This has taken some training over the years!) But I’ve heard him say, “I love the fact that you keep up with me.” Beauty is also found in acceptance, encouragement, and like-mindedness. A man loves a woman who loves the things he loves. What does your heroine do that affirms the hero? How does she accentuate his strengths?

 As the story progresses, your hero will see the outside of your heroine less and less, and her inside more and more, which will only accentuate her beauty on the outside. If she has freckles and lots of wild hair that at first is off-putting, he might gradually see her laughter and acceptance of him, and begin to love how they reveal her personality, until he adores those freckles and wild hair.  

It doesn’t just apply to heroes, either. It can be a mother-daughter relationship, or a friend to friend relationship – because we all have vacancies and strengths, and those in our lives either complement them or accentuate them.

 Irresistible…that’s what you are….

 Being Irresistible. That’s really what beauty is all about – it’s that package that makes a woman (or man) simply take over our hearts.

 In Return to Me why the heroine irresistible to the hero? First, because he’s desperately lonely. And she fills that vacancy through her wide embrace of others. She has a wide “family,” while he’s a loner, and has a hard time caring even for himself (the scene where his dog eats from the kitchen drawer is hilarious and sad). She also adds to his strengths – she has a humor he finds endearing (remember the bottled water scene?) and her humor and strength encourages his own ebbing spirit to keep going (remember, he’s building a gorilla park, against all odds).

 My favorite line is after she’s left, and he goes in to talk with the old guys, asking for her address. He doesn’t know what to do and says… “I ache for Gracie.” She has a place inside him, and missing her has left a giant hole. Wonderful! Irresistible!

 This beautiful quality is the last – and possibly the most important element – of a Heroic Heroine.

 How is your heroine irresistible? What draws her to your hero, and why can’t he live without her? Go post your answers, or get help on figuring this out at www.mybooktherapy.ning.com. Every Voice Counts!

 Have a wonderful Valentine’s weekend! May you find that irresistible and secret beauty of the one you love.

 Susie May



Give her a Backbone!

Yesterday here at MBT we talked about your heroine’s fears and flaws and how they work together to create a heroine that becomes heroic. 


Today, let’s touch on another element that a heroine needs —




Just like we don’t like wimpy heroes, we don’t like flimsy heroines.  Give her a sense of self that is confident, despite her flaws. It’s easy for a heroine to have flaws – mostly because we write about ourselves, and we all have flaws. So you need to work at putting confidence into your heroine, and giving her something she’s good at, that makes us applaud her.


Often, that confidence rises in the end to allow her to do something that she has never done before.  However, we need to see hints about it as the story progresses and as we get to know her better. 


For example, the heroine in 27 Dresses is excellent at helping someone plan their wedding, and making sure they have the perfect day. After all, she’s done it at least 27 times!  But she is terrible at voicing her own needs – which is why she ends up in 27 ugly dresses.  And, along that vein, she’s terrible at going after the man she longs for.  (as see by the way her sister takes the man she’s always loved – and our heroine even agrees to be in the wedding).  Finally, however she is able to recognize the man she truly loves – and in her final confident moment, she goes after him. 


The heroine in Sweet Home Alabama is excellent at controlling a staff of people and her own destiny – in the designer world of NYC.  But she can’t seem to control anyone down in Alabama, and of course her ex-husband is in control of her destiny.  She finally takes control if her heart at the end by choosing the man she’s always loved.


The heroine in Pearl Harbor is an RN – she can save lives, and keep her cool in times of darkness.  But she can’t seem to heal her heart.  However, she knows what the right thing to do is when she becomes pregnant – she’ll ‘save the life’ of the baby she carries – and heal herself by loving the father “with her whole heart.”


Give your heroine some confidence – something she does well, and something she then uses to stand up and become truly heroic in her darkest moment. 


Sometimes it helps to ask:  What is your heroine good at, and how does that skill help her save the day?   Combine that with:  What can your heroine do at the end of the book that she can’t do at the beginning. 


Now you have the makings of a heroic heroine.


Need help building your characters?  Want feedback on how to use their confidence to create that heroic moment?  Can you think of heroic moments by your favorite heroines?  Go to: www.mybooktherapy.ning.com and join in on the discussion!


Every Voice Counts!


Susie May





I have my reasons…

Part two of of Creating a Heroic Heroine.

Yesterday, we talked about how every heroine needs to have a goal – something tangible and specific that they are shooting for in the story.  A goal is your target, and give you a place to aim for in the story.

But, of course, we can’t let her get there, at least not without a struggle. Which means our heroine also needs a FLAW.

We know women aren’t perfect. But we try, oh, we try. And the key to a great flaw is something that can be overcome – with the help of a good hero. It doesn’t have to be a huge flaw, maybe it’s a tendency to run away from her problems, or better, a tendency to push men out of her life. As she gets to know the hero, he can help her overcome these flaws and grow stronger.

See, a good heroine flaw is based on a heroine’s perceived FEAR. If a woman is afraid of failure in the workplace, she might become driven, impatient, even exacting. If she is afraid of being alone at night, she might become clingy. There is a reason behind a woman’s flaws, and it’s usually a fear.

Which is why Flaws and Fears go together. It can be based on something in the past that happened to them, or it could be something they’ve seen from others, or read, or simply believe about themselves. But women have a great capacity to dream up fears and then let them rule their lives. Yes, they need to be realistic, but reading about a child abduction in the paper is enough to make a woman lock her child in the house until he’s eighteen.  

A great romance has the hero figuring out the woman’s fear – maybe prying it out of her, maybe just knowing her enough to realize the truth. And as he figures it out, he begins to address it. To make her feel safe, or even try and overcome that fear. See, women also want to be protected, even if they don’t admit it. So, as your hero becomes more heroic, the woman will release her fears. 

And overcome her flaws.  

As you’re creating your heroine, ask: What is your biggest flaw. Then ask: Why? What fear drives this flaw?  

It’s this fear that will create sympathy in your reader and perhaps even make her see herself in your heroine. What are your heroine’s flaws…and fears? Go to www.mybooktherapy.ning.com to join in on the discussion. Need help? We’re here for that too! Every Voice Counts!

And – are you interested in a crash course in learning how to write Bestselling Fiction?  Join top Literary Agent Chip MacGregor and Best-selling, RITA Award-winning author Susan May Warren for a weekend of crafting your novel.  Our next seminar is in Atlanta in a couple weeks!  Check out the details at: http://www.themasterseminars.com/

Susie May