Day 18753 of reading the Outlander series; I am on page 567 of book #4, still 12,698 pages to go. But I’m still hooked, and not just because of the hero, but because of the storyworld, the writing, and the heroine, who continues to intrigue me as carves out a life in the past, in an untamed world, so different from the one she left.
I keep asking myself. . .would I give up modern medicine, hot water, electricity and my cell phone to follow the man I love into poverty and near-death adventures?
Okay, maybe. If he was wearing a kilt. But Claire is an intriguing heroine, one I’m still trying to unpack, four books into the series.
Truth be told, I used to hate romances. Why? Because I didn’t respect a woman who had to have a man save her. But I did respect a woman who allowed a man into her life to make her better, stronger, more noble, more complete. This is Claire – she needs Jamie, but she saves him just as often as he saves her.
So, what makes a fantastic heroine?
Goals – Give your heroine a measurable goal. Both your hero and heroine need to have a goal, but it’s essential for your heroine. She needs to be proactive, to fight for something she believes in.
Claire is a modern day woman living in an old-fashioned world, something that gets her into trouble repeatedly. Until book #4, Claire’s goals were clear – get back to Frank, then save Jamie, then stop Jamie and his kinsmen from getting killed, then get BACK to Jamie (after being separated from him). Now, in book #4, her goal is to keep Jamie alive (because, being a time-traveler, she saw his death and hopes to change it).
These are all goals we can get on board with and fight the fight with her. Making her proactive and strong makes her noble—and someone worth spending time with.
Competence – Give her a skill, something she does well (and make her confident about this skill!) Claire is a healer, (a surgeon back in the present), and this skill is used to save herself (and jamie) even though it lands her likewise in trouble. Use this competence/confidence as a character strength, but also a source of conflict for your heroine.
Flaw – Your heroine needs one realistic flaw, one that she can start to overcome because of the hero. It’s easy for a heroine to have flaws—mostly because we write about ourselves, and we all have flaws. But don’t give her too many! Claire’s flaw is that she is headstrong (of course, because she is from our time). The more she learns to trust Jamie, and the more she realizes this is a different world, the more she begins to soften.
Fear – Give her a fear, something realistic and based on something in her past, or a realistic fear of the future. Don’t make it about “being single.” And make her fear deep, something the hero has to figure out, even pry out of her.
Claire’s realistic fear is that Jamie will die and leave her stranded, alone, in the past. She’s seen his grave, after all, and she knows she can’t go back to the present without dying. A great fear isn’t just conjured up – it has a strong basis for belief; strong enough that the reader relates and fears the same thing. Every time Jamie goes out for a hunt I am desperately hoping he returns and doesn’t leave Claire and I stranded in the one-room cabin in the wilderness.
Beauty – Give her a special kind of beauty, both inner and outer, that only the hero can see/love. Something special, that’s 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.
Jamie loves Claire not for her beauty, (but yes, there’s that), but her strength and courage.
How to give your Heroine a Makeover:
- Goal – What does your heroine believe in? What is she fighting for?
- Confidence – What is your heroine good at? Give us a reason to applaud your heroine. (Think life skills, career, even spiritual gifts.)
- Fear – If you asked your heroine “What are you afraid of?” what would she say? Think about that dark moment in your heroine’s past—did that create a fear in her life that carried over to today?
- Flaw – Your heroine is less than perfect. What’s your heroine’s flaw? Ask: What do you do when life gets tough?
- Beauty – What unique trait makes her beautiful?
Have a great writing week.
Go! Write Something Brilliant!