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Monday, March 26, 2012

ALL IT TAKES IS A GOOD WOMAN - AKA THE HEROINE



Hell everyone.
Well y'all know I write romance and I have to admit sometimes I get my best ideas when I’m in bed – and no, it's not what your minds think! The other day I was to do a guest blog post here and was in a conundrum what to write. There I was sitting in bed at an ungodly hour (it was still pitch black outside and way to early to consider getting up). I was having my own private pity party about what to blog about when lo and behold an idea about the perfect man (aka the hero) sprang to mind. The words flew from my fingers to the page – I had plenty to say on what made a man perfect. But to cut a long story short. Same scenario, laptop, bed, dark outside, and a blog post to write. Determined not to be considered sexist (does the Y generation even know that word?) I thought it only fair that I even the score and write about the perfect woman.

Well what else is there to say – we are perfect LOL. But seriously, let’s get down to it. What makes the perfect heroine?

More years ago than I care to remember when I first began reading category romance the women on the page were often way younger than the hero simpering, and certainly not career women. They kinda molded to the Alpha male's dominance, though they did get their man in the end. I remember one book, the hero was a doctor – though it wasn't a medical romance and he was the heroine's guardian. I mean she had to only be 18 or 20. The hero was at least in mid 30s. Now today that would not hold up on the page. Firstly she's waaaay to young for him in fact it gives me the eeew factor, kind of stealing the baby from the cradle. (and mum yes I know if you’re reading this you were 12 years young than dad!) It felt as if she had just come out of school. Then to me even reading it years ago, she was 'mousey', didn’t really stand up for herself.

Let's skip pulling the poor girl apart and head onto today's woman. What makes her heroic on the page? She needs oomph, a bit of spark and able to stand up to her man, haul him in and make him tow the line. To do that she needs experience, so we no longer necessarily have the ingénue on the page, or the virgin because we readers (and writers) want to make it real. And because our heroines are no longer barely out of their teens (except of course in YA) these women are more experienced and I don't know many 30 year old virgins. So the advice here is for writers to make their heroines real.

There is of course famed author Barbara Cartland's Regency heroines. While some say they were a bit wimpy, I think probably they were quite strong and amazingly able to go after their men in a world that was definitely belonging to the men. They didn't worry about society's rules but went after their man, knowing he was the hero for them. There is a certain strength of character in such conduct for those times.

Back to today's heroine. As an older woman she's more likely to have a career. She's the one making her mark on the world, holding her head up high and equaling whatever the guys can do. Okay so she may have her back up against the wall in the beginning but she's coming out kicking and so we will let her get away with making a mistake or two – remember she's human.

We need to make her more than one-dimensional. She can be sassy and have good come-back dialogue. One of my favorite heroines I’ve written is Angel from TO KISS AN ANGEL. She's come from heaven, is funny, quirky and determined to get her man and to teach him a lesson. I really loved writing her. I mean how many heroines get to talk to the Boss Angel and nickname God the Big Bopper?
Another heroine who I loved writing and readers loved was Tyler Sullivan from HE'S THE ONE. She IS a virgin and determined not to be. It takes guts to go and ask a guy if he's willing to make a deal such a deal.

Today's heroine IS smart, and in fact she isn't perfect. She doesn't necessarily have to be ten foot tall and have the figure of Posh Beckham. It's her inner strength that makes her our perfect heroine. It’s the ability to realise that the man she loves is redeemable and she's going to make darn sure he figures it out, or else. It's the fact that our heroine doesn't give up no matter what disasters strike, that she somehow finds the inner strength to keep going or at least find a way out through the mire that has beset her. In fact when we make our heroines real, what we’re really doing is making our heroine ourselves. Because we the writers are real, we have been through that mire whatever it may be and we've used our life experiences to write those words on the page and make that woman strong and independent and look out world here she (we) come.

So go us, go and our heroines and watch out heroes, because we're coming to get ya!

And just to tease you, here’s an excerpt from TO KISS AN ANGEL.


A blast of horn, the screech of brakes and the acrid smell of rubber laying a path on the asphalt wrenched Angel back to reality.
Earth could be deadly.
Too late.
She fell backwards. Hard! Her head slammed against the pavement.
Dear God, was her life repeating itself? She cast a pleading glance skyward, praying Beatrice and just maybe the Big Bopper had their eyes on her. She hoped so.
She tried to move. She couldn’t. Something heavy was holding her down. Something warm, heavy...and breathing.
She twisted her head, only to come eyeball to eyeball with chocolate brown eyes. They reminded her of Hershey’s chocolate. Dark. Rich. And very tempting.
She liked chocolate.
“You okay?”
The heavy breathing lump shifted, but not before she realized it was a man. A cute, eye candy kinda man.
Earth was looking up a tad and suddenly this job had taken on a degree of enjoyment. Watching eye candy had definite benefits for an angel’s equilibrium.
“Angel, you’ve got a job to do, quit drooling,” Beatrice’s sharp tone cut into Angel’s thoughts.
Darn it. For a moment she had forgotten her boss was of the all seeing and all hearing kind. Her gaze swiveled left and right checking Beatrice wasn’t actually physically in the vicinity. Seeing and hearing albeit from the distance of cloud headquarters was quite enough thank you.
”Okay, okay, keep your wings on,” she grumbled, struggling to sit up, only to fall back to the hard asphalt at her back.
“Pardon?”
Whoa. Deep and throaty. Sexy. Angel’s eyes flicked open. Suddenly the headache that had been threatening, the hunger gnawing at her innards, had evaporated. This cutie pie was far more enticing. She pasted a smile on her face, though her body hummed and her head seemed to be swimming with the sharks. But heck, her eyesight was 20/20.
She heard the distinct tap, tap of Beatrice’s toe tapping and the frantic beat of the woman’s wings. But none of that mattered. Oh, no. Only the vision divine in front of her.
“Angel!”
Beatrice’s chastisement reached her in a soft whisper. Angel’s lips pursed. “Go away.”
“Can I help you up? Sorry I landed on you.”
“I’m not.”
“Pardon?”
“Um...I mean use me for a landing mat any time.”
“Are you okay?”
Those sharks began biting at her brain cells and her vision blurred. She swayed.
Strong arms snaked around her waist, guiding her to a half concrete wall at the side of the pavement. “Here. Sit down.”
She must remember to pass out more often if it meant hunks would come to her rescue.
“A regular knight in shining armor,” she said, trying to feign fluttering eyelashes at the guy.
And still dark eyes stared down at her, brows creased with concern. “Yeah well, I’ll try not to land on you next time.”
“There’s going to be a next time?”
“No...I mean...”
“I don’t mind. Really I don’t. If you want to tackle me to the ground go right ahead. Are you a footballer?”
“No.”
“An athlete?”
He shook his head.
“Hell!”
“459!”
“Okay, okay,” she whispered skyward.
“Okay what?” Mr. Sexy-eyes questioned. His voice definitely matched his eyes. Sexy. Warm and smooth as velvet.
Darn. She must remember not to speak aloud, at least not to AB. More than likely she’d be committed to the funny farm if she carried on like that.
Someone passed her a paper cup of water, but as she took it, her hand shook and the water spilt across her newly acquired designer outfit. “Oh no.” Angel’s gaze lowered to the spreading water on her cute skirt.
Her cute skirt with a tear in it, plus her heels, the ones she had found out were Manolo’s, were now Manolo’s minus a heel.
“You’re not going to faint on me are you?” Her hunk took the cup from her fingers and held it to her lips.
Angel took a quick peek at him. He sure did concern well, plus the hunk factor had to be considered a major ten out of ten.
Her gaze, in all its fuzzy glory slid from his beautiful head and chocolate eyes down...and then right back up. If he asked, she could always say it was because she was dizzy.
But she’d been wrong giving him a ten. The man was definitely an eleven plus.
She took her opportunity and rested a still shaking hand on his as he held the cup for her. There was a zing, and a definite tingle from him right through to her.
Beatrice’s warning came instantly. “Concentrate 459.”
How the he...heck could she do that? She’d been nearly killed. Again. Plus squashed by someone who really should be playing quarterback. Angel blinked several times, trying to gather her wits, though not quite sure if they still were where they should be. Her brain wouldn’t work. All shook up. “Oh, jeez, I’m sounding like an Elvis advert now.”
“Elvis?”
She shook her head. Silly move. Pain pinged every square inch of it. She squeezed her eyes shut.
“Nope,” she said, relishing the darkness for a moment, “he’s definitely left the building; actually he lives on cloud 27.3, not far from the Big Bopper. Did you know that he’s one of BB’s favorites?”
Suddenly, Angel realized everyone around her had silenced. She opened her eyes slowly. They all stared, that wide eyed, what have we got here kinda stare. The...oh, she’s nuts stare.


TO KISS AN ANGEL



Happy reading.
Jane Beckenham

6 comments:

Tina Donahue said...

I agree - today's heroine has to be smart, a bit feisty, she knows what she wants and she's not afraid to go after it. The heroines I've loved the most are the ones who aren't perfect, they're real.

Great post and excerpt, Jane. :)

Harlie Reader said...

Great post Jane. What gets me is sometimes there are still the Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) heroines. Ooooo, that gets me every time.

Marika

Fiona McGier said...

I like to write alpha females. I don't want to read about TSTL or inexperienced heroines. So I guess I have no interest in that 50 Shades of Grey kerfuffle. Actually, since that was fan-fiction of Twilight and I thought the first book was so boring I didn't finish it, I won't be looking to read anything based on that!

JaneB said...

Thanks Tina. I too really like heroines who are feisty, who aren't afraid to stand up for what they want.

Jane

JaneB said...

Harlie, those gals are changing slowly - hopefully
Thanks for stopping by.
Jane

JaneB said...

Fiona, interesteing what you say about the inexperienced heroine. One of my best sellers - He's the One, the heroine was actually a virgin - but she decided it wasn't good business sense to be one (she's a wedding planner), but not wanting commitment she decides to take matters into her own hands - so to speak. Taylor is one feisty lady, mind you Cade the hero is to die for LOL
jane