About Me

My photo
working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Perfect heroines

I am bemused these days about the craving for heroines who have no flaws. I was brought up in the era where heros and heroines started out one way and ended up another after grueling physical and emotional trials. It seems that nowadays many readers want their heros to arrive full-blown perfect and kick ass and take names. And not only that, they also have to be slim, beautiful with flawless skin etc etc...

My heroines are flawed. They can be selfish, stupid and really annoying. and yet they move through the narrative looking at themselves critically and finding better ways to relate. In other words they change in the course of the story. What would be the point of  having them start out as all powerful? And why would I want to read about an all powerful heroine who is a cardboard cut-out? The answer is, I don't, but apparently a lot of people do! http://tracycooperposey.com/so-where-are-the-thick-romance-heroines/

Is it the era will live in now that readers look for this in their books? Even a friend of mine, an older woman, admitted that she couldn't relate to one of my protagonists because she wasn't young and/or able to walk through her life without bumbling. And this heroine is older, not thin, with many problems.  I guess I can understand it in YA books, because the kids reading them need someone to look up to, but even in that case wouldn't it be better to have a vulnerable heroine who is more like the reader and ends up winning in the end? If a heroine (or hero) is too perfect how can we ever aspire to that? Because to my mind fiction is where we find out about ourselves and learn how we want to be in the world. My question is, how have we gotten here? http://www.ghfirebirds.com/in-praise-of-difficult-heroines/

We live in a world of chaos now, bombarded with stimuli from dawn to dusk and even beyond if we live in a city and hear sirens and traffic etc...Many of us feel vulnerable, lost and afraid, unsure where we are going in a world that doesn't have time for our concerns. Cell phones and other electronic devices keep us isolated. Hours spent on the computer where we think we're talking with 'friends' by posting give us a false sense of community. It's a made-up world of no substance. It makes sense that we want assurance in what we read. I understand.

But again, my contention is that if we don't have flawed heros who rise up and confront their problems, fate and destiny, we will not understand how to do that ourselves. And of course, as a writer I find this trend frustrating. I won't change my writing to accommodate this--I simply can't. I only hope for readers who appreciate someone who is less than perfect but also able to overcome their difficulties.

Thanks for reading and any and all comments are very welcome!


  1. My favourite female anti hero or heroine depending on view point, is Becky Sharpe in Thackeray's Vanity Fair. She was brilliantly portrayed many years ago by a young Imelda Staunton in a BBC series. Decidedly wicked and foxy :)

    1. thanks for commenting, Mike. I haven't read Vanity Fair, or if I have it was too many years ago to remember! Maybe it requires another visit :)