The Characteristics of a Heroine
Hello readers and writers alike. Once again, I welcome you to behind the scenes of the writing world. Many thanks for joining me on this journey through our Soul Mate Publishing blog posting. Today, let’s explore the heroine, her characteristics, her appeal, and what makes her the heroine. It’s not enough for her to appear on the first page introduced as the heroine simply because she is there. More is required—much more.
In order to keep the reader’s interest, the hero must be attracted to the heroine at first glance. Certainly by the second and third go around. What catches the hero’s notice, also grabs the reader’s interest as well? Beauty, at least in the eye of the beholder. If he’s a breast man, she has a very nice rack. If he’s a hip and leg man, she has legs that go on forever. If he’s a face man, she is beautiful with large, lovely eyes, smooth complexion, straight nose, and kissable lips. Pretty hair is truly her crowning glory. Ask a face man and see what he thinks of long, flowing locks, thick, bountiful, and begging for his touch. A man notices lovely hair.
That’s all on the surface. Let’s dig deeper for the true worth of a heroine. She is sensitive, resilient, strong, not necessarily physically, but mentally. Modern-day readers want a lady born in the 1800s to kick-butt in the most Wonder Woman fashion of today. Impossible you say, but let’s look at the opportunities she takes to discreetly do just that while not stepping out of her assigned position in the era in which she lives.
Example: A Lady’s Vanishing Choices
Darkness and eerie silence trapped Bethany. She couldn’t breathe. Water surrounded her, over her, under her, everywhere. Forcing her eyes open turned the nightmare into harsh, deadly reality. I’m going to die.
Where am I? Why am I in the water? For a second, she didn’t know how to escape from the clinging, life-threatening blackness. Think. Fighting to remain calm, she twisted around in the water until she spied light from the moon filtering through the shadowy depths of the lake. Bethany kicked toward the surface. Struggling to swim, she raised one arm over the other and kicked with all of her might. She swallowed a mouthful of water when her head broke the surface of the lake.
Quickly searching her surroundings, she shivered in the chilled night breeze. Her drenched hair clung to her neck and goose bumps raced along her skin. She glanced around and could detect the shoreline only four or five feet away. Fighting to keep afloat, she struggled toward the bank as best she could. Her pulse pounded, and she couldn’t fully catch her breath. Weak and almost helpless, fear overwhelmed her, but she forced herself onward. Nothing made any sense. The murky smell of mud at the edge of the water drew her towards the embankment.
She sputtered and tried to still her cough. Staggering to the edge of where the deep water gave way to a shallow, sandy bottom, she fought to remain upright. Bethany covered her mouth to quiet the sound of her breathing, to listen, to search for the menacing presence of whatever threatened her. Frozen in terror, with the sensation of evil lurking in the shadows, she shivered.
The pounding of hooves on the turf broke the spell, and she gazed toward the shore. The shape of a huge black horse and rider drew closer, coming to an abrupt halt at the edge of the water.
“What the devil?” Royce swung down and stalked over to the edge. “Come out of there.”
Exhausted and cold to the bone, she couldn’t move. In spite of her efforts, she couldn’t keep her teeth from chattering or say a word. Her wet garments clung to every curve with chilling tenacity, but she hardly noticed. I’m safe. I’m safe. Royce is here. I’m fine now. Safe.
“Bethany.” Royce said in a startled voice.
The distant sound of a softly shutting door, footfalls, and the faint stirrings of the household rousing for the day pulled Bethany from a deep sleep. Tempted to cuddle down once more in the warmth of the bed, she opened her eyes and gazed at the ceiling. The smells of preparations for the early morning meal wafted to the upper levels of the house. Her stomach rumbled in answer.
Only then did the happenings of last night hit her. She sat bolt upright in the bed, glancing at the unfamiliar chamber. The walls, covered in ivory wallpaper, added light to the room where rather heavy oak furniture over-filled the space. I’m not at the manor. I’m at the hall.
She grimaced and threw back the covers. Her heart tripped, and she drew a shaky breath. Nearly drowning must have addled her brain. Someone wanted to kill her. She covered her mouth with her fingers, and her heart stroked even harder. It must be someone with access to the manor.
Someone she knew. Panic grabbed her, but she forced the sensation away. She must think. Royce didn’t believe her—the clod. She straightened her fingers to avoid her nails biting into her palms. She never wanted to witness that sarcastic smirk on his face again. For several minutes, she twisted a lock of her hair around her fingers.
A light scratch sounded at the door. She cleared her throat and called, “Come.”
A young maid carried a tray containing a chocolate pot and a lovely cup decorated with roses. “Morning, Ma’am. Tis a lovely day.” She smiled and placed the tray on the table beside the bed before pulling the drapes aside. “I was in here earlier, but you was dead to the world. I brought fresh clothing just as Mrs. Carrington told me. Here on the chair.” She raised her brows. “I’m here to help you with your morning toilette.”
Bethany scrambled out of bed and plucked the garments up to inspect the gown. “If you will be so kind, I shall need help with the ties.”
She allowed the maid to lace the bodice before she smoothed the skirts and adjusted the sleeves. “There. That will be all. Thank you for your assistance.” Before the maid could leave, Bethany whirled around. “Is Mrs. Carrington available this morning?”
“She’s been away. When she arrived this morning, she went straight to her chamber.
She hardly ever is below stairs until well after eleven o’clock.”
“After she stirs, I have a message I wish delivered to her.” Bethany penned a quick note and folded it. “Make certain she receives this the moment she’s about.”
The maid curtsied, took the paper with a smile, and left the chamber.
Bethany poured a cup of the hot liquid, sipping at her chocolate while she sank into a chair. Taking up the thread of her thoughts again, she considered her next course of action. She must return to the manor this morning. She swallowed. At least, I’m aware the killer is after me. I must search him out before he does away with me. Shivering with a chill of foreboding, she set her chocolate aside. When she could identify him, she would make Royce listen to her. He’d believe her if she had a face to add to the tale. She quietly tiptoed down the back stairs and ducked out the rear door.
She certainly decided to take matters into her own hands. Kick-butt all the way. I’d say she went against Royce’s instructions and opinions full force. When he ask her why, she spread her hands and told him she couldn’t remain in a bachelor establishment—now could she? That’s taking charge without being in the wrong. What could he say? The Ton would certainly more than frown on such a situation. She used the tools allotted to her in the era in which she lived.
Meeting the requirements of a heroine, she processed beauty of face and form, sensitive to her surroundings, dealing with someone wishing to do her harm. She had to face being investigated as a traitor as well. All her dealings with life in general needed strength of character and wit to overcome her situation. A true heroine in my humble opinion.
Few women of today could live up to such high standards. But we can all dream and live vicariously through books.
Example: An Enduring Love
I don’t have the allowance for enough wordage to display another excerpt. I thought an explanation would do for another of my heroines.
Rebecca, half Latvian-half English, married an English diplomat while he worked in Latvia. He had to return to England to attend his father’s death-bed. She could not accompany him because her widowed mother was ill.
He was informed his wife had died. He wasn’t allowed back into Latvia. His superior in London wouldn’t allow him to leave England. His superior did visit Rebecca’s grave and reported back to Royce. He grieved, but after three years, he buried the wound in his heart, buried the memories of his love for her, and moved on with his life.
Rebecca arrived in London, their son in tow along with a young servant girl. What was she to do? Should she have slapped him in the face and departed with their child? She was a stranger in a foreign land with no place to go, little likely hood of getting a job as a nanny, a housekeeper, or any respectable position either. She did the only thing left to her. She decided to rekindle his love for her with her own deep, enduring love.
All of my books—historical romances—contain suspense, mystery, and often murder along with deep emotions between the hero and heroine, not hot, hot, hot physically, but with emotional heat instead of graphic details of parts joining. Don’t get me wrong, there are love scenes in bed and out.
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