I’ve been reading through the first draft of my second novel, and I’m not happy with my female lead. Since I write romance novels, it makes sense that I would spend a lot of time creating the male lead. He has to be all the things a romance reader expects. But the female . . . well, she’s more complicated. I want her to be strong and independent but not so much so that it renders the male superfluous.
Female leads are especially troublesome in paranormal romances. It’s one thing if they are of the same or a similar supernatural persuasion as the male, but if they are human . . . well, there’s no way to even that playing field, is there? In my novel, my girl is running around with angels and demons. How can she, as a human, possibly keep up?
Right now, I feel like she’s . . . Bella from the Twilight saga. (Oh God! Did I just write that? Spit. Spit. Wretch.)
So, I’ve been thinking back over female leads who stick out in my mind and coming up with a list of qualities that make them strong, at least to me.
I’m about to finish up The Siren by Tiffany Reisz. Her female lead, Nora Sutherlin, is by all accounts a strong female. For one thing, she’s a dominatrix. But that’s not really what makes her strong, not to me. Frankly, anyone can wield a whip and scare the shit out of grown men.
Here’s what qualifies Nora:
- She is completely unflappable. In any given situation, she knows exactly what to do.
- She does whatever (and whoever) she wants.
- She certainly has feelings, but they don’t rule her.
- She is bold much of the time, but she can be nurturing and caring as well.
- She is intimidated by no one, not even the man who was her Dominant for most of her life (and believe me, Soren is terrifying).
To step back in time a bit, let’s look at Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice.
- Somehow (because Jane Austen is a genius) she is refined and elegant yet surly.
- She is deeply loyal to her family.
- She only accepts the status quo when it suits her. When it doesn’t, she rebels. This may not seem like much now, but the book was written in the early nineteenth century when a rebellious nature, especially in a girl, was considered uncouth.
- She spurns Mr. Darcy, irrespective of his wealth and position, until he comes down off his high horse.
This last one is my absolute favorite. Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games trilogy is, for me, the epitome of strength.
- She is loyal to the core – family, friends, her district.
- She is humble.
- She is self-sustaining. The girl can hunt, skin, and cook a rabbit. She fed her family this way.
- She is tough and bold but soft as well, especially where Gale is concerned.
- If everyone in the world but her spontaneously combusted, she would survive in her own personal version of Castaway.
- Her strength is a quiet steel core. She’s only loud or forceful when she needs to be, and she has no clue the strength she possesses.
Can you tell I love her? She fucking rocks!
I don’t want to write the sort of bratty, bitchy female I see in many romance novels, nor do I want Bella (God help me), so I’m thinking I’ll take this here list and see if I can’t lend my girl some power.
Do any of you have a fondness for a particular character? If so, why?