As my reading ennui has stretched over the last few weeks, I finally pinned down the thing that’s turned me off of nearly all the books I’ve picked up lately. Every single one of them had a heroine who started out in some way weak and would (in theory anyway) have to learn to find their inner strength to overcome whatever obstacles thrown their way. It’s not that this kind of story can’t be done well–certainly it can and it has been–but frankly, this set up bores me. I am tired of weak women having to find their strength.
Why is that?
Well, partly, it’s because I’m not weak. I never have been (unless it comes to the will power to resist my favorite diet busting treats :cough: cookie dough :cough:). I’ve got a very strong and, admittedly, sometimes abrasive personality (such that a college friend once nicknamed me Whiskey). I’m generally very decisive (for better or worse). I am a woman of action. Due to some personal circumstances that there’s no need to detail here, I grew up with a pretty strong derision for weak women. Unfair maybe, but there you have it. Doesn’t make them or me a bad person. It just means that I have a hard time seeing things from their perspective. So I think my irritation with these weak heroines who have to come into their own is that I just flat can’t relate to them. It’s that ability to relate to a character that will get me over any deficiencies in how she’s written, and unless that particular archetype is really well done, I spend the entire book rolling my eyes wondering when she’s going to grow a spine, get off her ass, stop waffling, stop letting the hero/antagonist/whoever push her around and take charge of her life.
Did I mention I make a great tough love therapist?
I prefer strong women as my heroines. Apart from the fact that I can relate to them better, I think there’s a lot more you can to with a strong heroine psychologically. You take a decisive heroine and have her make a decision that blows up in her face. How’s she react to that? Does she question her judgment? Does she regret not taking more time to think? Maybe she’s stubborn and simply can’t take help from anyone. So set her up for some kind of situation where she’s forced to and dig deeper to find out where that independent streak came from. I’m a huge fan of stories where the heroine can rescue herself (Ever After, anyone?), which shows since I do exactly that in my current WIP. I want my heroines to be absolute equals to their kick ass male counterparts. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t want my heroes to stop trying to take care of them (I do love that about Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood), but I prefer dependence to be on a different kind of level. And frankly, I think it means a lot more when a strong woman surrenders–emotionally, sexually, spiritually–because it’s a hell of a lot harder to do that when you’re accustomed to depending on no one but yourself.
And this preference absolutely shows in the heroines that I write. In Hunted in Shadow, Marley goes on her own to investigate her best friend’s disappearance. In Til Death, Marin takes on renovation of an antebellum mansion into a B and B on her own. In the book formerly known as House of Cards (someday I will come up with a proper title), Kensie is on a one woman crusade to find the person who killed her husband. In the novella I planned out, my heroine Embry takes action to rescue her father when the organization that she works for fully intends to abandon him as lost on his mission. As I sit here and look back on all the assorted heroines from everything I remember writing, there’s not a single weak one in the bunch. Perhaps someday I will try stretching my writing chops and see if I can’t write a heroine who has to come into her own strength, but I don’t see that happening anytime in the near future.
Anyway, I seem to have finally busted out of my reading funk by picking up Timeless Moon by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp. Josette is interesting! Not to mention the fact that neither she, nor any of the other characters, nor the writing itself have made me balk in 75 pages. Naturally this turned out to be book 6 in the series. WHY they can’t print that somewhere on the book itself like they do in the nifty little Amazon listing, I’m sure I don’t know. Yes you can check the inside of the cover to see other books listed, but that really doesn’t tell you if it’s a series or if they are just stand-alones written before. But I think I’m interested enough to go back and start at the beginning.
Who’s your favorite kick ass heroine? Recommendations?