Monday, May 9, 2011


One of my writing friends says "How do you create a likeable heroine--one who isn't sickeningly sweet?"

I will confess, I find some of the heroines in Christian fiction "sickeningly sweet" and their so-called problems laughable. In the early days of Christian fiction, this seemed to be the norm and not the exception. Thankfully, that trend has changed.

"But it's still true in romance."

Well--yes. We want a heroine we can root for and romances must end in "happily ever after" or not be a romance.

Well--no. I have written numerous novels for Heartsong Presents. As a Christian romance book club, some of their stories are simple stories well told of a man and a woman falling in love.

Some are much more. I remember one story (to my shame, I don't recall the title or author) that dealt with rape. Another, Dear John, introduced me to author Kim Vogel Sawyer--and a series that dealt with downs syndrome, alcoholism, and ex-cons. My own heroines have run lighthouses, worked in a Romanian orphanage, fought for women's suffrage, among other problems.

Consider the following characters from the secular world: Scarlet O'Hara; Miss Marple; Mary Poppins; Kinsey Millhone; Brenda Leigh Johnson; Ziva David; Alicia Florrick; Mary Richards; Emily Pollifax.

Each of those names conjure up images of unforgettable women. These women have unlikeable qualities. Ziva used to kill people for a living; Scarlet is completely self-centered. They also have weaknesses. Brenda Leigh sneaks chocolate whenever she can.

But they are strong, and we root for them--in spite of their less than sweet personalities.
What makes a heroine likeable? Why do we care about what happens? How about these ideas for starters:

  • She has weaknesses that we can identify with.

  • She faces opposition.

  • She cares for other people.

  • She takes risk to help others.

  • She is strong (different ways for different heroines)

  • She is real--her responses to life ring true

  • She is persistent

  • She's an independent thinker

Who are some of your favorite heroines? What qualities appeal to you?

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