Today, I want to talk about the heroine’s warts. Well, really, what we have to consider are the heroine’s imperfections. One of my favorite romance authors always gives her heroine’s some real warts (imperfections). One of the first books of hers I read, the heroine was deaf and dumb. I loved that book. I laughed at some of the antics of the heroine as she tried to figure out what the other characters were trying to get her to understand. And I cried too, because her situation – not being able to express herself or to understand some important truths – were real imperfections. This particular author often give the heroine a very real problem in the form of a disability.
Of course the imperfection doesn’t have to be physical. It can be emotional or psychological. It can be social. But whatever you decide, your heroine has to have an imperfection, stringy, mousey brown hair that bothers her because she never can do anything with it. That matters to her because she wants to be a chef and hair in her face or falling into food is a real turn-off. She can have a mother who hates her and tells her how stupid she is, or a father who is the village drunk and embarrasses her at the places she tries to work. There can be a thousand things you can come up with, that the poor heroine must contend with, that will influence how she feels about herself and how she reacts to others, especially the hero and the villain.
So now we have an imperfect heroine. But she must also have qualities that make her worthy of being a heroine. What if others consider her a spoiled little rich girl, but she is an talented artist, paints under a different name and gives all the profits away to an art school for underprivileged kids. Or, take the heroine from above with the drunk father. What if she volunteers to help in a rehab center for recovering alcoholics. Or the heroine with the problem hair, who designs wigs for breast cancer survivors. If you’re going to write a memorable heroine, you need for her to have imperfections, but she has to be a little bit better than the average person. She has to heroine material. And she can become that heroine during the story you write. How she becomes a heroine can be part of the story. She can grow into the kind of person you can admire and your readers will love. Those readers will be anxious to see what kind of problems your next book will contain and how the heroine grows as the story grows. Because those imperfections make her real. She has problems just like the rest of us.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the imperfections (warts) of the hero. And next we’ll tackle the villain. You need to know I love to write villains.
So until tomorrow.