Saturday Ramble… Strong Heroines

Last night, before Gerard and his lovely buddies scrambled the brain, my sister, Jana, and I shared some Merlot and talked books.

She is verra hard to please.  She misses the older style romances with the strong alpha heroes and the heroines who show more strength of character than physical.  One of her favorite books is Loving Evangeline, if that tells you anything. 

I’m a Linda Howard fan –man, some of her books have been read so many times, they’re falling apart… and I’ve actually bought four copies of Dream Man… and yes, in Dream Man, the hero was a bit manipulative and stubborn, yet she pulled it off.

But there were a few LH books, I didn’t enjoy so much.  I can barely remember LE–all I remember is feeling the hero was overly cruel.  Am I remembering the wrong book here? 

Thing is, I like the strong alpha male, but I suppose I’m too independent to put up with some kinds of gnarly cave man crap.  

Okay yeah, there are situations where that cave man stuff is fun.  I can admit it…. 😉

But even in my fantasy, if any character, male or female, starts forcefully –I’m talking in cruel fashion here–manipulating someone to their will, well, that book is not going to find its happy place on my keeper shelf.  Not if it’s someone they’re supposed to care about.

Now, some are going to bring up this post when I publish book three in this series I’m writing.  (Note that positive use of when.)  My hero goes through some rough stuff in book two and he’s absorbed some bad, bad juju.  In the third book, he’s going to be an ass. You’ll have to wait to read it to find out what my heroine does about it, though. <wg> 

I suppose what I’m trying to say in my Saturday rambling way is that there is a delicate balance to writing a character who shows both physical and character strength.  If you aren’t careful, you could end up exaggerating one of their qualities and they come off too comic book.  

My heroine is physically strong, but she’s still just learning her capabilities and will continue to do so throughout all the books.  There are times when she accidentally discovers a strength and uses it to her advantage and there are times when she isn’t prepared and she gets her ass kicked. To me, this doesn’t take from her character–to me, this grows it.  She can learn from a mistake and know what to do next time. 

I plan to watch her shift and grow and flow into something damned special over the course of the series. (Okay, I hope you all get to do that with me…)

And no, she will not start forming triumvirate after triumvirate… nor get sucked into a constant, draining battle with her arduer…

Not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing. heh heh

As you can probably guess, my sister and I have a lot of Anita Blake conversations. <g>


(BTW, still think this actress could swing AB)

The sis discovered the first Anita Blake book after six or so had come out.  She devoured them all in one weekend.  Man, she drove me nuts with the vampire or werewolf choice.  She was all Jean-Claude and I thought Richard started out pretty hot.  (Note the ‘started’ reference.) She quit reading when Anita said she needed a wife. 

Me?  I’m not sure I’d object to two gorgeous men seeing to my every need.  But I look at the world in measurements of writing time and wow, that would sure open up those moments, eh?  (After all that other fun, of course.)

But here is where we cross another line.  Romance vs. Urban Fantasy. 

I’m not sure my sister will like my new books. (And isn’t it sad that I haven’t given her a copy???)  I moved quite heavily into the UF genre.  To me, there’s more room to wriggle.   I have strong romance in the stories, but it’s now a secondary plot.  Yeah, it will probably be first in book three…

Tangent much, Rinda?


Believe me, I submitted all those romances I wrote and each and every time, the editor said “Good, but your heroine is too strong–ruins the romantic fantasy.” 

My OKRWA buddies say I was writing today’s heroine too early. <g> 

So, what are your thoughts on reaching that balance in your characters?  What kind of trait puts you off?  And will you change your opinion if that character has a legitimate reason for his or her behavior?


About Rinda Elliott

Writer.I love unusual stories and credit growing up in a family of curious life-lovers who moved all over the country. Books and movies full of fantasy, science fiction and romance kept us amused, especially in some of the stranger places. For years, I tried to separate my darker side with my humorous and romantic one. I published short fiction, but things really started happening when I gave in and mixed it up. When not lost in fiction, I love making wine, collecting music, gaming and spending time with my husband and two children. I’m represented by Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Agency.
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4 Responses to Saturday Ramble… Strong Heroines

  1. Anita said she needed a wife…

    I quit reading at Blue Moon, but OMG, I had not heard that one. 😮 (My husband has ready every AB book and is waiting not so patiently for the next one.)

    I’m proud of you for writing the heroine you wanted to write. Especially after receiving rejections like those. I can’t wait to see you published. 🙂

  2. What a great post, Rinda. You’ve really got me thinking about the main character in *my* book, so thanks for getting my brain working! 🙂

    I may write something about this on my shiny new blog… (I’ll link to this post, of course!).


  3. relliott4 says:

    It is a delicate balance, isn’t it, Karen? I’ve had this conversation with other writers and some have said that if you write a strong heroine, the hero needs to be weaker to balance.

    I just don’t get that. A strong woman would only be attracted to a strong man, IMO. But then, there are different meanings to strength–even in a man.

    I could have done about ten posts about this. Can you tell? 😉

  4. Carol says:

    Manipulative men drive me nuts. I’m way too independant. I love a strong heroine. Now, for example, Rhett Butler wanted nothing but to take care of Scarlett but she was too busy manipulating everyone else to let him. She was strong, but in the wrong way. Rhett had every reason to treat her the way he did. It’s arrogance for the sake of arrogance that I cannot stand. If there’s a true, believeable motive, maybe, but I’d better be damn convinced if he’s going to act like an ass, or she for that matter. Carol

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