My current WIP is one I spent a lot of time on last year. I entered it in quite a few contests, and so it’s first chapter has received a lot of feedback. Though I think I’ve finally tackled the issues with this WIP, it’s still a slow going and difficult process. That feedback keeps floating in the back of my mind making me doubt, question, or play down each scene.
When I got the first newly rewritten chapter back from my CP, I was surprised by her comments which basically stated that from the hero’s POV the heroine seems strong and with it, but from the heroine’s POV she seems like a soft mess (I’m paraphrasing here).
See, this heroine was always supposed to be strong, a little edgy, wild, but I had gotten so much feedback that she could be construed as unlikable in the first chapter, and I was trying so hard to make her a sympathetic character… I turned her into something she’s not. And, I essentially confuse the reader by the hero seeing her one way (the right way) but her acting a completely different way.
I’ve gone on and on about tough heroines in the past, and while I like to think all of my heroines have strength not all of them are tough. I think writing a tough heroine is a real struggle, a balancing act. Just like with an alpha hero, you have to give them a heart, a soft spot under all that armor, but I think it takes a lot of skill to do that and keep the balance.
I guess that’s why I’m letting myself take this WIP a little slower. Balance is something that takes time, the perfect word, the right reactions. It can’t be rushed.
5 thoughts on “Tough Girl Balance”
Really interesting post. I’m working on balance from the other side of spectrum–a weak hero. He’s a bit of a dolt, honestly, in this first draft because he’s stricken with a weak constitution (19th century novel, I should add) and expects to die at any time. I need to tap back into his motivation and edit his affability a little.
I’ve dealt with weak heroes as well. I think you’re right, it’s all about tapping back into their motivation–both hero and heroine–to regain that strength.
I’m reading Beyond Heaving Bossoms, and the chapter I read last night had a part about “alpha heroines.” I agree with what I read.
I think alpha females are tough to write, but they are becoming more common. It’s important for the alpha heroine to be going up against something important enough to warrant her “badassery.” It has to be more than a chip on her shoulder. If she’s roaring through town and snapping at the hero simply because she feels cheated in life, then she’s coming off as just a bitch. But, if the harder edges came out in order to help her protect a friend from domestic abuse or save her family business from a ruthless predator, she seems entitled to the rage and more likeable. Does that make sense?
I’ve never written an alpha heroine, so that’s all speculation, though. 🙂
That’s really interesting, and I definitely think at least somewhat true. I think it’s especially easy for a heroine to come off as bitchy without the “right” motivations. I do think it’s funny that it doesn’t seem like we as readers hold heroes to the same standards we have for the heroines. I know that I like far more heroes I’ve read than heroines. Thanks for sharing that. Definitely gives me more to think about with Callie.
There’s always a double standard. Damn men! They get away with all the fun. 😉