I got you with that headline, didn't I? I was sitting here trying to come up with an interesting blog topic, and great heroines came to mind. What makes us a love - or hate - a heroine in fiction? What makes a Scarlett O'Hara or Josephine March - or a Katniss Everdeen for that matter? And what makes us care about them?
Sure, great heroines are stronger, often wiser and just better than the rest of us. They are heroines, after all. But I believe their flaws, their insecurities, their mistakes are the things that help us to relate to them. Those details show us that beneath their superhero capes, they're just like us. They worry that others are laughing behind their backs. They're unsatisfied with the face that looks back at them in the mirror or the thighs that rub together beneath their skirts, even if someone out there will find them perfect just the way they are.
Let's start with my three examples: Scarlett from Gone With the Wind, Jo from Little Women and Katniss from The Hunger Games. Though all three are strong women, who fight their own battles - one for her home and way of life, another against the limitations placed on women of her day and the the last, for her very life in a cruel game - we can relate to those parts of them that make them human. Scarlett's pettiness. Jo's hot temper. Katniss's lack of sensitivity and reluctance to lead.
In my March Superromance, Falling For the Cop, some of my favorite things about my heroine, Natalie Keaton, are her insecurities and her flaws. The biracial daughter of a single mother, Natalie is uncomfortable with secrets involving her heritage as well as with her body. She is convinced she is too tall and gangly, instead of thinking of herself as willowy, the way her hero will see her. She is closed off and unforgiving and quick to blame all police officers for the mistakes of a few in that high-speed chase that changed her family forever. In other words, she's as complicated and imperfect as the rest of us. Only she gets to meet Trooper Shane Warner. Lucky Natalie!
Yes, besides being some of things I most enjoy writing in my own characters, I believe that character weaknesses and insecurities help us to connect to the protagonists in the stories we love. Their journeys move us, change us. Their attempts to overcome these frailties signal to us that we, too, might vanquish some of our own. That they might convince us that we can escape from a burning Atlanta or lead a rebellion against an oppressive government as well? Those are just bonuses.
So here's the challenge: Name some of your favorite heroines, and share why you feel you relate to them.