|Robert Anning Bell [Public domain], |
via Wikimedia Commons
La Belle Dame Sans Merci, but
she'd better have other qualities
or we shall not call her Our Heroine.
Here is our list of what makes a good Romantic Heroine.
1. She must have some wit.
Dull chicks need not apply. For me, the more appealing Romantic Heroines must have two brain cells to rub together, and sometime over the course of the book, she needs to use her wits to solve a problem without relying on the Hero. (Echoes of the Bechdel Test.) I like 'em smart.
2. She must be open to the concept of love.
That's the whole idea behind a good romance novel: that love can happen. Conflict will happen between Our Heroine and Our Hero. Only boring novels have no conflict. But she must be open to the idea of love. Otherwise, I have a hard time believing that she's deciding to love, and not being coerced into it.
3. She must have some depth of character.
If I met her in real life, sans boyfriend/husband, would I find her interesting? I hope so. I've read romance novels (albeit during the 1980's) where the heroine was some fiery-tempered chit who's turned by some shirtless beefcake hero into having sex. Suddenly she's in love. Lame! I found it hard to suspend my disbelief for something of this type. When a character--any character--reacts to the world in a certain way, it's due to their personality and their life experiences. The aforementioned chit? What got her ire up so much? I doubt a tumble with a well-endowed man (*especially* if she's a virgin) is going to smooth her ruffled feathers after a single night of passion. Yet I've seen books where that happens. I hope 21st Century Romance literature has evolved beyond that.
|Punch, or the London Charivari, |
got her number. We ain't fooled.
Volume 159, December 1, 1920
Bitches are disagreeable. They rub people the wrong way. Sure, the heroine can rub the hero the wrong way, and they get into arguments, and that can be an element of tension in a plot. But she can't rub you the reader the wrong way. You want her to have spirit. But leave the bitchiness on the cutting room floor.
5. She doesn't have to be beautiful.
I prefer that she's not beautiful, but that's just me. She needs some distinguishing features, and the hero's got to have some sort of attraction to her. Character is far more important than Just Another Supermodel.
Anything else you'd like to add? What's important to you when it comes to Romantic Heroines?