Top Ten Traits of a Good Heroine
First, thanks to I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read for inviting me and suggesting such an engaging topic.
My debut novel Dark Parties is a story of rebellion and forbidden love with a strong female hero at its heart. I wanted to develop a main character inspired by the type of protagonist that appealed to me – from Scout Finch in To Kill A Mocking Bird to Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games. As a reader, I need to identify with and cheer for the main character, but I also need a heroine that keeps me guessing.
I tried in one way or another to incorporate the following traits into my main character Neva.
1. Flawed – I’m not interested in perfection. Perfect is boring. I want to write and read about characters who are perfectly imperfect. I tried to craft every character in Dark Parties with a light and dark side.
2. Feisty – I want someone with a fire and a passion. Someone who stands up for what they believe in – and sometimes has to break the rules to do it.
3. Smart – I want someone I can admire intellectually. They don’t have to be Einstein but I want them to solve the puzzles before I do and think of solutions that never would have occurred to me.
4. Motivated – I want them to get up off the couch, step away from the computer and get their hands dirty.
5. Heart – Ideally I want a main character whose motives are honorable – whether it be looking for love, solving a mystery, questing for treasure or bringing down an evil empire.
6. Leader – I often like a reluctant leader, but a leader nonetheless. I quite like someone who believes she is ordinary but is pushed to the extraordinary.
7. Impulsive – I know I said I want them to think, but it’s no fun if they do the smart, thoughtful thing every single time.
8. Loyal – Most heroes have a sidekick and a love interest. I demand loyalty. Yes, there may be blips of betrayal but in the end my heroes will return to what’s important and possibly sacrifice themselves for the ones they love.
9. Quirky – I love a character that’s not a cardboard cut-out from the hero handbook. I want the writer to introduce something fresh and interesting. Give ‘em a quirk that turns out to be important to the story and you’ve hooked me!
10. Relentless – I want a character who gets knocked down but gets back up again and again and again.
And, finally, I prefer a female lead. Many children’s book editors encourage writers to develop male protagonists so their books can appeal to both boy and girl readers. I even had one editor tell me that readers wouldn’t be interested in a kick-ass female hero. (This was before Hunger Games showed us that strong, fiery female characters can have mass appeal.) Females are the perfect protagonist in a story of rebellion – and I think we need to provide more literary role models that demonstrate how woman can change the world.
What traits have I missed? What attracts you to a main character and keeps you thinking about them long after you’ve finished the book?
Thanks for stopping by Sara!
Sixteen-year-old Neva was born and raised in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. Hundreds of years ago, her country constructed an electrified dome to protect itself from the outside world. What once might have protected, now imprisons. Her country is decaying and its citizens are dying.
Neva and her friends dream of freedom.
A forbidden party leads to complications. Suddenly Neva’s falling for her best friend's boyfriend, uncovering secrets that threaten to destroy her friends, her family and her country -- and discovering the horrifying truth about what happens to The Missing. . .
Sara is senior commissioning editor for Working Partners, a London-based company creating series fiction for children. She has worked on ten different series and edited more than 75 books.
Dark Parties is her first young adult novel. Email | Twitter | Website
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