Writing for Comics

Characters – Heroine

A Lady to Love

Remember the stat stating that 84% of romance readers are women? Well, who do you think the story would revolve around? If you answered heroin, don’t worry I often drop that ‘e’ and wind up with that smack all over my notebook. But, I was looking for ‘heroine.’

Defined by The Google:

A heroine is a woman admired or idealized for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. She is the chief female character in a book, play, or movie, who is typically identified with good qualities, and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize.

That’s a pretty good way of putting it but doesn’t quite clear up who our heroine is. Current heroines are intelligent, resilient, likable, easy to identify with, passionate, and capable of love. She knows who she is and can usually handle any situation in a sensible and intelligent way. She rises above hard issues and makes us cheer for her. She makes us want to be her or, at least, have her in our lives as a sister or best friend. Pain, fear, and the need for love are qualities that we can share with her and pushes us to become emotionally invested in her. She should also be emotionally invested in something or someone. It can be keeping her business intact that drives her or her strong feelings about boxing that shows us she has things she values. Through her actions, words, and inner thoughts, we should know that love is in her heart and are able to see it grow throughout the story.

The heroine is compassionate toward others, but no one walks all over her. She treats others with respect and knows that she deserves respect for herself. Although she can gain this self-knowledge through character growth, she will have it if she didn’t stand up for herself in the beginning.

The heroine is the real deal by the reader’s standards and should stay that way all the way through to the end. No more are our pages filled with helpless ladies who drop everything when the hero pops up. They have goals, interests, and hobbies. Other people fill their lives and make it all the more interesting. Most of all, she is human and cannot be perfect.

All the greatest traits in the world can’t disprove that fact. She won’t always act according to her predispositions. Mistakes will be made and for good reason. She can get nervous, scared, or frazzled and can lash out with a verbal cut. We as the reader will know why and she will, at least, admit to herself that she feels bad about it. Because of that admission to herself or the person she lashed out at, we forgive her. She was just riled up and is made even more human to us.

Even if she doesn’t start out with every trait, she will have them be the end, becoming our true heroine.

During my studies, it was hard to find any specific types of heroines defined. I just went by the hero archetypes and switched the attributes over to what I thought the heroine would have. That was until I found The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami D. Cowden. In the book, eight of those archetypes were catered to the heroine. Here are my notes for each of those archetypes.

Heroine Archetypes

The Boss:

The Good: The words, “There’s no excuse, it’s time to make things happen.” or “Failure is not an option.” are some that often run across this confident and dynamic woman’s mind. She always has a plan in motion and does what it takes to achieve her goals. Always receptive to competition, the Boss is willing to accept any challenge with her opponent’s defeat being her ultimate goal.

The Bad: Feeling that ‘sugar coating’ is a waste of time, she can be blunt to the point of corrosive. But, not wasting time means getting things done, so no need to change, right? She also buries herself in her work, where she knows she can win, keeping other parts of her life closed off and unattended. Lastly, her arrogance can only be matched by her short temper. So what if people are hurt by her overbearing nature, ‘Ain’t nobody got no time for that.”

The Seductress:

The Good: Always, at least, one step ahead, this strong and clever temptress creates a world that she can control. Quick on her feet if anything was to go wrong, she is always prepared with a backup plan of a backup plan.

The Bad: Everyone is kept at a distance, never seeing her real face. She believes everyone is in it for themselves and no one gets cleared of her suspicions. Only being able to depend on herself, this cold-hearted heroine feels no guilt in manipulating people to get the security she wants.

The Spunky Kid:

The Good: This plucky underdog doesn’t give in or give up even when the odds are stacked against her. Being creative and open-minded helps the people that surround her move into greatness, always making her a vital part of the team. She is also not afraid of wading through any muck to get the job done.

The Bad: The ‘friend zone’ is usually her permanent residence when it comes down to her love life and she doesn’t take the steps to change that. She can be sarcastic and skeptical when it comes down to anything that deals with her but believes in the innate goodness of everyone else. This can turn into selfless acts that can bring her to exhaustion and block her from being able to see that she is being used.

The Free Spirit:

The Good: This handful is fun-loving, energetic, and can bring on the charm. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and lets her instincts guide her. Often considered a trendsetter with her imaginative outlook on life, she can also be slightly eccentric. Being deceitful requires too much work, so sincerity is the best way to go for her.

The Bad: Due to her impulsive nature, she is no stranger to getting jams and often needs help getting out. Being easily distracted can account for her klutziness and exaggeration is used often in the aftermath of whatever happened. She can be impulsive in just about everything, especially in making promises, which isn’t helped by her tendency to forget just almost everything.

The Waif:

The Good: She is of a sensitive and gracious nature and many just want to save her. Although, her inner strength can surprise them if they try. Her patience comes in from her trusting nature that believes everything will be okay in the end. Often described as kind and gentle, she is always willing to lend a hand.

The Bad: Although she has a very trusting nature, it can prove to be a detriment since it allows her to be considered as ‘easy prey’ and taken advantaged of by others. Her passive nature is also compounded by her own insecurities, which can get her into trouble.

The Librarian:

The Good: Order isn’t just an option for this strait-laced heroine, it is a way of life. Solitary in nature, she puts everything in its place and gets everything done. Her dependability isn’t outweighed by her seriousness, but don’t think she can’t summon up a sense of humor. When she finally lets loose, her passionate side is revealed.

After all, she actually read the Kama Sutra, instead of just looking at the pictures.

The Bad: She can also be considered a bit uptight, everything has a place that is where she wants it. Constantly repressing her feelings is a result of her being afraid of trying something that can not be controlled by her perfectionist attitude. If there are any rules, she will follow them firmly, even if the change present is for the better.

The Crusader:

The Good: This ready for action heroine goes everywhere with a true “Get ‘er done!” attitude. She has to get it done because if anyone else even tries they won’t get it right. No stranger to any fight, she will clear any obstacle set before her to complete whatever task she is working towards. If you don’t like it get out of the way.

The Bad: Although her determination is a great asset it can make her obstinate. Pointing out her wrongs can make her strengthen her resolve to stay on what could be a misguided path. Not one to stop and think things over, she jumps into action head first, which can get her into plenty of trouble.

The Nurturer:

The Good: A kind and caring mentor, the Nurturer is the ideal companion. She takes care of those she loves and enjoys being there for them. Holding everything together is her specialty and she relishes being dependable.

The Bad: It pains her to disappoint anyone so the word ‘no’ doesn’t often leave her lips. This leaves her open to being taken advantage of, but she won’t do more than hold a grudge. In trying to make others happy, she doesn’t look for her own happiness, leaving a feeling of emptiness.

I hope these archetypes gave you a good look into the many ways a heroine can be portrayed. Do you know of any I left out? What type of heroine do you like?

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