Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What Readers Want: A Non-Scientific But Fun Poll & Post

That pretty much sums it up, romance writers! And hey, if you're a Women's Fiction writer, stick around, too, because we've got stuff to share with you.

First, you're wondering how I did my research. Understandable.

Umm... facebook???

And here in Seekerville.

And on Twitter.

SOCIAL MEDIA SCIENCE. YES!!!!

So I'm not exactly running Gallup polls. I'm not verifying results with Price, Waterhouse and Cooper (aka: PWC) and I''m pretty much making some stuff up as I go along, but I did DO the polls , so that should count for something. Okay, back to serious results:

We're going to talk heroines in this blog. Heroes will come next, right before Easter. Then settings and secondaries in blog #3 at the end of the month.

Let's do heroines first, and you know why? Because they matter. They matter far more than readers might give them credit for because while we are attracted to the hero...

We empathize with the heroines.

While we want to fix the heroes...(what are we thinking, gals??)

We want to sit down and have coffee with a well-drawn heroine.

So here's how it went, with 107 replies/choices:

1. The Kate Beckett profile (Castle): Independent heroines, maybe a little in your face, strong, assertive, sense of humor but reaches out.  (35 votes)

2. Mother Earth profile: Kind, caring and empathetic, loves kids, cats and dogs and will hold frogs. (27 votes)

3. The Martha type: Saucy, sassy, able to handle a job, three kids, the hero and do homework.  (25 votes)

4. The Stephanie Plum gal: Sassy, feisty but humble, always seems to be getting herself into some kind of trouble. (10 votes)

5. The Magdalena: The loner who carries a great deal of weight on her shoulders from undeserved guilt.  (5 votes)

6. The Boss: No nonsense, stay out of her way, she's got this! Until she doesn't. (3 votes)

So here's the point I got from all of this: #1 and #6 are almost the same person, same profile, but here's the difference: We humanized her more in choice #1. Look at the words: Independent, strong, in your face, strong, assertive, in your face but reaches out...

And then #2 is a crowd-pleasing favorite. She's Becky Thatcher... Laura Ingalls mom Caroline... Ma Walton...  She's often the 2nd sister in a trilogy, the one who stays home to run the farm.

#3 is a true Martha... She's got it all, maybe not because she wants to... but because she must. So if she must... she does it well. 

#4 seems to be more likely to find her way in a humorous women's fiction story. Janet Evanovich style... The gal who's always getting into scrapes.  

Strong writing can work within all these prototypes. And a strong writer can blend things together because real people are a blend. What's crucial is to stay in character all the way... The character can grow... but cannot become someone else. 

#5, the loner who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders is my heroine from "Refuge of the Heart", the Maggie award-winning story of a church-sponsored refugee who was held captive by the Russian army in Chechnya before obtaining her freedom and finally a chance to come to America.

It is a beautiful story that's about to be re-published as an indie book, a story that grips the reader and pulls them into Lena's world... But look at how few votes that got in a simple poll.

Here's what that tells us: Any story, told well, can defy the odds.

Let not your heart be troubled... John 14:1

Don't give up on your work if it doesn't seem right. If it's not being received well... yet. :) Because every bit of work you do is preparing you for your goals. Your future. Your chances, possibly magnified.

Believe in yourself but pay attention to what readers want... what they love.

Is that selling out?

Of course not, that's ridiculous! If you know that pink/yellow/green quilts sell well at the fair, is it wrong to create pink/yellow/green quilts?

No.

It's smart.

Very few people drive a Lexus.

Most of us are more in the Subaru/Chevy/Toyota frame of pocketbook.

Writing appealing stories doesn't make us less of a writer... and it can certainly make us more prolific.

Tell me about your heroines! I thought we'd have room for heroes today, but I talked too much. (SHOCKER!!!)

Will I love your heroines? Or want to slap them?

A copy of "Refuge of the Heart" is in the prize vault to celebrate its upcoming re-release...

I hope folks will love it.

I know they will.

They already do.

And huge blessings on Franciscan Media for turning the publishing rights back over to its fiction authors, to give these books a chance to meet the audience they deserve. I can honestly say that their actions are rare in Christian fiction... and a true blessing to their former authors.

Come on in! Let's talk heroines, my friends! 

Multi-published, award-winning inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne loves writing stories... big stories and sometimes small stories. Long stories... short stories... and the occasional poem, just because. She writes on her pumpkin farm in Western New York where the winters are long and the springs are muddy, but she loves, loves, loves cats, dogs, donkeys, kids, the good Lord above and chocolate. Friend her on facebook or chase down her website ruthloganherne.com


80 comments:

  1. COFFEE IS HERE! And no small selection of good stuff to go in it. And tea for my tea-drinking buddies!

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  2. Good morning! I can't wait for the re-launch of this amazing story!

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    1. FIRST COMMENT AWARD! :) Hey, I've got coffee for you! #bestmomever

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    2. Make mine a double, please! #SoTired #Kids #NeedIceCreamToo

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    3. Jan! I would love to get ice cream with you again. Preferably with more time to visit next time! :)

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    4. That would be great! Armadillos, here we come!!!

      Or maybe Abbott's some day. :-)

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    5. Jan, I'll kick a kid out of a bedroom to make space for you! And I'll even change the sheets! :) Come east. We'll giggle and laugh and eat cookies and walk the lakeshore of Lake Ontario!

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  3. Good morning Ruthy! Fun survey! I enjoy a wide variety of heroine types--except the "dumb as a rock" variety. :)

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    1. Glynna, I had so much fun doing the survey on the new Love Inspired Authors and Readers Group on facebook... which gives us a chance to chat with readers, like almost face to face... so facebook to facebook! :)

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  4. A chocolate malt instead of coffee might be a nice perk for morning break! Hi ladies...thinking of heroines, my favourite to read and write has to be the "Crusader" which is your #1, Ruth. She never gives up, has a strong moral code, loves children and pets, fights for what's right. And then my second favourite would be the "Spunky Kid" who's a bit more naive and down to earth but still never gives up. It's interesting that we see a lot of flawed and anti-heroes in fiction, but not so many anti-heroines, do we? That role is pretty taboo for women in fiction. What do you ladies think?

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    1. Oh, chocolate malt... Yes!!!

      And what a good point. Who's an anti-hero? Jason Bourne? Cold-blooded murderer/assassin but so sympathetic because he knows it wasn't who he was meant to be...

      Is Scarlett O'Hara a female anti-hero? Because she was an absolute jerk... (Julie will smack me for saying that!!!)

      So I think that tells us that the great storytelling by Margaret Mitchell and Robert Ludlum transcends the rules...

      A great story offers greater allowance, maybe? What do you think, Laurie?

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    2. I agree, a great story gives the author more wiggle room for sure. I was thinking Jack Reacher actually as an anti-hero but Jason Bourne works too! And Scarlett is the perfect anti-heroine although she did take care of her family, her motivations were always "off". And I think MM did an amazing job of showing how the southern women of that time period had to change on a dime with the war and become someone they never thought they'd ever be. This was a very interesting poll in the CBA arena - I wonder what it would've been like in the ABA world? :)

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  5. Oh, dear, the heroines in my last two WIPs were #5. And the one before that a combination of 5 and 2 (maternal but deeply scarred). With their backstories they couldn't be much else, but I am definitely going to take this to heart and try another heroine model on my next venture. Ruthy, I am looking forward to this series.
    What happened with Franciscan? Did they drop their fiction line?

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    1. Kaybee, do not despair! There are unlikely heroes and heroines everywhere.... See my note with Laurie above... and if the story is strong enough to offset or envelope the protagonists, then it can work... Refuge of the Heart is a story like that. Lena is an unlikely heroine but when taken in context for what she endured, readers love her...

      I think it's good to take chances and step out on a limb now and again.... but also to realize that writing for the market isn't a bad thing. It's plain smart!

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    2. Couple of my heroes are scarred, too. It's hard for my people to trust...

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    3. But they're scarred on different levels and in different ways. Noah was abandoned by his mother and had a demanding father, so he covered for it with glad-handing and clowning. Paul's world was shattered when his young wife died in a hit-and-run, but he was a strong believer before, so he becomes reserved but functional. Pace in my Oregon Trail series had a HORRIFIC childhood, Dickensian even, so he is the most reserved, guarded and wary. Sometimes heroes and heroines have to have a combination of the elements Ruthy sketched. There are different degrees of, well, everything.

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  6. I'm so glad you got the rights to Lena's story back. It is a wonderful, powerful story, and deserves a wide audience!

    But you wanted to talk about heroines...

    The heroine in my WIP is a mixture of #1 and #2.

    She's the "mom" of her family, with a father and four younger brothers to take care of, so that's where the "Mother Earth" type comes in. She can clean a house in no time...as long as no little brothers are trying to "help." She's a "farm wife" from the 1930's, so of course she does every kind of work imaginable. And with little brothers around, you know she's handled her share of snakes, toads, and baby birds.

    But she's a bit feisty, too, and this is where Kate Beckett comes in. She must endure endless teasing from the brothers who are right behind her in age, which strengthens any woman's backbone. And while she has been forced by circumstances to take on her mother's role, she has her own dreams and goals. And she's assertive enough to accomplish what she sets out to do.

    But I think you hit the sweet spot when you said, "Believe in yourself but pay attention to what readers want... what they love." Readers want to love the heroine and identify with her. We want to cheer for her. We want to see her feel what we feel, fight against what we fight against, and win...even if we don't see how we can win...but at least we know it can be done.

    Great post, Ruthy dear! I'm looking forward to the next two in the series!

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    1. Jan, you said this so well! I love the make-up of your heroine... she sounds like she and I could get along just fine! And of course I agree with your words... that we want to understand and empathize with that heroine. Sometimes that's a challenge for the author, which often means we've either created an unfriendly person (Cruella D'Ville) or we've stepped out of character... which is a huge annoyance for readers. They see through that pretty quick!!!

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    2. Jan, I would love to read this, your heroine sounds like a piece of work!

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  7. Love this, Ruthy! I think there's also the factor of, although we have a certain type of heroine we like best, we don't want to read about the exact same heroine or the same scenario over and over. We want variety. So yes, we love a great story well told about other types of heroines. But that's just my theory. :-)
    Thanks for this, Ruthy! Can't wait to see your other results!

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    1. I did get told that one of my heroine was a b--- I mean, an not-nice girl. She was bossy and irritable and angry most of the time. So I've had to soften her up. (This is my 1880 book set in Alabama that never sold.) And I'm hoping to indie-pub that book, as soon as I get a minute to breathe! I don't want my heroines to all sound the same, but I have to be able to relate to them, and I have to have them nice enough that my readers care about them. Margaret Mitchell was able to pull off the unlikeable heroine, but that was because of other factors being so good and strong in that story, and I should really write a blog post analyzing Gone With the Wind someday. Hmm... but thanks for making me think about what makes my heroines appealing. Honestly, I think there's so much that goes into this, into what makes a good heroine. We could spend a lot of time exploring this subject. So you definitely didn't talk too much, Ruthy! It's a broad subject. ;-)

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    2. Hey, I just mentioned GWTW above, answering Laurie's comment! I can't stand Scarlett... But it was a great book/movie/etc. Now I will never go back and read it or watch it again, because it annoys me, but I can still respect the brilliance of the work.

      This is a broad subject!!! (laughing, pun intended...)

      Seriously, when we look at what makes a heroine likable, some of it is strength, some is vulnerability, some is character and some is the indefinable bowl of stuff that distinguishes recipes!

      So you have a witchy heroine, LOL!

      We can indie pub some stuff together, my friend. I bet she's a lot of fun, and I love saucy heroines... and how fun is it to match a SNIPPY heroine with a baby or small kid that blows snot bubbles... Think "Raising Helen" (although she wasn't really snippy, just modern snippy)

      This job is so much fun.

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    3. Gone With the Wind. Ah. Remember, she ALSO took care of her sisters, her family and Ashley's family. So what I take away from that is the will to survive. I don't think any of us want to BE Scarlett, that would be exhausting, but there's a lesson here, triumph of the human spirit and all that. Also, Melaine was HER backbone, and Melanie was tough in a different way. Love is the strongest force her. Melanie "bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, endured all things."

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    4. Scarlett and Melanie are more complex characters than most people realize, especially in the book. The movie was, well, a movie.

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    5. I loved Melanie... that self-sacrificial spirit... although she's a little mild for me, but I loved her. Maybe because I want to slap Scarlett???? :)

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    6. It IS annoying how loving and naive Melanie is toward Scarlett! But Kaybee!!! You mentioned that the takeaway from Scarlett is her will to survive. That's what Margaret Mitchell said! I never actually "got" that. But she said her intention was to show Scarlett as the ultimate survivor, because from the stories her family told her about the Civil War, there were two types of people--the survivors and the not-so-good-at-surviving people. (Okay, that is NOT as eloquently as Margaret Mitchell said it.)

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  8. Ruthy, I love these polls. (And the muffins. Thanks.) I love the different types of heroines. The one who’s as comfortable in the boardroom as she is in the kitchen. Or the tender-hearted kindergarten teacher who isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with the school board president. I like the tough-but-tender type, because it’s so much fun to watch the hero peel back the layers and get glimpses of that tender side. Until he finally sees her for who,she really is and can’t help but fall in love with her. Sigh. This is why we write romance.

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    1. Oh my stars, you had me at hello, Mindy! :) The polls have been fun, I love seeing readers interact with us and vote... and I like the tough-but-tender type too. I'm writing one for indie release in 2019, and that's her in a nutshell... and then life pulls her up short and she can't say goodbye to people she loved... or apologize... or make amends. Sometimes you're just too late... and I hope folks love seeing this executive find the gentle but strong soul within in time to make things better for a whole lot of people... #miniaturedonkeyinthisbook!!!!

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  9. RUTHY, thank you for the fun post!

    I brought English Breakfast Tea and Chocolate Chip scones to share.

    Have a WONDERFUL Wednesday!

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    1. Gimme a scone and no one gets hurt!

      Hey, Caryl, thanks for bringing food to the table!

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  10. No wonder I always love your heroines, Ruthy. You've got it down to a science. In historical fiction (my usual writing choice) I think we have to look at heroines in the way women were viewed during the time frame I'm writing in. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm thinking #1 and #6 usually don't go over well in historical fiction, but move it to contemporary, and yeah #1 is #1. I also think we can gray this thing up and have mixtures of these character types such as a #2 combined with a #5. Makes an interesting change up! I loved Magdalena in Refuge of the Heart. Such a strong and courageous woman in spite of her decorum and the hard life she lived. I hereby deem the necessity for a #7, call it 'Ruthy's heroines' and describe it as "always unique but incredibly endearing and perfectly suited for the role she plays in the story."

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    1. Hi Cindy!

      I write historical, too. As I thought about society's norms of what women were supposed to be like 75 or 150 years ago, I realized that if women were really like that, we never would have gotten the vote! :-)

      I think you'll find all of Ruthy's types throughout history, so let your characters have their say...within society's boundaries, of course!

      And I agree totally - we need a "Ruthy's Heroine!"

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    2. Cindy, you are so right. In my first Oregon Trail story the heroine doesn't take over as Wagon Master, that would just be weird. She is strong (stronger than I'd be) within the constraints that that society has for her. But within those constraints, women HAD to be strong to survive that blasted Trail.

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    3. Oh my stars, I love #7!!! :) You are the best... I've got a frontier historical series coming out next year (LIH closed, so I'm going to do them as indie pubs) and you're right... we have to keep their character in line with the decorum of the time. So they might be saucy (like Nellie in Second Chance Christmas) but there were lines that you couldn't step over so that's confining. What a smart thing you are!!! :) And thank you for your kind words. I had to go get a haircut, I was wretchedly shaggy.... But I'm back and brought cream puffs!!!

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    4. Kaybee, what a good point. I always look at Connealy's heroines and how she's crossed a broad swath of women and they all end up successful despite their flaws or falters... but they are so distinctive! I love that.... And she's great at showing their growth both in the book and throughout a series. Amazing recall!!!

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  11. It's probably because I'm a Baby Boomer but I identify more with heroines 2 & 3. I probably fit the Mother Earth profile the best: Kind, caring and empathetic, loves kids, cats and dogs and will hold frogs. I've never held a frog but I have a pic showing me holding a snake! Yes, it was just one time and I did it for my job BUT I did hold it!
    As for the Martha type: Saucy, sassy, able to handle a job, three kids, the hero and do homework. I just had one daughter but I did work on the farm for many years and for several years after I became a public librarian. I was also able to handle my hero most of the time!
    I loved reading your choices and once again we are shown the differences that each generation embraces!
    Blessings to you Ruthy and thanks for your fun post.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Connie, so good to see you! I love that you mix farm work and being a librarian because I can totally see that! We women have to put our hands at whatever God and life hand our way. It's just part of being a woman, I think. We joke about how much a woman can handle comparatively, but I think God did that for a reason. We have to have an overview... kids... jobs.... house... church... school... friends.... more kids and more jobs! We are made of tough stuff, for certain.

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  12. Fun post, Ruthy! I love that you did polls to learn about heroines people like! :) My women's fiction story has two sisters in it. They are very different from each other, in personality and skillsets. The older sister is kind of a #1 type heroine, independent, capable, confident . . . at least on the surface. And the younger sister is more of a #3, I think. She's saucy, but able to handle a lot with her family. And the conflict that ensues . . . I'm hoping it will draw readers in so they enjoy the story. :)

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    1. Thank you, Jeanne! I love sisters in a series. Sisters can be so far apart on the spectrum... or thick as thieves. I'm doing a sisters series on an Idaho ranch for Love Inspired and I love these women... Good for you on your progress! It sounds wonderful, Jeanne.

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  13. I'm so inclined to write #1/#6 heroines that I have to FORCE myself to do something different occasionally. And even if the woman is a softy, I usually toughen them up. Why is that what I think a heroine should do? (I am speaking as a total wimp!!!)

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    1. I love Montana Rose, oh my stars, you brought her from such a state of neediness to a state of strength. I remember when she was "China Doll", way back when... Great growth, great story.

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  14. My heroine in the upcoming The Accidental Guardian is a talk-charge woman but soft and not a western woman, she's on a wagon train. I'd call her a #3 maybe. Very hard working. Potential to be a feisty #1 with a few more years dodging longhorns and outlaws.

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    1. Mary, that's what I love about your stories, I said that above... you have a marvelous talent for continued growth of your heroines from book to book so that the reader is totally immersed in the whole deal... and feels like they're there, in the west, growing with the land. I love women with potential!

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    2. This, I love this in a heroine. That she grows and changes over the course of a series. From tough to tender or tender to a bit tougher. Either is good! I've read a bunch of Stephanie Plum books over the years but I finally hit the wall with that. Because she's always the same. I know it's a humorous read, but still... Give me that character growth and change. Please! :-)

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  15. Thank you for your entertaining and educational post, Ruthie!

    Awesome that Franciscan Media turned the publishing rights back over to its fiction authors! Congratulations on your re-release!

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Thank you, Phyllis! I love the new cover, I love that they released the books back to us, it was the absolutely most gracious thing to do. And honestly, they were a dream to work with. From beginning to end, they were wonderful.

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  16. My heroines so far have all been weird combinations of #2s and #4s. Not sure how that even works, but I'm hoping it does and that other people will enjoy getting to know these figments of my imagination. On the other hand, I would love to write a #1/#6 some day. Would be out of my comfort zone, but I'm thinking I should give it a try. Thank you, Ruthy, this was enlightening and entertaining!

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    1. I think that's a fun combination! And you know what I say about comfort zones... they're far too cozy. I think one of the best ways we keep ourselves at the top of our game is to create a pile of work... and then challenge ourselves out of that comfort zone. It's like a 3rd grade teacher moving to fifth grade... she might hate it, but it's good for her and the kids because she can't rely on a has-been bunch of material. Everything she does smacks of new!

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  17. An excellent post, Ruthy! I love the topic of heroines, it's so fun (and the rest of this series looks like it will be just as fun)

    Let's see... my heroines...

    There's Chelsea. She's a bit of a worrier, but she's also very capable. She likes to make a plan and stick to it. She hates change.

    Alicia is a very different heroine considering that she's *slightly* insane. She's very calm and collected because she doesn't worry. She also doesn't have a very good grip on reality either though so she probably wouldn't get freaked out say, if a dragon were about to eat her.

    Elisabeth definitely falls into the category of number #1. She is headstrong and isn't afraid to argue with anyone who stands in her way. She hates being powerless so she works hard not to be.

    Evona is a little bit of a softer heroine. She is empathetic and gets torn up about the little things. She's also dangerously smart and equally dangerously clutzy.

    Adilah is #5. She's spent the past few years on her own and she doesn't need anybody. She's not afraid to betray those she calls allies and befriend those she calls enemies because social limitations mean nothing to her.

    Shohl is beautiful and haughty and believes herself better than everyone else.

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    1. OH MY STARS!!!! This is part of your amazingly talented visual of how people act and then react, and you're doing it at such a young age... I love glimpsing your future, brat!

      You've created a fun mix of balance and unbalanced. How cool is that???? And slightly crazy....

      LOVE IT!

      There's a little fantasy/cartoon feeling to these, but totally empathetic.

      Laughing and proud of you!

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  18. Ruthy, this is so interesting! I was thinking to myself that #1 and 6 were the same. LOL But you're right about how it's stated. Very interesting indeed!

    You know, this may be a bit off topic. But do y'all have trouble writing a heroine who's really different from you? Like, I would have a harder time writing a #6 than writing a #2. Of course, I guess the challenge could be fun. :)

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    1. Missy, I think we put a little of ourselves into every heroine... and a little of Mr. Right into every hero.

      So even if we start off at #6 (which is really #1), we might end up with a mix of 1 and 3. (When a tough-as-nails woman ends up inheriting her sister's kids or a puppy)

      Or Mary's idea that a few years on the frontier turns #3 into #1. :) A lot of calving and sheet making will do that to you!

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  19. Heroines. I must say I haven’t given too much thought to what type of heroine I prefer. I get drawn into most personality types, except for the over-the-top control freaks....even if they turn around in the end.

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    1. MJSH, I think we FEAR those stinkin' control freaks in some old, Neanderthalic instinctive way. Because we know they can't control themselves (obsessive) and therefore we can't control them.

      I'm not drawn to them, either, even when they're sympathetically drawn. (Monk, As Good as it Gets).

      Great show/movie but maybe because we have a history of mental illness in the family, I don't get drawn into shows with borderline characters or obsessive characters. I hear you!

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  20. "Where are the intellectual heroines?
    You would think that literature would provide plenty of brilliant female characters. But you should think again."


    https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2007/may/31/wherearetheintellectualher

    I long for the muse: the intelligent, artistic free spirit who inspires young men and who, when she speaks, is instantly accepted as an equal by all the experts in the room.

    In real life that would be Anais Nin and in fiction: Mrs. Dalloway in Alexander McCall Smith's books and Diotima of Mantinea in Plato's Symposium.

    A goddess would be nice too.

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    1. I wrote a brilliant response to this and then my computer shut down for an update it didn't warn me about and GONE!

      Aye Caramba!

      I think readers love blue collar, Vince. They love the race that knows Joseph, the everyday gal who works to make it either in family or business or both... Hallmark is a great example of this. They've used a few intellectual heroines... and they don't downplay their intelligence... but their most-watched heroines are more girl-next-door type. Lacey Chabert, Lori Loughlin, Alicia Witt, Danica McKellar... People love them.

      I think so much of this comes back to reader preference. We write lots of smart heroines. I just had one character remind the other that college doesn't equate with smart. "Do you think smart women leaped into being because they let them go to college? Of course not. They always existed, long before they had degrees bestowed upon them."

      I wouldn't be a Nin fan. She's got the egocentric mindset that grates on my nerves. I like a more sacrificial heart. Done quietly!

      And she was into erotica, so that's a 'No-Go' clause for me.

      Vince. You should write this. You're about the only person I know smart enough to write it. You have the referential material that would make this shine.

      I say do it!!!

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  21. I love all heroines. Except maybe Scarlett O'Hara. LOL Because the world is made up of all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds so why not read about them? Mind you, authors have to give readers something to relate to as well. Give us hints about why the heroine is the way she is so we can start feeling a connection with her. But otherwise I like variety in my heroines.

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    1. OH MY STARS!!! Julie, did you hear that???? Another Scarlett scoffer! :)

      Kav, spoken like the true teller of tales you are... we need to show why someone acts the way they do to make it relatable... Variety is the spice of life!

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  22. Ah, Ruthy! I love your scientific approach! LOL! I use the 16 Master Archetypes book by Viders Lafever and Cowden to create heroes and heroines, and the descriptions in the book match quite a few of yours...well, the spirit of them, anyway! ;)

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    1. THEY HAVE BOOKS ON THIS STUFF???????

      (says Ruthy tongue-in-cheek because she does not open craft books... not when the good Lord sent so many human subjects her way!!!)

      This is where my long (looooong) years of experience and working with people in restaurants, retail, bakery, sales, wedding gowns comes in handy. And even being part of writers' groups because women reveal themselves without a thought... and now facebook. You can learn so much about people by being a lurker on facebook. But mostly I go on the instinct of people I know, situations I see.

      Life tends to reveal itself to me, even when I beg a pass!

      AAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! :)

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  23. Very interesting poll, Ruthy! Recently, I went a little heavy handed with the Kate Beckett profile and was told she was too mean...LOL! Thanks for sharing these results with us.

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    1. Jill, I do that all the time, especially if it's fun! :) And then I have to dial it back.

      And it's tough in LI books because we have certain parameters to walk... so if a heroine goes outside the zone, we'll probably be asked to slice and dice.

      I learned with the longer books that we still don't want to go too far out of the "zone" because we want people to love the story... but we do get to expand the whys and wherefores, and that's kind of fun!

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  24. Great poll for heroines. I tend to make mine a little too snarky or sarcastic but my favorite are the Stephanie Plum types.

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    1. She is so well-written and stays in character... But tricky in romance/romantic suspense for traditional publishers, right?

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  25. I love to have all types of heroines, except the simpering, "save me" type! I want them kind & loving, but able to save the world if they have to! I don't want them mean either! I read one of those recently - they can stand up for themselves but they don't have to be mean!

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    1. Hey, good to see you! I don't like mean heroines, either. I don't like mean people. Kindness should always be the first order of the day. With a dash of snark, humor and a splash of wisdom. Having said that, I like tough heroines. But they don't always reveal themselves as tough initially... a solid core within a woman to pick herself up after being knocked down is a wonderful thing.

      If we don't support one another, we lose a valuable resource. I like your take on this, Valri!

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  26. Love this repartee of you writers. Just keep writing and I will read. Thanks, Ruthie, for a great post. I’m looking forward to the upcoming posts. And I kind of sheepishly will admit that even though I have been an avid reader since I was a teenager (and that was only a month or two ago—lol more like 50 yrs ago) I have never read (or seen the movie) GWTW. Someday, although with all your Seekerville authors publishing so many books that I enjoy, I don’t see GWTW going on my TBR pile any time soon. Thx for a good read this morning! Blessings.

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    1. Anne, so good to see you! I'm laughing with you because I'm okay not reading GWTW or seeing it again.... but I do love reading sweet stories of warmth and redemption. Now I know that makes me a total sap, but I'm okay with that!!!

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  27. Love this post Ruthy!

    I love feisty heroines that deep down maybe a little insecure but keep fighting for what they want.

    Where do you put heroines like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes? No one pays her any attention and her husband doesn't treat her w/respect until she meets Jessica Tandy in the nursing home and she begins to change.

    How does the author make us like her from the beginning even though she's wimpy? I have a similar-heroine story I've never written because my heroine just comes off as annoying.

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    1. I love that movie! And I love her character. And I DO NOT KNOW WHY IT WORKS.... Maybe because we see the growth in all three women? In Ruth, in Idgie, in Evelyn... for me it was like God's perfect timing, that Evelyn would meet up with Idgie in the home, hearing the story of that long-before time.... seeing it through an old woman's eyes, how women have always had to stand together and fight for what's right. And how that's always better than pulling each other down. She'd be in a special category all her own, stoic enough to put up with a bossy, pesky husband, but coming into her own enough to realize she can be more than what she is. And wanting to be that person. What a great question!

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  28. I love this post! I am learning so much from all the comments also! Thank you (all) for sharing your wisdom with those of us that are just stepping out to begin our own WIP.

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    1. Paula, it's so nice to have you here! You are most welcome, and we'll keep chatting about this on my days for the next few weeks. It's fun to see what readers think... and then how we authors can deliver it to them!

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  29. Ruthy, your words of wisdom are so timely. A few readers have critiqued the first few chapters of my WIP, and my female protagonist is showing too much vulnerability too soon, which comes off as weakness. I agree (why couldn't I see that as I was writing?). :) I'm revising, and this post provides some good guidance. (I miss Kate Beckett.)

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    1. Karen, I've done the same thing. Or I've got them too wounded or too snarky... so then we dial it back. And it's amazing how easy that is once we've done it a few times. Practice makes perfect, right??? :) I just finished revising a story I missed the mark on, and I'm so glad they pointed things out to me because now, when the book releases later this year, it will be so much better. Sometimes we hit one out of the park... sometimes we barely get to first base. It's a funny world we work in!

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  30. Ruthy, I always love reading your posts. You have great wisdom, but also a totally amazing sense of humor. Even though I'm not a writer, I enjoy reading about writerly things. Hugs, sweet friend!

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    1. And did you notice that I finally got my comments to post? Although, I hope saying that didn't jinx me! :)

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    2. WINNIE!!! YOU MADE IT IN!!!! I'm happy dancing, my friend!!!! Aw, thank you for your kind words, I like to think the snarky humor keeps me in good standing when I mess up (regularly) but gosh, hearing the word "wisdom" will make me smile all day... and possibly e-mail that quote to Mary Connealy like A HUNDRED TIMES. :)

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    3. Hahaha! You totally should e-mail it to Mary! She'll be so jealous! :-D

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