Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sunday Story - heroines

Do you have friends who ask you REALLY good questions that stump you? I've got one today. It's about heroines - our female lead characters.

Heroines in erotic romance (or romance in general) have to be relate-able to the reader - they either have to want them for a friend, or want to be them - or so says the general 'writing guidelines'.

Which I've always tried to do.

Then with Deep Diving, a friend asked me why, if Sam was an elite athlete and sexually competent, did I make her second guess herself with Cooper? Yeah, good point. When the question was raised, I was doing the early draft, so I made her more confident...but not completely. She still had to be someone women would like, right?

Lana is confident. In Secret Confessions: Sydney Housewives Lana she's the 'aggressor' in the sexual encounters with young men - but I gave her a fantasy (a need) that she'd never done that made her vulnerable, for just a moment. But again, I've given her a fear, a lack of confidence, to make her more relate-able.

So, this time I'm writing a MMF (male-male-female) story. One of the men is inexperienced in sex, the other man and woman are experienced, and older. The woman is independent, knows what she wants and goes about getting it. She's a sports journalist and has 'made' it in a largely male-dominated industry. But when I've sent bits to my friend (same one who's kicked my butt before!) his response was - why is she second guessing herself all the time? That's such a turn off. She's strong, confident, knows what she wants, why don't you keep her like that?

Which makes me stop and think.

I'm making her relate-able to women. So I give her fears. Plus, if I'm honest, they're my natural fears too. But...

Shouldn't I also be true to womanhood? Shouldn't I be showcasing a woman who men find attractive, who turns men on? Shouldn't I be creating a character who shows that women can be confident and a 'whore' (as per Friday discussions lately; not in a negative way) and still likeable, lovable and relate-able?

Would you read a heroine who is sexually confident, knows what she wants and goes after it?

How about a woman who loves sex and revels in having a relationship with two men?

Why aren't I writing that woman? Why am I even having this discussion? Why am I portraying women as lesser to ensure other women read their stories?

Damn, I hate that my lack of female-empowerment is pointed out to me by a man!

What are your thoughts?


  1. While I was thinkng about this (again) tonight, I thought I'd have a look at Goodreads reviews. Lana was a pretty strong, go-getting female, so I read through those reviews (I'm not keen on reading reviews, so I usually avoid them. Have to say I'm blown away after reading these).

    Of all my books, this is ranked the highest on GR for stars. And for the most part, most reviewers mentioned how much they liked Lana and her strong character.

    So, my heroine is going to be strong and match it with her men. See if I can score for strong female characters again :) Of course some people will hate it, but let's see how I go.

    And yes, I realise if I went and read the reviews I would have known this already! Self doubt, it's a killer, hey!

    Cate xo

  2. Great post! I personally love a sexually confident heroine. I think the genre needs more but you are right, many readers respond negatively--not all but enough to turn some writers off writing them. Keep writing your characters and make them as strong as the plot requires. There will be people out there who appreciate them.

    1. Thanks, Sami! I'll just write for the readers who like sexually confident heroines :) This plot needs a strong woman.

      Thanks for the comment and vote for strong women!
      Cate xox

  3. I think it's good for 'strong' and 'assured' characters (whether male or female) to still have fears, it makes them more interesting. But it should kind of be one specific thing, to contrast with the areas they're more confident in. I love a strong heroine!

  4. I'm here. Writing wee small comments because of the blog-eating thing. But wanted you to know I'm still reading!