What constitutes a “Kick-ass” heroine?
Studying what works for me as a reader, it isn’t the physical prowess, or dominance that brings the character to life. It is the flaws. I enjoy the physical descriptions of action, adventure and love, but it’s the breath taking anticipation of whether they can they overcome their inner struggle that keeps me coming back.
As a writer, my first female hero was Amara, the Ultimate Warrior. She hacked through my parody of high fantasy like a female Conan. When I reviewed her as a role model, her daughter struck me as much more interesting. Most people can identify with the fears of adolescence. Our body isn’t as developed as our friends, our weight is wrong. Height, hair colour and intelligence all eat into our self-esteem. Add on top of this a high-achieving parent to finish the battering. When the ultimate warrior’s daughter can’t hold a sword, we have the start of a flawed person.
Where many heroines arrive on stage fully created, I wanted to take Amara’s Daughter, Maryan, through the forging process. This decision came from the intended audience. From the first word hitting the page, Amara’s Daughter was aimed at a 16-20 year old female. She was going to demonstrate her growth from adolescent uncertainty into a powerful maturity.
Doctor Frankenstein time: Build a heroine.
The “kick-ass” heroine has to be fit. Rarely described as classically beautiful, they have the allure of a body that looks good in lycra/ leather. Use an athlete, swimmer or possibly a dancer to provide the body.
I love extremes, finding it easier to turn down a character, than to add spice. Personality, appearance and behaviour all benefit. Make them love, hate, curse and fight with a passion that burns. Weapons – the bigger the better. Staffs, swords, daggers or guns, give them the best.
Remember to have their prowess counter-balanced by flaws. When adding the defects, think outside the box and avoid a stereotype. Take the time to build a backstory, the detail might not hit the page, but somehow it shows through.
To make a kick-ass heroine work, the author has to love writing fight/ action scenes. They have to create a story that moves without ponderous scene building. The reader is looking for a walk on the wild side, not a stroll in the park.
Just as any protagonist in literature, the heroine has to emerge changed. Plunge them into a bath of torture, play on their weakness and watch them succeed. It’s what they’re good at.
ABOUT E. H. Howard: Living in Cheshire, I’ve run a successful computer consultancy for many years. The business continues to thrive and I feel blessed that people pay me to solve complex problems for them. One day, we hope to spend a portion of our year on the Greek islands, where I would love to spend most days writing, but for now, I’m content to visit as frequently as possible. I split my writing time between short stories and novels. I love to take the challenge of creating a viable story in a reduced number of words for flash competitions. Book links: http://bookshow.me/B00DBCPVKI On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ehhoward.author