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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Building a heroine...

To write their story you will have to know your characters intimately. For this, you need to do more than fill out a character worksheet with all their physical characteristics, their birth sign, their place in the family hierarchy, the names of their siblings. — from Liz Fielding’s Little Book of Writing Romance

My new book, started at the beginning of the year, has a ready-made heroine (always a help!) Sorrel is the younger sister of Elle Amery – the heroine of Tempted By Trouble – so I know quite a lot about her before I start. She’s tall, willowy, with dark red hair and a wicked sense of humour that she does her best to keep strapped down.

She’s totally focussed on her career, determined to be a success and to never have to rely on anyone else. To never be poor. (She’s been there, done that…) She was a student when we last met her, taking a business management degree and determined to make her first million by the time she’s twenty-five.

Her sister’s creation of Scoop!, an ice-cream events business, gave her big ideas and by the time Elle is ready to take a back seat and concentrate on being a mother, she is ready to take over the management of the business and propel it out of the local, small business category and into the big time.

But it takes more than a driving ambition to make a heroine. She has to be someone your reader can empathise with, someone with those little failings, weaknesses that we all have. She has to be human.

Sorrel has always had style — she’s an expert at spotting classic bargains in charity shops and wearing them like a model. The budget isn’t as tight as it once was, but she’d still rather hunt down a great “previously owned” find in the local Oxfam shop, or on eBay than shop in the local high street (one of the suits she finds gets her into trouble from the word go). For clothes, that is. 

Shoes are something else and the minute I saw this pair of gorgeous Mui Mui sandals, I knew she would live on bread and water for a month in order to have them.

What heroine weakness would make her your natural best friend? 

What would you give up your lunchtime chocolate bar, your double skinny latte, for?

I’ll put all the comments in a hat and draw one on Monday. The winner will get the book of her choice from my backlist.

30 comments:

TashNz said...

Hi Liz, I would give it all up for a sapphire ring, i see them in the window and i just melt :)

Liz Fielding said...

Oh, yes! And I'd really, really love one of those big chunky amber necklaces - the ones with the big round beads. Around £1000 last time I checked :(

PrincessFiona01 said...

I have no best friends. I have people with commonalities. If I found someone who didn't mind if I didn't talk to her for months, didn't hug me on sight, actually liked my wierdness...I probably wouldn't like them. I get on best with the people in my head. long term that it.
Question number two. Always a book.

Laney4 said...

(1) If she had difficulty losing weight, I would probably bond with her. (2) I'd give them up in a heartbeat for a "nooner", LOL!

Liz Fielding said...

You sound like a natural born writer, Princess!

Liz Fielding said...

Well, that's us best mates, Laney!

And now we meet some kind of language barrier. What is a "nooner"?

PrincessFiona01 said...

That bad huh!

;-]

Liz Fielding said...

Sorry. :)

PrincessFiona01 said...

Apparently it means an intimate lunch meeting. Very intimate. Unless it means something entirely different. England and the US. Two countries divided by a common language.

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your post and giveaway, Liz. With all the focus on heroes in romance fiction, it's great to read a write-up about the importance of heroines.

It's hard for me to answer your question about a heroine's weaknesses because I don't think of such characters in terms of their weaknesses. Or for that matter, their strengths.

As for how I DO think of them---well, let me put it this way. Many readers and writers, and just about all editors, have a list of traits and attributes a romance heroine must have, and an even longer list of those she must not have. But I have only one requirement. She must be deeply involved in a situation I find interesting. Or better yet, fascinating.

This means I can dig all sorts of heroines---strong and weak, rich and poor, ambitious and laid-back, sophisticated and simple, conventional and square-peg, smart and naive. But probably not dumb. If she's really stupid, the situation she's in almost certainly wouldn't interest me.

BTW, here in the transatlantic former colonies, a nooner is when two people get it on during their lunch break.

As for what I'd give up lunch for, that's easy. A good book!

Keep up the good work!

Liz Fielding said...

I'd never heard it, Princess, but an intimate lunch date sounds lovely. If we ever manage to be in the same city (country, continent!) at the same time, it's a date. :)

Liz Fielding said...

Great post about what you want from a heroine, Mary Anne. And of course you're right - a heroine who is totally involved in an interesting, dramatic and/or emotional situation will always grab the reader. But it's those little human traits, the stuff that we recognise in ourselves, that makes us bond with her.

And thanks for the explanation of "nooner". I'm just hopping back to my reply to Princess to make it clear that when I was talking intimate, I was thinking two women chatting over a great lunch. Absolutely nothing else!

Liz Fielding said...

Princess, having just read Mary Anne's explanation - I just meant lunch, okay. Do not run screaming from the building... :)

Mary Anne Landers said...

Liz: LOL! Maybe we need Google Translate for American and British English!

Annie West said...

Hi Liz, I'm so looking forward to this book as I read 'Tempted by Trouble' in one delicious slurp. It's good to focus on heroines instead of heroes for a while. I suppose I like a heroine who, even if she's totally absorbed in surviving her current battles, isn't completely self-focused. I like a woman who has time to spare a thought for someone else who's having a hard time rather than just concentrating on 'me, me, me'.

Di said...

I would enjoy a friend who has a weakness for a great shopping bargain - whether it be at a new store or at a thrift store or a garage sale - such fun to poke around and see what we could find!

Taylor Skye said...

I'd give it up just so I could see my dad one last time

Charlotte

charlottemcfall27@yahoo.co.uk

PrincessFiona01 said...

I think you've already got the message about the hugging thing Liz. We're good then for food and conversation only. I could have been more explicit in my post but wasn't sure about the protocols of the s*x word in a public blogsphere.

PrincessFiona01 said...

Hi Charlotte
I had to go to an old time ball last night to represent my charity and receive a cheque. It was very nostalgic because when I was young I always danced the Pride of Erin with my dad at the Opal Festival ball out West. He's been gone since 1987.

marybelle said...

I'd give them up for the holiday of my dreams. I'm still laughing over the NOONER comments.

Laurie G said...

What heroine weakness(es) would make her your natural best friend?

A love of reading romance novels and a love of eating mint chocolate chip or Heath Bar ice cream


What would you give up your lunchtime chocolate bar, your double skinny latte, for?

I'd love to see Phantom of the Opera with Gerard Butler on stage!

PrincessFiona01 said...

I loved the soundtrack of Phantom of the Opera, Double LP so that tells you how long ago. For twenty or more years I dreamed of seeing it and then my daughter gave me a ticket for the last show in Brisbane a couple of years ago. When the Chandelier goes up at the beginning I just about burst into tears I was so emotional.

Liz Fielding said...

Hi Annie! I have to admit I can't relate to shopping-obsessed heroines. While I loved Sophie Kinsella's earlier books, I wasn't ever in the the Shopaholic sderies. Sorrel is really torn at the beginning of this book!

Liz Fielding said...

Di, Sorrel loves designer clothes, but would never pay "new" prices - she lives to hunt down a bargain on eBay!

Liz Fielding said...

I'm still blushing, Marybelle!

Liz Fielding said...

Aw, Taylor... Me, too. (Tearing up here.)

Liz Fielding said...

Laurie, the reading thing is great. I'm thinking strawberry shortcake icecream :) And Phantom with Gerard - I think I might save my pennies for that one!

Liz Fielding said...

Thanks to everyone for dropping by and making this such a fun day. Lovely to see you all.

Taylor - you made me cry, so you are definitely the winner of a signed book from my backlist. Take at look at the list on my website http://www.lizfielding.com - and email me - there's a link on the site.

Renee said...

I'd give up chocolate for books. I don't need food but do need books. It is my weakness.

Taylor Skye said...

Thank you Liz, I have sent you an email. Sorry I made you cry. xxx