|By Antonio Litterio
The heroine of a romance or saga is a singular woman. She has to face conflicts and setbacks on the way to fulfilment without being ground down, or coming across as sickeningly perfect. When readers are asked why they love books, escapism always features highly. We all know how good it can be to get really wrapped up in a story. If your readers like your heroine, they'll turn page after page to find out what happens to her. To make your heroine as irresistible to your readers as she is to your hero, keep these three points in mind...
LIKE HER: Half the fun of reading romance is in imagining yourself in the heroine's shoes. Whether those are the clumpy brogues of a downtrodden Cinderella or the Manolo Blahniks of a top PA, we'll love the woman who's wearing them if we can recognise something of us within her. Put your heart into your heroine. Give her dreams that we can share - does she want to keep her family together and happy, despite disaster? Or does her cool sophistication hide her fear of rejection? Make her real, make her three-dimensional, and your readers will like her too, and want to find out more.
AGE MATTERS: It's an inescapable fact that the majority of romance heroines are in their twenties. The reason for this is that as readers, it's quite hard to "think ourselves older". Many people start to read romances in their early teens. At that age, it's not easy to imagine your way into the head of a middle-aged divorcee with five children. You're more attracted to heroines who are at the start of their romantic adventures. As we grow older, we enjoy thinking back to what it was like to be innocent and in love for the first time, so the twenty-something heroine wins again.
LET HER GROW: The most engaging heroines are those who develop during the course of their story. That doesn't mean to say the love of a good hero has to change your central character from CEO of a multinational to a devoted housewife overnight (or vice versa). The realisation that forging a relationship doesn't mean sacrificing your individuality is an equally valid character development. For decades, real-life women have been told they can have it all but it isn't always easy to see how this can be made to happen. Fictional heroines can give their real-life counterparts insight into their own dilemmas - and of course everyone wants to believe in their own happy ever after.
Who is your favourite heroine?