Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A little backbone, please!

When it comes time to do some rewrites, I'm going to need to comb through my heroine's scenes and make her more consistent. You see, when I started writing Light to my Path, my heroine was used to obeying, used to being told what to do, used to falling into line. This made sense to me, as she had grown up in an orphanage. She's used to living on charity, and in the beginning of my book, I had her take this as a matter of course.

After a few chapters of this, I realized she was completely spineless. If she didn't get a little backbone, she was going to sink this story. I'm easily bored by a character who allows life to happen to her instead of being proactive and making life happen.

What she needed was to be forced to take charity, but to long for independence. Circumstanced dictate that she must allow someone else to meet the needs of the children in her care, though that help comes from the last person in the world she wants to take charity from. The help needed to be a source of conflict.

An added benefit to this conflict is that it raises the faith-stakes for my heroine as well. How can she be independent and in control when her faith tells her that she needs to cast her cares upon the Lord and let Him light her path and show her the way she should go?

So, have you ever read a book where the heroine wasn't proactive? Did you like it? I've only read one that I really enjoyed, and that was Montana Rose by Mary Connealy. Mary set out to write a book where the heroine wasn't feisty, spunky, spirited, etc. to see if she could do it.


  1. I think you're right, Erica. Most readers enjoy a heroine who has a backbone. Maybe it's the ideal superwoman for romances! But women want something to aspire to in their lives, someone they can look up to. And so a character that is too weak, isn't as appealing!

  2. So cool you are working at it to make changes. I like strong MC's. They make me want to root for them all the more.
    ~ Wendy

  3. I just recently read a manuscript that had a passive heroine. She was actually growing underneath the surface though becuase of the conflicts around her.

    If there's not enough conflict outside to change that passive character, to really get them thinking and sorting through the circumstances, I don't know if it can work...it would be like anyone's ordinary life.

    Good luck with rewrites!!!

  4. The best example is Jane Austen's Fanny Price in Mansfield Park. It's a remarkable rendering of a heroine who is the opposite of proactive. She has nothing except a quiet goodness and steadiness. And it's interesting how Jane makes this work.

  5. I cant recall any spineless MC at the moment, but I know I have been afraid that my current WIP's MC has too much spunk. Seems like we can go to both extremes.

  6. Mary Connealy's MC in Montana Rose was the only one I could think of. Personally, I like 'em fiesty! ;)

  7. I NEED a character with backbone.
    Interesting that Mary has a book w/o.

    Speaking of strong characters, Cynthia Ruchti's at my place today.
    Would love to have you drop by and say hi if you have time.


  8. Yes, I've read a few books where the heroine wasn't proactive, and sadly I've probably written a few. LOL!!! Great post.