Writing Strong Female Characters in Romance

posted in: The Craft of Writing | 0

I love an epic rescue!

It’s exhilarating to read a scene where the hero swoops in and saves the heroine. But for me, the plot is more compelling when the woman being rescued is intelligent and capable enough to save herself if necessary.

I strive to create powerful, female characters that readers will admire and support from beginning to end. Those fierce, self-reliant women come in many forms, all deserving of respect and admiration and aren’t limited by their gender or the societies they live in.

I strive to give special importance to showcasing my female characters’ intelligence, ambition, and independence, depicting them as strong symbols of power in a world that often attempts to pigeonhole women into stereotypes. I hope their persistence and courage makes my love stories more compelling and gratifying for readers who crave daring heroines paving their paths of self-discovery. I want to create stories that provide solace and motivation for those who seek moving tales with strong female-centered narratives that recognize women’s power and experiences.

Here are my tips for creating an unforgettable female lead in romance novels.

She has emotional vulnerability.

It is essential for any good character, male or female, to demonstrate an ability to be vulnerable and emotionally expressive. Building a formidable female character doesn’t mean reducing her to a cliche–she can be a hardened warrior who sheds tears for a fallen comrade, or a warm-hearted kindergarten teacher who relieves stress by kickboxing. People are complex and surprising creatures, so it’s only natural that your female characters should have access to the same wide range of feelings as anyone else.

She is in tune with and listens to her intuition.

She believes in herself above all else: about her looks, intellect, hobbies, skills, personality, and abilities. She never loses touch with who she is and what is right and wrong.

She is a self-governing person.

She may or may not be married or romantically involved. She can be in a loving relationship while still maintaining her own desires, personality, goals, and objectives. A woman of fortitude does not sacrifice her unique identity and potential when she is with someone else.

She isn’t perfect.

The clearest example of a strong female protagonist is one who has struggles and flaws but deals with them in an empowering way. No human is without weaknesses, and the same goes for these characters. These imperfections make them more realistic and likable to readers.

She’s tough and has steel in her veins.

Does this “toughness” mean the heroine simply relies on being able to defeat enemies with physical strength? Of course, not. It means she also has the capacity to think fast and astutely when facing pressure or dealing with powerful people. Female characters can exhibit a variety of strengths. They have the courage to put their views forward even when they are not popular. The intelligence to be detectives, scientists and doctors. The assertiveness to defend themselves against those who would ignore them. And the firmness of character to take a stand on issues that are important to them, guided by an ethical code of their own making. Women depicted in fiction are much more than just examples of their gender. And forget stereotypes. A stay-at-home mom can be as enduring as a soldier. Her role does not specify who she is as an individual.

She has friends. 

I’ve read several novels about tomboy heroines who primarily have male friends. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m a former tomboy myself, so I can relate, and I have an upcoming novel that includes a female protagonist and hero who have been best friends since kindergarten. Nonetheless, I believe it is equally important to show how female characters can gain strength from relationships with other women. By including these interactions in my stories, the heroine represents a relatable character readers can connect to. In my Coldiron Cowboys series, I adored writing about the tight-knit group of women who became stronger together.

She is resilient!

She has the ability to bounce back from adversity, to recover from setbacks and challenges, and to adapt to change. It is a crucial trait that allows individuals to face difficulties and come out stronger on the other side.

And the ways a heroine can demonstrate her resilience are limitless. The evidence of Eleanor’s tenacity in The Heartbreak Cowboy is in her decision to return to Santa Camino and confront her painful past. Despite the emotional pain and deception she’s faced, she dares for a second chance and a future with McCrea.

In The Fallen Cowboy, Mallory’s toughness is demonstrated in her battle to overcome past traumas and her fear of vulnerability. She shows strength and courage in facing physical danger and emotional challenges, and she learns to trust and love again.

Louisa’s (Breaking the Cowboy) grit is evident in her ability to forgive herself. By overcoming this hurdle, she’s able to move forward with a new sense of purpose and hope.

I hope the female characters in my novels demonstrate these traits in inspiring ways, showing readers that no matter how challenging the obstacles we encounter, we can always find the courage to overcome them and succeed.

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