Monday, 31 August 2009

The Change

No, I’m not referring to hot flashes. I’m talking about the moment when a heroine realizes she has room to grow. Perhaps she’s misjudged the hero, or learned that she can handle a gun or roomful of snarky snobs. There comes in every story, a moment when the heroine comes to a life-changing peak in her journey. We read for it. We wait for it. We live for it. Why? Because we can identify. Even if we haven’t gone through the trauma or joy of these moments, we know we might someday.

I think Elizabeth Bennet said it best when she observed, “Until this moment, I never knew myself.” If that doesn’t put a knot in your throat, you’ve never screwed up a relationship or a major chapter of your life. (So the time is probably ripe!)

Falling in love with a heroine is a platonic journey for most of us (grin). We love to read about women we either want to be, or would like to be friends with. Even those we don’t care for initially, we want and almost need for them to change.

A great heroine doesn’t have to be beautiful or have special powers. All we need is for her to conquer, and if that means conquering herself, then all the better. For some of us, empowerment is finding the man of our dreams. For others, it’s grabbing one by the collar and giving him a good shake until he sees straight. No matter how fanciful, the (romance) books we seek out reflect our life experiences or desires. By living through a heroine we can relate to, we may just find the courage to become more than we ever knew we could.

Writing TURTLE SOUP, my new release from Awe-Struck Books, I found myself thinking about my heroine a lot. Sara Hart is just plain average. She isn’t super talented or super hot, and she doesn’t carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. Sara simply enjoys helping people and doing her part to make the world a better place. I found that letting her have her dream--a deli in downtown Atlanta--when the story opened, allowed room for her to grow as a person throughout the story. Since she already had the accomplishment, the question became, how much did she really want it? What would she be willing to sacrifice in order to experience something new and unknown?

Believe it or not, those were questions in my own life I needed to answer.

Reading about a heroine is one thing. Writing, or creating a heroine is quite another. You can’t get mad and throw the book down. I had to journey along with Sara as she came to a critical point in her career, and I ached with her, too. Her courage and success were something we shared together. I was given hope. I was made braver. Heroines give us that. Isn’t it a part of why we love to read?

Both writing and reading TURTLE SOUP gave me something to smile about, but in many ways it meant so much more. I took one more baby step forward in conquering myself. And I couldn’t have done that without a heroine leading the way.

So here’s to your favorite heroine. And here’s to you, simply for having the courage to understand that we all have room and the capacity to change.



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Lindsay Townsend said...

Danielle - fascinating blog on heroines and those critical points of change we all experience. I'd never thought of it before, but of course, you are utterly right: if a heroine remains unchanged throughout a story, she is less interesting and less 'real'. You also show how important fiction and romance is in people's lives: by showing them others, by sharing dreams.

Thank you for a super blog!

Savanna Kougar said...

Danielle, what Lindsay said. I like to create heroines who change as a natural course of the story... and in how she takes charge of her life wherever she can.

LK Hunsaker said...

Danielle, beautiful post! I completely agree with the growth and "regular" aspect of heroines.

Love this: "A great heroine doesn’t have to be beautiful or have special powers. All we need is for her to conquer, and if that means conquering herself, then all the better."

StephB said...

Turtle Soup sounds like a good, character driven read. I could tell you really fell in love with your heroine, Sara. I think it's the "room to grow" and watching the actual growth which allows us as readers to connect to a character. Good post! Makes one think. Thanks, Lindsay!

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks to Danielle and everyone who took part in the heroine and hero weeks! Thanks, too, to everyone who read and who commented on the blogs!

You all rock!!