posted on August 18, 2015 by Jeanne Devlin

What Kind of Heroine Speaks to You?

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Even as a little girl, I was pretty sure the world was comprised of basically four kinds of women, or heroines.  There was the strong-willed tomboy, the spoiled beauty, the soft-spoken matron, and the ephemeral martyr/saint.

And then, I read Little Women.

Little WomenIt took just the first four paragraphs of Little Women, for what became one of my very favorite novels to confirm my suspicions:

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

“It’s so dreadful to be poor!” sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress.

“I don’t think it’s fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all,” added little Amy, with an injured sniff.

“We’ve got Father and Mother, and each other,” said Beth contentedly from her corner.

Mr  Darcy and Elizabeth BennetNow maybe it wasn’t crystal clear in that first moment, but as the pages to come quickly revealed the rug-sprawled Jo to be a lover of books and words, a girl possessed with a can-do attitude, an inquisitive mind, and a quick and witty tongue I knew what kind of heroine would always speak to me.

As the years passed and more novels read, I came to love Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables and Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet and even eventually the latter’s modern-day reincarnation known as Bridget Jones.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that all my favorite fictional heroines share a propensity for speaking their minds and the ability to surprise the men in their lives and make them laugh.  These women rarely possess more than a comely feature or two—their beauty resides in their beautiful minds.

Yet men are drawn to that, and to their confidence … to their sense of self … to their integrity.

Bridget JonesThanks to authors like Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austen, I spent my life looking not for the most handsome boy on the block but the one with the most fascinating mind—never doubting that he would favor me over others, because my favorite authors had assured me that there is someone out there for each of us, someone who will have eyes only for us.

Such fellows have their own definitions of what makes a woman comely.  Maybe, it is eyes that flash with passion.  Maybe, dimples that only his wit can evoke.  Maybe, a mind the equal of his.

I like to think the best romance authors are wise enough to write stories with heroines and heroes such as this.  Stories that entertain, yes, but stories that also quietly remind us to stay true to the best in ourselves . . . Stories that—in an age of narcissism gone wild—dare to suggest that working on one’s character is more likely to bring love than chasing the perfect nail color or hair extension.

How about you . . . what heroine speaks to you?

 Jeanne Devlin

Jeanne Devlin

Jeanne Devlin

Jeanne Devlin is editor of The RoadRunner Press, an award-winning traditional publishing house based in the American West. An editor of newspapers, magazines, and books for more than thirty years, she has also worked on national marketing and publicity campaigns with such publishers as Simon and Schuster and St. Martin's and for a number of New York Times bestselling authors, including Robyn Carr, Sabrina Jeffries, Debbie Macomber, Linda Lael Miller, and Wendy Corsi Staub. A graduate of the Stanford University Publishing Course, Jeanne is a member of the Children's Book Council, the National Book Critics Circle, and the Oklahoma Center for the Book of the Library of Congress. She also consults with boutique publishers.

2 thoughts on “What Kind of Heroine Speaks to You?”

  1. WE read the same books and have the same ideas. I am more interested in my hero and heroine’s minds than their looks, both when I read, and when I write. For me intelligence and humor are the turn-ons.

  2. jmdevlin says:

    You sound like a kindred spirit! I credit so many of those heroines for helping me become the woman I am. Wish the same for the young women coming up.

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