Constructing a Character : How to Write a Heroine


The process of writing the heroine is the same as writing the hero. Both are on a journey that brings out courage and tests their quality of character. Both share similar definitions in the dictionary and both have annoying cliches based on gender.





Let’s expand on the definition and say…

  • Courage can also be defined by determination, adventurousness and fearlessness.
  • An act of bravery can be defined by a risk that is honorable.
  • Noble qualities in his or her character can be compassion, ambition, vision, ect.

Think like your heroine…

  • What fuels my determination and causes me to be fearless?
  • Why would I take this risk?
  • What is it that’s motivating me to help?
  • If there is a problem how do I solve it?
  • What resources do I have within myself and around me to solve it?

A common cliche is the heroine being a weaker version of the hero. Stereotypically where the hero excels the heroine almost manages to succeed.

I feel that character flaws like self doubt and fear are great for both the hero and heroine but the goal is that eventually through their journey they overcome them. Isn’t turning fear into courage what makes someone heroic?

There are many more options than the damsel in distress cliche.

For example the alien invasion plot presented in How to Write a Hero.
Let’s explore how we create the escaping heroine instead of the damsel in distress…

During the first wave of alien invasion the heroine finds herself in the middle of war. The local k-mart she works at has become an intergalactic battlefield. She takes up arms fighting her way out eventually teaming up with local towns people. In a desperate stand off between space monster and man they drive back the invaders and the town remains standing. But, wait! In a sudden change of events the heroine is beamed aboard an alien warship. Using whatever she finds in her pockets and her advanced knowledge in mechanics she escapes the alien laser prison and cleverly takes over the alien spaceship. Landing the ship outside town humankind now has the first piece needed in ending the space wars. 

This plot concept presents these key points:

  • The heroine takes a stand along side her fellow towns people
  • She uses her knowledge and skill to devise an escape
  • Escaping heroine instead of damsel in distress

Analyzing your own work and understanding what you’re trying to say with the characters you create and the story they inhabit is important. As well as looking at the cliches and stereotypes your characters have to deal with. It allows you to play with more ideas, add depth to their personality and tell a meaningful story.