My Kind of ( ) is a series of posts about my particular taste, the things that get me wound up in narrative. I always know them when I see them; the types of characters that seem like they’re speaking just for me, the settings that send me into daydream-land for weeks, the twists and plots that make me stay up late and miss work the next day. Up next? Heroines.
If My Kind of Hero was about doubt and courage, my kind of heroine is all about loyalty. She’s loyal to herself, first. She knows who she is, and doesn’t apologize for that. She is confident in her skills, without being abrupt or rude, and she’s a willing teacher to those who show the proper respect. She’s motherly or sexy as she chooses, but never bitchy.
People don’t flock to her, begging to be near her. They just know she’ll be there when they need her, and she always delivers. She may be a mother, a sister, a sexy detective, it doesn’t matter. But she cares for her own not passionately, not insane hulk-out-ragey like an animal after its young, but with quiet determination. Caring for her own is a given, and her loyalty is a gift. Her major staggering points are when she fails them, or they fail her.
She’s confident, calm, and cool under pressure. She’s smooth, never needy, but still an emotional creature of needs and wants. She’s loyal to her own goals, before those of any other. For me, the best written heroines aren’t written as women. They’re written as people first, as fully-fleshed out as any male character, as driven, as deep. Their motivations aren’t just weddings and children. Their motivations are as faceted as those of any man. Sometimes their machinations are political, or interpersonal, or they’re ambitious or wounded. They aren’t simple creatures, not one-trick ponies. They resonate.
She’s rarely a heavy hitter that comes at a problem straight on, but her brain is always working, finding the chinks in the armor, the weak spots, the unprotected flanks. She’s the one with the knitted brow, the frown, the constant a-ha moments. She isn’t snap-judging and reacting, she’s working it all out, looking for the pattern and the weave in events. She’s logical without being robotic, and emotional without being hysterical.
She’s tough but flexible, finding ways through and around obstacles. Her reactions are smooth, soft like water, but unyielding like stone. Question her abilities and she doesn’t push back. She doesn’t have to. She is perfectly calm while she demonstrates her skill, proving her worth without hot retort or witty banter. She doesn’t have to be a bitch to be right, and she doesn’t spend all of her time scoring points off male characters. She’s not about reducing male characters to one note, any more than she could be reduced herself.
My kind of heroine is a rock when all around her is sifting sand. She’s her own best asset, and she uses all the tools at her disposal. I always know her when I see her- she’s the one who silently, steadily handles the business at hand, a calm island of Cool when things get crazy and hot.
So tell me about your kind of heroine. Who is she? How do you know her when you see her?