Why we love strong heroines by Misty Evans

imagesLast month, I read Divergent, the hit Young Adult novel that was recently turned into a film (which one isn’t these days?) I enjoyed it, and am now reading the sequel, Insurgent.

Like so many strong female characters, young and old, the heroine, Tris, embodies many characteristics I love to read about. She’s ingenious, determined, and courageous. She’s also only sixteen.

So far, she’s been beat-up, dangled over a cliff and nearly plunged to her death, shot more than once, witnessed both parents being killed, had to shoot a dear friend, and has been poked, prodded, and experimented on by the enemy.

She’s one tough cookie.

While my sons and I were having coffee on the porch yesterday morning, I brought up the fact that over the years, I’ve read a lot of similar characters, many your average, everyday girl (or woman) thrown into unusual and very challenging circumstances. Some of the characters were completely unbelievable, because they had no experiences, training, or life circumstances that prepared them for all the physical, mental, and emotional trials they went through.

I don’t need them to be trained operatives like the heroines in most of my romantic suspense novels, but I do appreciate it when a character who digs deep for that precious combination of ingenuity, determinedness, and courage, finds it because they went through some trial or tribulation in their past that prepared them for what they’re going through now.

And then my son Sam said, “But Mom, as an author you know why most stories take an average character and make them superhuman, believable or not.”

I do?

“Why?” I asked.

“Because we all want to believe that we—the nobodies of the world with absolutely no skills—could get beat up, take a bullet, and keep going in order to save the world.”

“Besides,” he added. “It’s fiction.”

He’s right. On both counts. Many of us read so we can temporarily become the hero or heroine and save the world. And it IS fiction.

Yet, if the heroine is your average girl-next-door type, I’d like to know that the reason she fights back and nails the bad guy in the kidney with her elbow is because she had three older brothers who teased her and taught her how to fight. Or she took a self-defense class after she was mugged. Or, like Tris in Divergent, she picked the badass Dauntless faction and went through an initiation that taught her how to fight, shoot a gun, and wield a knife. The Dauntless taught her how to think like a fighter and act like one.

Bianca, the heroine in my work in progress (DEADLY FORCE) is an analyst for the NSA. She’s not an undercover operative or a field agent with tactical skills, so when an assassin comes after her, she doesn’t have a lot of choice but to seek help from someone who does have those skills and knows the art of evasion and survival.

But she’s no meek damsel in distress. She has a near-perfect memory, and while that would be a blessing for many of us and it helps her be an excellent analyst, it’s also a burden. She’s never been normal and had a tough childhood that taught her to be clever and resourceful when it came to survival. And even though she’s more likely to hit you with her laptop than shoot you, she does know how to use a gun and she’s determined to bring the bad guys to justice.

This month, Adrienne Giordano and I are releasing the second book in our Justice Team series, CHEATING JUSTICE. The heroine in this story is a trained sniper for the FBI. As you can imagine, she has some skills. While she does get beat up and shot at in the story, her biggest problem isn’t the bad guy, actually. It’s the hero. If you’d like to know more about Caroline and Mitch, hop over to the Justice Team Series FB page for the cover reveal today.

So tell me, readers, what do YOU like in a strong heroine? What qualities must she possess? What experiences from her past make her current drive to overcome her situation believable?

Or is it JUST FICTION and you don’t really care?

About Misty Evans

USA Today Bestselling Author Misty Evans writes the award-winning Super Agent series, as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy theories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When her muse lets her on the internet to play, she’s on Facebook and Twitter.
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7 Responses to Why we love strong heroines by Misty Evans

  1. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi Misty,

    Congratulations on Cheating Justice! I love reading strong women characters and a sniper sounds like a female Seeley Booth, so I’m so there wanting to read more about Caroline.

    I agree a big block for me is if Josephine next door suddenly has miraculous fighting abilities without background or learning them in the story. Karate Kid comes to mind. Strength of character is most important to me.

    • Misty Evans says:

      Hi Mary. Caroline is very Type-A like Booth! A great character to pit against my laid back hero, Mitch. He drives her bonkers. LOL. But eventually, he leads her to the dark side. mwhahaha 😈

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    Misty, congrats on Cheating Justice! Like Mary, I love reading about strong women, too. And like you, I need to see something that will make me believe they can handle whatever it is they’re thrown into. Like Katniss in Hunger Games. I didn’t read the book (I tried but it wasn’t for me), but the movie showed that she was a skilled hunter before she stood in for her sister in the first story. I believed she could win. And in Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series, Gwen, her heroine, had certain interesting skills in the first book, but she had to learn her fighting skills once she became part of the academy.

    I’m writing a sequel to Dragon Blues, and one of the two women main characters is a dragon turned into a woman. I’m not sure if I’m going to have fight scenes in this story, but if I do, her dragon background gives her a believable edge Well, once you get past the dragon thing. lol

    • Misty Evans says:

      Edie! I’m so happy to hear about the dragon sequel, since I really loved Dragon Blues. That should be a fun book to write! I can see your dragon heroine being all worried that she’ll morph and throw flames at the hero when her hormones go crazy. LOL.

  3. Amy R says:

    Congrats on the books and looking forward to both Cheating Justice and Deadly Force! I don’t think I have a preset list of attributes I look for in a heroine, but what I admire are the ones that don’t give up. Whether it is emotionally or physically. We all know what it is like to be exhausted emotionally and when we escape into a book we look for that inspiration to keep going and to fight through things. I hope I am never beaten physically and while I am not sure how I would do in that type of a situation, I like to think I would fight with everything I have drawing on some of the inspiration from the heroines I read about. I love your heroines, Misty! Keep writing them the way you do!
    Amy R`s last blog was …Review: IDENTITY CRISIS by Jean Hackensmith

    • Misty Evans says:

      You’re so sweet, Amy. Thank you for the support!

      You’re absolutely right, the heroine has to be tough enough emotionally to hang in there, no matter what happens. She needs a healthy dose of perseverance. A quality I adore! I once had a teacher tell me I had lots of perseverance and I had to look up the word. 😳 But from then on, I wore it like a badge! All of my heroine have to have it too.

  4. Misty, congrats to you and Adrienne on the upcoming release!

    Like you, I prefer my heroines realistic. It’s much more satisfying to me than if they suddenly exhibit amazing abilities out of nowhere.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Mistress of the Wind nominated for an IRC Best Book 2014 Award (with giveaway!)

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