This month I'm sharing a helpful insight that I got from writer and editor James Hughes. He sent me Bitter Gertrude's "A Common Problem I See In Plays By Women Playwrights. It’s Not What You Think." The article, which is from a theater perspective, is on women early-career playwrights, but it applies to authors too.
Here's my question for you writers--in writing a story where the central character is a woman, how much does she drive the action?
This article rang a bell inside me--this is a push-pull I think a lot of women writers are saddled with, especially in romance. In the action/scene vs. reflective/sequel tug of war, romance falls heavily on the sequel side. Lots of emotion and thought. (Not so much for paranormal.) So romance is especially susceptible to a heroine who is reacting to the hero who actually drives the story.
How much does your heroine drive the action? Not respond to the action. But how much of the story is driven by what your heroine wants and needs?
Hughes sent me the article because he was editing the second novel I wrote, a dark paranormal about a man who sees the future and the woman who redeems him. It made me see the heroine in a new light--she spends a great deal of time--no, wastes a great deal of time--reacting to events, instead of meeting them head-on.
Don't get me wrong. In a romance, you need reaction. Emotional reaction is a biggie. But I want that emotional reaction to drive my heroine to solve problems and take action. My heroine should not throw her forearm to her forehead and emote while the world does things to her. My heroine should step up to the plate.