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The Powerful Heroine

We’ve talked about TSTL heroines before and about kickass heroines and the characteristics that bother us about them. Today I want to talk about the powerful heroine, but it’s not a specific characteristic. As you know, a couple of weeks ago, I attended the RT Booklover’s Convention and one of my favorite workshops was a panel on contemporary romance.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips said something amazing (well, lots of amazing things, but this one stuck with me). She said there’s a reason that a lot of those early Harlequin romances were popular, i.e. The Secretary and the Shipping Magnate. Everyone fell for these books because this little secretary managed to conquer the big strong shipping magnate. She had power.

I never thought of it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. I’ve said before that I don’t generally read category romance (Harlequin books) mostly because they’re shorter. I have read some and just because they’re shorter doesn’t mean they’re easier to write. In my opinion, they’re harder to write (but maybe I’m just long-winded).

As I was looking through my file of blog ideas for what to write for today, I came across this post on Disney Princesses. It’s pretty long, but it uses the princesses to describe the dating scene for women. The first lesson – Don’t be a Doormat for Guys is the one that inspired this post. The author uses Snow White as the example for that lesson.

Thinking of Snow White made me think about the new movie Mirror, Mirror.

Mirror, Mirror is a new version of Snow White where she is not only active in deciding what happens to her, but she’s downright aggressive. Plus she saves the prince twice. Although in the movie she has strength and ability, she has to learn. She’s not a kickass heroine. In fact, in the beginning, she’s a mouse who’s so passive it’s kind of sickening.

I like the idea of a strong female character who can conquer the hero or the bad guy and still be kind of normal. Hence, the secretary with the power.

It never bothered me to let my daughters watch the Disney princesses because I don’t expect my girls to view them as role models, but I definitely like the new version of Snow White better. I like that she stands up for what she believes in and is willing to fight for what is right.

Then, serendipity struck after I drafted the beginning of this post. August McLaughlin wrote a post on her blog about Cinderella. Normally, I would’ve included her in my Friday Favorites post last week, but I knew I would be posting this and it fit right in. She looks at Cinderella as a metaphor. She muses that we all have a little Cinderella in us. It really is a beautiful concept, not to mention the wonderful song she includes.

Who is your favorite strong heroine?

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First Kisses

One of my first posts a couple of months ago talked about being a bad kisser. Today I want to talk about excellent first kisses. I think most people have experienced the good, the bad, and the so-so for a first kiss. But I believe that sometimes, it goes beyond being good, deep into WOW territory and that’s the kind of kiss I look for, especially the first kiss, between my characters.

I read a lot of romances because it’s a great way to take a break from my work and my writing, while still keeping my brain engaged. I’ve read about all kinds of kisses, but I find that most kisses between the hero and heroine fall into one of two categories: the passionate – hard and fast, or the sensual – slow and gentle.

Neither kind of kiss is better than the other. They both serve their purpose. It boils down mostly to what fits the characters. I’m in the middle of revising one manuscript while I write my current WIP. I find myself rereading those early scenes, the first kisses because they feel off. Part of it, especially in my WIP, might be because I don’t know my characters as well as I think I do. Are they passionate or sensual?

I think I tend to go for the sensual by default. It’s my fallback kiss. But the more I go through revisions, I think I might have to ramp things up to suit the characters. I have one heroine who is flighty and fun and one that is worse than a stick in the mud. (In fact, the hero often accuses her of having a stick placed elsewhere. 🙂  )

Then, I went back to my list of YouTube videos to use in this post and I got lost. I went back and searched some more. Really tough work, let me tell you, watching steamy kisses for hours at a time… Anyway, I digress again. What I found in looking at all those videos, is that while my supposition about the two types of kisses seems to hold up, it also looks like more often than not, that first kiss is of the slow and sensual variety.

Which made me think some more. Maybe it fits that the slow kiss is the first kiss. Both people are kind of seeing what works, hoping not to get shut down. Then I thought about times when the harder, more passionate kiss might come into play (other than when heading directly for the bedroom). I think if the characters have a history and the sexual tension has built up enough, I think that’s where the hard and fast kiss comes in. Maybe they’re friends-turned-lovers or they are lovers reunited.

Either way, it definitely makes me look at my characters more carefully before I have them lock lips.

Here is a cool collection of kisses (one of many I looked at) for your viewing pleasure:

What do you think? Is the first kiss between the hero and heroine based more on the characters or on their history? Do you have a preference for the type of kiss you like to read?