Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Sweet, Sensual, and Sure

We've all read about the archetypal females. I won't go into that. I'm just going to share an observation or two.
In two of Nora's trilogies, the woman are split into the above categories: sweet, sensual, and sure. This really rang true as I'm reading the third in the "Key" trilogy again. (On a sidenote: I've also read a James Patterson and Kay Hooper in the past two days. I was jonesin' for a read. Back to business.)
Mia(Three Sisters) and Mallory(Key) are the sensual ones. Every man within four miles embraces them as the girl they'd like to take to bed. Beautiful. Oozing sensuality.
Ripley(TS) and Dana(Key) are the sure ones. They'll knock you on your ass and grin down at you. They're cocksure and impulsive. Prone to fits of temper. Girl-next-door. The connotation being: when you get these two in bed, it's going to be a wild ride.
Nell(TS) and Zoe(Key) are the sweet ones. Nell ran from an abusive husband and into her destiny. Zoe worked her ass off to be a good single parent and give her boy everything he needed. The men in the stories want to protect them. The nice thing about this being, both woman can pretty much protect themselves. But when they do realize they need help, their collective men are waiting.

Real woman are not just sweet, sensual, or sure. We're all of the above. Authors tend to take one strong characteristic and play on it. And when they give us a peek of another one, we're dazzled. To see the "sure" woman have a moment of vulnerability. To see the "sweet" woman unleash her temper when she's been pushed too far. These moments stick out in her minds as we read their stories.
Women are not one-dimensional. Even the bitches have different layers of who they are and what they are made of. And that's when we need to explore every angle of our heroines.
This is something I work on in my writing. Find out the "why" to your characters. Talk to them. And though they may drive you buggy(AKA batshit) at times, it's imperative.

The archetypes are loose guidelines. They are not the be-all and end-all. They are simply starting points for authors. Give your heroine strength but balance that with a weakness. Well-rounded characters will play in our subconscious for a long time after that final page is read. And that is what we, as authors, strive to do.
And though you're heroine might start out as sweet, sensual, or sure, don't leave her there. Give her faults. Give her feeling. And for God's sake...give her life.


Silma said...

Never read the archetypes. Never cared. Humans are too complex for labels.

Jill said...

We are complex, thankfully! Great post.

username said...

I just try to write nicely flawed characters that anyone can relate to. *g*

chryscat said...

Silma: Yes. They are. It's too bad some people don't realize that. They like everything compartmentalized. *snorting*
Jill: Thanks so much!
Kel: Those are the best kind.

Michelle said...

I love sure women. They are fun heroines, and I have more of those on my keeper shelf. But I think you can bring life to a character when you show her other side.