H Is For Heroine #atozchallenge

H Is For Heroine

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

Anne of Green Gables. Little House on the Prairie. Little Women. To Kill A Mockingbird. The Diviners. Stone Angel. These books contain the heroines of my childhood and teenage years.

I suppose I have a favourite type of heroine, like I have my favourite story troupes. They can have hard or soft edges. Little education or a PhD. Be child-free or buried in babies. Geeky gamers. Rudderless or driven. They don’t have to be likeable 100 percent of the time. They make mistakes.

Fast forward to crafting my own heroines and the characteristics I like to explore.

Confidence: No surprise there. Confidence is incredibly appealing. It affects how we feel, our behaviour towards others, and the outcome of any undertaking. It creates a heroine who is more powerful, more in control, and more satisfied. They expect equality, cooperation, and respect whether they bus tables or run companies. Whether they run a daycare or a country.

Passion: A heroine can be down and out, discouraged beyond belief, have lost hope. But once that fire within has been stoked it allows her to live life, experience it, and claim it. She does not live a life of temperance. When she regales her grandchildren with stories of her past, her tales are met with wide eyes and open mouths.

Determination: There is no superpower greater than determination. She will let nothing stand in her way. There is no obstacle big enough, no danger great enough to keep her from her goal. From winning. Because who can afford to lose if the life of their children is on the line? Their patient’s life? A total stranger’s?

Jane Eyre1

Strength: Often the ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ response is a luxury they can’t afford. Someone has to be around to look after the kids, the dog, the house, the neighbourhood, the community. Women are the fixers. The multi-taskers. The gatherers. They can be the hunters. The thief in the night. They can be whatever they have to be to survive.

Commitment: They know the cost of responsibility and are willing to pay it. When all seems lost they do not allow the feeling of wanting to quit to overpower their commitment. There is no ‘taking your best shot’, there is only try harder.

Purpose: The foundation for all the rest of it. To know what they are to do and why. Not to be confused with wanting power over something or someone else. It does not need to be about conquest and supremacy. It is deeply personal. It is passionate. It is backed up with thoughts, words and deeds. It will be evident in how she feels, heals, creates, and shapes her future.

Check out other A to Z April bloggers.

Have a favourite heroine?

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If Character Archetypes Were Cupcakes

I love cupcakes, especially those fantastically decorated concoctions you find in bake shops all over the place nowadays. They’re selling like hotcakes. ha. All kinds of colors and flavors. And like crayons and paint come with some pretty imaginative names. On a short shopping trip last winter I discovered a mall kiosk called Once Upon a Cupcake. I snacked on the Snow White, a delicious coconut topped vanilla cupcake. But I could have had Prince Charming.

What if we created our own designer cupcakes based on Character Archetypes? However we develop our characters, whatever methods we use, they are the most important part of any story. The Archetypes mentioned here come from Tami Cowden’s Archetypes for Writers and Readers Workshop. Any well developed character is multifaceted. But everything is based on something. We decide the why.

Chase Porter – The Warrior Archetype – Salted Dark Chocolate topped with Silver Icing.

The WARRIOR: a noble champion, he acts with honor…

Lily Wheeler – The Nurturer – Raspberry Vanilla with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pink Sprinkles

The NURTURER: serene and capable, she nourishes the spirit…

Seth Stone – The Lost Soul – Black Forest Cake topped with a Chocolate Mousse Icing

The LOST SOUL: a sensitive being, he understands…

Kate Logan – The Boss – Lemon Meringue with Lemon Butter Cream Icing

The BOSS: a real go-getter, she climbs the ladder of success…

Caleb Quinn – The Charmer – Caramel Apple Flavored Cupcake with Chocolate Mouse Icing

The CHARMER: more than a gigolo, he creates fantasies…

Sophie Monroe – The Crusader – Chocolate Cupcake with Mint Butter Cream Icing

The CRUSADER: a dedicated fighter, she meets her commitments…

Tami Cowden’s Archetypes for Writers and Readers Workshop is worth checking out. Also, check out this article to delve into character archetypes from a different angle.

Do you have a favorite type of hero? Heroine? What cupcake would you choose?

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Is There a Secret Formula to Creating Strong Female Characters?

“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.”  Zig Ziglar:

Nope, no secret formula. But in my mind there are a few requirements.

Confidence: No surprise there. Confidence is incredibly appealing. It affects how we feel, our behavior towards others, and the outcome of any undertaking. It creates a heroine who is more powerful, more in control, and more satisfied. They expect equality, cooperation, and respect whether they bus tables or run companies. Whether they run a daycare or a country.

Passion: A heroine can be down and out, discouraged beyond belief, have lost hope. But once that fire within has been stoked it allows her to live life, experience it, and claim it. She does not live a life of temperance. When she regales her grandchildren with stories of her past, her tales are met with wide eyes and open mouths.

Determination: There is no superpower greater than determination. She will let nothing stand in her way. There is no obstacle big enough, no danger great enough to keep her from her goal. From winning. Because who can afford to lose if the life of their children is on the line? Their patient’s life? A total stranger’s?

Strength: Often the ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ response is a luxury they can’t afford. Someone has to be around to look after the kids, the dog, the house, the neighborhood, the community. Women are the fixers. The multitaskers. The gatherers. They can be the hunters. The thief in the night. They can be whatever they have to be to survive.

Commitment: They know the cost of responsibility and are willing to pay it. When all seems lost they do not allow the feeling of wanting to quit to overpower their commitment. There is no ‘taking your best shot’, there is only try harder.

Purpose: The foundation for all the rest of it. To know what they are to do and why. Not to be confused with wanting power over something or someone else. It does not need to be about conquest and supremacy. It is deeply personal. It is passionate. It is backed up with thoughts, words and deeds. It will be evident in how she feels, heals, creates, and shapes her future.

“Beauty is a true expression of who you are. The coolest girls are never the ones that have the prettiest face or the best bodies; they’re the ones with their own unique style and look. They are the ones who are true to who they are.”   Wendy Zomnir

There you have it. My take on heroines. I’d love to hear your thoughts or have you add to the list!

 

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Costume Changes

We all have a personal style. A way of putting things together that makes us unique. We all have a closet containing items we love, the one’s that boost our confidence. Those articles  of clothing that make you stand a little taller or sit a little straighter. Then we have the casual stuff. Maybe even the quirky. The pieces we need to make up our work wardrobe. Because of course I’m sitting here all nicely showered and dressed to make the most of my day. Not planted in front of the computer wearing a monstrous, seen-better-days, black cardigan and wrinkled pajamas.

Because that closet also contains the not so great choices. The cast-offs. The clothes that somehow shrunk in the wash and are now a bit tight. That rockin’ outfit from the eighties you’re hanging on to for no good reason. We do always dress perfectly. We all succumb to stop-and-grab shopping. Stacey and Clinton aren’t on hand to be our personal shoppers whenever we need them. If they were I’d never waste another dollar on stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time. We have good days and bad days and -there’s-not-enough-time days.

Just like our characters.

Some of my favorite fashion quotes from TV characters.

 “I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet.”  Carrie  Bradshaw, Sex and the City

“I get up at dawn to look this good!” Mimi Bobeck, The Drew Carey Show

“I say go with black. It makes you look all villainy.” Damon Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries

“Oh, no! Hipster. No. Do not think we are on the same team, we have nothing in common. I wear knit hats when it’s cold out, you wear knit hats because of Coldplay.” Max, 2 Broke Girls

When it comes to creating a character’s personal style it’s not only fun but necessary to emphasize personality. Every one of the characters quoted above can be considered over the top. Not only by what they say and how they act, but how they dress. Their style reinforces their personality. And a character’s style can change to enhance the advancement of the plot or the help showcase their character arc. Like us humans out in the real world, characters have their good days and their bad ones, often in extremes. How they dress or put themselves together can help reflect their state of mind.

Which takes me on a little detour into costume design? Besides the obvious fact of characters having to wear clothes and having those clothes be appropriate to the story and setting, I didn’t know  a lot about the process. I’m still a rank amateur. But I’ve picked up a few hints watching bonus reels.

Example: The 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice – The costume designer spoke about Mr. Darcy’s wardrobe and how uptight and buttoned up he was at the beginning of the movie. How they gradually loosened him up in terms of wardrobe choices and fabrics to reinforce the changes to his character.

Makes sense, right?

The following quote is taken from The Secret Lives of Costumes. It’s a great look into the world of costume design.

“I take my cues from the characters and their surroundings as written in the play, as well as from the stylistic choices of the production. In the same way that an actor builds upon the framework of traits and actions of his or her character in the story, I read what the character does and says for clues about what they might wear. I also need to think about how best to reflect a character’s evolution through the development of the story. Sometimes the character is best served by creating contrast between how a character behaves and what he or she looks like.”  Judith Bowden, Canadian Designer

It’s something to think about when creating characters. Or during the editing process when you’re busy adding in the interesting bits and quirks. We need to think about style in terms of character development, even if it’s not obvious or part of the plot. We all know Eliza Doolittle undergoes a transformation in My Fair Lady. Usually it’s not that obvious in terms of wardrobe. Using subtle changes can make an impact, too.

My current work-in-progress, Off the Grid, is a romantic suspense novella. It will probably end up around 25, 000 words. That’s not a lot of time. Every costume change counts. Dr. Sophie Monroe is a dedicated physician and activist. She doesn’t give a lot of thought to her fashion choices. Caleb Quinn has just been named one of Canada’s Top Lawyers Under Forty. He dresses with purpose and is impeccably groomed. it’s my job is to show how things fall apart and how they put them back together again. By reading up on costume design I’ve learned a few tips and techniques I can apply to the written word and how I can use it to emphasize these changes.

Do you love a certain TV character’s style? Have a favorite costume from a movie? Use wardrobe changes as a tool in your own writing?

 

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