Ten Habits of a Strong Heroine

Ten Habits of a Strong Heroine
By DiAnn Mills

Whether my source of entertainment is a novel, a movie, or a vibrant play, I want to experience a strong heroine. She’s fixed in my mind long after her role is finished. This enigma challenges me to understand her, and when I think I have a handle on her personality, the real work comes in.

We writers long to develop a complex heroine who has the same gumption while being totally feminine. A tough project!

But not impossible if we’re willing to do the work.

The following are ten ways to expand a female character into a heroine who leaves a dynamic legacy.

  1. Build a heroine who has a credible backstory that motivates her into action. Show how her past experiences grew her mentally and spiritually, propelling her into a remarkable main gal. 
  2. Establish a feminine heroine and assign her a meaningful name that fits a startling story world. She’s not a woman in a man’s clothes.
  3. Incorporate a heroine’s physical attributes into her character. Include how the physical world affects her behavior, goals, strengths, weaknesses, and flaws in her character.
  4. Discover her physical problem or goal, and why it matters to her and the world around her.
  5. Create a well-rounded character psychologically. This means enhancing a distinct personality and ascribing great communication skills. She’s a character who experiences realistic emotion and uses the lessons of the past to form who she is today.
  6. Unearth her internal struggle(s) and how she will triumph over the issue(s).
  7. Provide reasons why your reader will care about the heroine and why she is the only character who can play the starring role in the story.
  8. Ensure she is never a victim. She may have been victimized in the past, but she survived and now she’s on guard with anyone who exhibits harmful traits. The heroine is focused on the world around her.
  9. Show how the heroine uses her skills and acquires new ones to journey through her story and be successful.

  10. Drop her into a story in which her goals and how she reaches them captivate a reader.

The heroines in today’s novels, no matter the genre, must have the ability to take care of herself while entertaining us with a powerful story. What traits do you think are essential for a strong heroine?

 
 
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

She has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

Tips to Clean Up Your Manuscript Through Editing

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Remember the Beatles tune “All You Need is Love?” If that sends you into the world of a sixties’ flower child, you can view it here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBbHxPIiPN4&spfreload=10

So what does this Beatle song and soap have to do with writing?

All You Need is 🎵 Soap?
 
Actually it’s more about rewriting, editing, proofreading, and brainstorming to clean up a story so that your readers Love, Love, Love it.

Back to cleaning up your story. 

SOAP Says It All!

S – Software. Text to voice software is my favorite editing tool. I can hear the errors and see them while I follow along. This is like a virtual critique partner that helps me clean up my manuscript. I use GhostReader for Mac – http://www.convenienceware.com/ghostreader and there’s a version in Adobe for Mac and Word users – http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/search/index.cfm?term=text+to+voice&loc=en_us

O – Online sites provide links to editing tools. Here are a few suggestions: https://www.grammarly.com, http://www.writersdigest.com, www.acfw.com and many other fine organizations and websites offer editing helps.

A – Audience. Consider your target readers. Is your story true to genre and brand? Have you written your best story to entertain those who love your writing?

P – Passion for story motivates a writer into action. Fall in love with your story. Take your characters to dinner and interview them. Have they been completely honest with you? Maybe their plot needs tweaking. Proofreading makes a great story squeaky-clean!

You might be humming the Beatles tune by now, or you might be taking SOAP to your story. Clean up now and then clean up at the bookstores! 

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

 

Does Your Writing Lack Life?

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

When I think of a flatline writer, I think of a bowl of cooked spaghetti—limp, colorless, tasteless, no energy. It’s been submerged into boiling water and didn’t survive. None of us want to fall into that category when we can take steps to stay strong and avoid the vat of despair.

No one wants their story to be rejected!

Where’s the flavor?

What happens when a writer realizes her career isn’t shaping up to what she dreamed?

How can we ensure our manuscripts are fresh, filled with vitality, and eagerly read?

Let’s take another look at the lifeless bowl of cooked spaghetti.

1. Sometimes all a bowl of spaghetti needs is a little seasoning. It’s amazing what salt, pepper, and basil can add to the dish. When we sprinkle our manuscripts with a fresh edit, reach out to guest blog, or create an engaging Pinterest board, we add small but significant ways to apply zest to our careers.

2. When we have bad results, we take the time to evaluate the brand of spaghetti we’re using. Maybe a new brand or promoting the one we’re using will give us better results. Is a website redesign necessary? A smart writer evaluates what she is doing and how she is progressing.

3. Does your spaghetti taste blah, overcooked or undercooked? Adjust the cooking time and taste the results. What about your manuscript? We writers can get into the habit of turning out work much too quickly, and the quality slides down the garbage disposal. The opposite is true too. If a writer overthinks every word and sentence, creativity suffers. An under-edited or over-edited manuscript lacks   freshness and originality. 

4. When we rush with our recipes, we can be forgetful and omit a simple step like draining the spaghetti. Spooning out excess water is like watering down a manuscript with too many adverbs, telling phrases, passive verbs, redundancy, weasel words, shallow characters … Need I say more?

Creativity make cooking and writing a delight!

5. Creativity in our cooking endeavors means experimenting with different sauces. Perhaps a little olive oil and pesto is all you need, or a rich tomato sauce with chunky vegetables, or a creamy cheese. Exploring writing techniques adds dimension to our craft. Follow teaching blogs. Attend a conference. Seek out a critique partner or group.
 

6. Promoting
our culinary success means sharing our recipe techniques with others. A
writer who gives back to those who are serious is blessed with respect
and integrity.


How have you kept yourself from being labeled a flatline writer? Share your thoughts so we all can learn.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

Hit and Run Emotions by DiAnn Mills

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

While driving back from the grocery store, I was hit by a truck and the driver took off. The emotions I experienced were shock, anger, and a twinge of fear. The latter one was probably because I write suspense, and my mind always goes into story mode. But the truth is, fear often results from the unpredictable and suspicions from those who harm us.

Are you guilty of hit and run emotions?

The same applies to the characters in our stories. What happens when a writer has a character encounter a traumatic incident and there’s no reaction? Or what happens when a character responds to a minor incident with drama-queen emotion?

Both scenarios can destroy a reader’s reality check and toss the reader out of the story. Future purchases from that writer are nil. Sad, but true. Not much opportunity for a second chance when there are so many writers competing for our attention.

To avoid hit and run emotion in our stories, we can take steps to ensure our characters’ reactions to events are met with responses that are in character, realistic, and slide into genre.

In Character
For credible emotion, we writers must thoroughly understand our POV characters. This means taking time to develop their personality, unique traits, and backstory. A character who handles anger by stuffing it may logically end up with an ulcer. A character who deals with anger by breaking noses may need anger management classes. The first key to overcoming inappropriate reactions lies in characterization.

Realistic

Many writers keep a journal of the happenings in their lives and how they reacted. It’s been said that if a writer is unwilling to seek resolution to life’s explosions, then the writer will never be able to write about those same emotions effectively.

Dramatic reactions to small incidents initiates skepticism in the reader, unless the writer is gifted in humor. Even those stories must be crafted with care. When a hero or heroine appears callused to tragedy, displays an absence of wit or logic, or is over-the-top in dialogue, readers no longer care about the character or the story.

Don’t hit the reader with a drama queen!

Genre 
The many genres provide us an opportunity to show our stories through a variety of techniques. The criterion dictates the story world’s dialogue, culture, goals, setting, and symbolism. The seven universal emotions stated in Tonya Reiman’s,The Power of Body Language are surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, happiness, and contempt. Every POV character experiences these emotions according to genre guidelines. Here are a few examples:

Contemporary: Today’s world is filled with instant information from various communication devices. Problems arise from dealing in a world where change is the norm. A character is continuously assaulted with situations that involve coping devices according to traits and backstory. Contemporary characters filter a whirl of happenings through their personal data bank of their past.

Historical: The past is known for its slower pace of living. Communication from local,
national, and worldwide events shape the future many times before the character learns about them. Culture and gender often dictate how a character receives and processes emotion.

Romance: Romance is an emotional adventure. This aspect of novel writing can be woven into any genre. A thread of romance invites a reader into a dreamlike world of fresh and breathless love.

Create emotions for your fantasy world.

Speculative:This genre has a broad range of categories from fantasy to sci-fi. Here the setting and culture blends with character to show how emotion is received and processed. Because the story world is unusual, how a character views emotion is according to the writer’s discretion.

Suspense: Suspense can be written into any genre, much like romance, but the character’s reaction to a state of anxiousness or uncertainty with a blanket of fear leads the character down a path of uneasiness and often apprehension. Heroes and heroines walking through suspense are survivors who have learned to manage and compartmentalize their emotions in a way that is healthy and believable.

Hit and run emotions. We writers don’t have to be labeled with this criticism because we understand the power of character, reality, and genre.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure.
She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.


DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.


DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.