Hero or Heroine: Who Carries the Book?

May 2, 2012

I received a wonderful rejection the other day. An editor passed on my manuscript, but in doing so, she told me she liked my voice and that I showed potential as a romance writer. Why’d she pass on the manuscript? Because she had a problem with my heroine. And this editor isn’t the only one.

This particular manuscript has been submitted a few times. Out of those three submissions, I’ve received two rejections with personalized feedback. Both personalized rejections named the heroine as the problem. The first time an editor passed because the heroine was “unlikeable.” I tweaked and twisted the story to give the heroine a personality boost. Now, the heroine’s conflict has been deemed too weak, causing the heroine to seem too flip. *head to desk*

The funny thing—or not so funny thing, depending on how you look at it—is that I’ve always had a bit of a problem with the heroine. She’s just not right. But I’ve spent two years on this manuscript. I’ve constructed, deconstructed, written, and rewritten to the point that I have several versions, some which no longer resemble the original story. Ugh! I don’t know what to do. Is this the point where a writer tosses the manuscript aside?

For now, I’m putting this story away, which pains me because of all the time we spent together. But the time wasn’t wasted. I’ve learned a ton from that one manuscript. One of the things I learned is that I have to pay attention to my heroines as much as a pay attention to my heroes.

As a reader and a writer, heroes drive my enjoyment of a book. I will stick with a story to the end as long as the hero carries me there—even if the heroine isn’t my favorite person. Is that odd? Maybe. Maybe not. But odd or not, it’s getting in the way of my pursuit of publication.

So, while I tuck another manuscript under my bed, I’m moving forward with the knowledge that it takes two for more than a tango. It takes both the hero and heroine to make good impressions when it comes to selling a romance novel.



6 Responses to “Hero or Heroine: Who Carries the Book?”

  1. taristhread Says:

    I think my heroes tend to drive the story as well. But then, why wouldn’t we pay attention to the hunky guy in the story? I’m trying to build a stronger heroine as well. So although you’re tucking that manuscript away for now, maybe you’ll build a stronger heroine in the next book, and somewhere down the line you’ll be ready to go back and re-tweak the heroine under the bed…..

  2. I don’t write romance novels but trying to create a heroine is perhaps difficult because you don’t want her to be too like yourself and so you kind of pull your punches a little. Does that make sense. My rejection slip vary between liking my main protagonist but finding the plot too thin and vice versa as you can see on my blog

    • It makes perfect sense. And in some situations, the heroine is so different from me to begin with, it’s hard to understand her motivations.

      Thanks for stopping by, and good luck with your writing!


  3. I don’t write romance but in horror/paranormal I think the concept is the same. I have a hero and a heroine and I don’t think one would work without the other. I want the reader to like them both, even if i expect the female readers to love the hero a little bit more, I also need them to warm to the heroine as she is the narrator. Definitely not a waste and maybe you will go back one day and make her the heroine you want her to be.

    • Thanks, Lindsey. I like your last line: make her the heroine you want her to be. It got me thinking that I’m not sure who that is yet, and that’s a true indication that I need to spend more time getting to know her better.


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