Sunday, September 9, 2012

What Makes a Memorable Female Hero In a Novel??? .

Last week my two older sons came home from college to break bread with us.  During the meal, the subject  of female heroes came up. When I asked which were among their favorites, the boys named Vasquez (female Marine) and Ripley (M.C.) from  the movie Aliens.  Others ranged from The Kill Bill series featuring Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) to Underworld,starring Kate Beckinsale (I'm sure her pleather suit didn't hurt anything either). After determining my son's definition for "Cool as Hell,"  I deduced that the character's physical and mental strength, combined with their fierce  independence, were qualities that most appealed to my boys.  

Interestingly, when I asked hubby (who is an avid reader) and my sons (sometimers) to name female characters from novels they liked, no one could think of any.  (Though, hubby did say he'd heard good things about Lisbeth,  M.C., in the novel, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson).  

Their inability to name a heroine from a novel threw me for a loop.  Why would female characters on film captivate men (at least the ones in my household), when those in press did not?  After a long debate on the subject, I concluded that there are two reasons for this disparity.  First, there is a considerable difference in the time it takes to read a novel compared to watching a movie.  The latter takes two hours to get through, give or take thirty minutes, while a novel takes anywhere from 8-20 hours to read to the end.  Secondly, In film, the audience watches the plot unfold from a distant third POV,  which keeps them from knowing the main character's inner thoughts.  In stark contrast, a book requires the reader to experience the story through the eyes of the M.C., forming a deeper bond between them.  Unfortunately, my husband found it difficult to identify with female characters in novels and therefore, steered away from them..

 I'm aware  not all men share my husband's views, but I suspect there are many out there who do. If I am correct, then it is likely the female hero in my book (a supernatural thriller) may not appeal to a lot of male readers.   This got me to wondering how does an author bridge the gap between heroines in film and those in press? What traits or characteristics in a heroine from a novel would appeal to both sexes?  Although I only spoke to men in my household, I'd like to expand my questions to other male's and any female readers with insight about this topic. I'd be interested to know what you  think. Until next time, happy writing.