Of all the tropes out there, I love strong female leads (with trauma), underdogs, and slow burn romance above all others. I write one or all of them into nearly every one of my own books and love when I find them in books that I’m reading.
And in the interest of seeing them done well, today I’m offering up tips on how to write them well.
Shall we start with one that’s become increasingly popular of late?
Strong female leads who have a history of trauma
If your MC has a tragic backstory, it needs to make sense. Trauma for the sake of trauma (or for the sake of clamoring to be relatable) probably won’t come across well. If her struggles are relevant to the plot or a sub-plot, the story will feel more natural.
There are many kinds of strength
Remember that bold, reckless, and in your face is not the only kind of strength. As human beings, women have the ability to possess many different types of strength. They don’t have to be rude or bitchy. There are much quieter types of strength.
Yes, fire is hot and fierce, but stone is sturdy and unyielding. Yes, resolve and a go-getter attitude is strong, but so is the ability to be compassionate under duress.
Give us a reason to root for them
Don’t just throw a two-dimensional character up against insurmountable odds. Give them emotion. Give them heart. Give them something compelling to fight for so that we want to see them succeed.
Give them at least some chance
The key to a good underdog is them coming out on top, besting their foe. But if the means by which they accomplish this are completely unbelievable, the story will fall apart. Give them difficult odds, not 100% impossible.
Build these characters into people who would actually fall for each other. Give them inside jokes. Fill their time together with fleeting glances and the excitement of wondering if the other person meant to brush their arm. Give them butterflies and heat.
A compelling reason for them not to tear into each other immediately
Give them all that chemistry… and then give them a compelling reason for staying apart at first. Maybe one of them is healing from betrayal and isn’t sure they can trust what they *think* the other person is feeling. Maybe one of them has a history of being a player, and the other doubts them. Maybe one is about to move across the country, and they weren’t looking for anything serious.
Just make sure it’s a good reason, that way it frustrates them and gets your reader really hoping they can overcome it.
Keep reading. Keep writing.
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