Guest post: how to write a modern heroine by Aimee Duffy.

Today, we’re lucky enough to have a guest post from romance author Aimee Duffy. She’s got some wonderful advice for all of us who are trying to make our writing stronger. Thank you, Aimee, for being with us!


Romance and the Modern Day Heroine

Not many people these days want a doormat and the female protagonists grabbing the spotlight today are anything but. So how do you create your own modern day heroine?

We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘the hero carries the book’ and that might have been true five years ago, but think again. With the rise of go-getting, sexually experienced heroines with high powered careers in today’s romantic fiction, these women are giving the big bad alphas a run for their money.

So who is she?

Anyone and everyone. Delve into the sea of Pop Culture where reality television stars are plumping out the pages of your favourite gossip magazines. A good heroine would be a woman who could take a verbal lashing from Lord Sugar, walk out of the boardroom with her head held high then come back the next week and make him choke on his words.

What does she do?

Here’s the kicker. Subject to a few exclusions (male underwear model included) women are taking the career world by storm. They’re doctors, sports therapists, footballers – in fact, there’s not much women can’t do when we put our minds to it. Why should our leading protagonist be any different?

What kind of story is she in?

This is where we have to get creative. The old tried and tested plots still work and sell, so how can we fit our power suit wearing heroine into a marriage of convenience? Arranged marriages are few and far between – and something our heroine would never agree to! – so where do we find inspiration? Television, real life and gossip mags are the perfect sources. A-listers and movie stars still pair up for publicity and that is a plot your heroine will feel more at home in.

Can she go after what she wants?

Absolutely! She can be as wild and daring as she likes as long as the reader believes the motivation. So if you have a heroine who wants a baby without the hassle of a man in her life and she happens to get that through a one-night stand, bravo. Just make sure the reader can sympathise with her decision.

Where to start

When you’re putting together your character bios, keep those doormat personalities in the last decade where they belong. Don’t create a woman who might wither under the alpha hero, make her strong and confident enough to bring him to his knees!

She’ll need flaws of course, everyone has them . Her character arc should follow her journey and by the end of your story she should change for the better with help from her hero. BUT remember the changes shouldn’t be triggered because of who she thinks she should be for the hero.

A while back I had the idea to write a trilogy starring three room mates. These girls were going to be all about their careers and I wanted to capture strong, independence and confidence in the New York dating scene. My first book in the trilogy, What a Girl Needs, is about Shey Lopez – an assistant editor of one of the biggest fashion magazines in the city.

When it comes to dating Shey has rules put in place to keep her life hassle free, she just didn’t expect Calvin Jones to come along and turn that upside down. Not unreasonable, she’s willing to compromise a little but she’s in the relationship for herself, for her own desires and doesn’t bend to his will at all.

What's a Girl to do 1

You can find out more about the story here:

You can find Aimee Duffy on the web here:


Twitter: @aimeeduffyx


The Perfect Character; Not so Perfect?

You’re reading a book. The protagonist is a female, tall, willowy thin, beautiful, kind, caring, compassionate, smart, with a high-paying job she loves, and a loving husband. She is sweet and honest, and never fights with anyone. She doesn’t have an addiction to chocolate, and she never drinks too much wine.

At this point, you’ve probably chucked your book at the wall, right? Here’s the thing about writing fiction. Your character cannot be perfect. No one wants to read about characters that are perfect; they WANT bad thing sot happen to your protagonist. On top of that, your character will be uninteresting, and your conflict will be harder to sustain if you don’t throw in a few flaws. So what do I mean by flaws?

Sure, she can have a crooked nose, or a stutter, but that’s not really what I mean. Your character has to have at least one deep-seated psychological flaw. Something deep, internal, something that will fight against her every step of the way. This is where your back-story will come in handy; you’ll need to figure out what happened to her to make her have that flaw, or it won’t be believable.

What are some of possible flaws? Lack of ability to trust people, fear of new situations, fear of asking people for help, fear of looking stupid, fear of showing who you truly are, fear of relationships, etc. Did you notice all of those flaws are based in fear? Personally, I think that those are the most effective ones. You can always use flaws like being arrogant, or being prejudiced etc, but those flaws can be harder for your reader to accept. No matter what anyone says, EVERYBODY has something they fear. The trick is to mine those fears, exaggerate them, then give them to your character. That’s what will make readers identify with you protagonist and keep turning the pages.