I just finished a novel in which half-a-dozen characters told the heroine she was so strong. “You’re so strong!” “I wish I could be like you, you’re so strong!”
Yet, from my vantage point as lowly reader who read what felt like pages and pages of the heroine crying and whimpering–yes, whimpering–I wondered what planet they were from. Maybe they spent entire novels crying and whimpering in which case a few pages might seem like strength. However, I suspect that’s not the case.
Indeed, if hard-pressed, I didn’t find the character particularly strong. She was average to below average. I felt like the author was trying to convince the reader that her heroine was strong by having other characters say that she is strong. Maybe most of her readers accept this. I don’t. I know what I’m reading and interpreting, and it isn’t strength regardless of what other characters say.
So, yes, I understand. You want your heroine to come across as feeling and yet strong. However, pages of crying doesn’t do that. And let’s drop the whimpering altogether unless she’s physically hurt.
My feeling is that I would write this character with a steel spine, but vulnerable enough to let tears flood her eyes. Maybe she cries once because she feels things so deeply, but I’d be more likely to let a few tears fall from her eyes than let her outright cry…unless it’s over death. If it’s death, it’s a flood. Noah, here it comes. Sorry, that’s just the way I am.
Also, I felt that the heroine’s viewpoint was wishy-washy. I may review this novel soon, but I’ve been holding back because there is a rant-worthy topic which has its basis in religion disagreeing with science, and I’ve been trying ever-so-hard to be good. 🤨
I know a lot of you are writers. Tell me how you might make a character strong yet vulnerable. Let’s dialogue!
Categories: Writing Reader Observations