Behind the scenes: On writing ‘likeable’ heroines

Note: This is the third of six posts going behind the scenes of my writing process — what inspires me, the way I work, and how I recharge. For links to the rest of the posts, scroll down.

I have a type. I love writing heroines who are smart and strong enough to rescue themselves.

They might need a friend or lover to hold up a mirror and show them the reality of their situation, but once they see the problem, they don’t rely on someone else to fix it for them. They take action.

Learn to love yourself

Personal growth is the perilous quest I send my characters on. If they’re lucky, they’ll fall in love along the way. But before we’re well-equipped to love others, we must love ourselves — which means we must know ourselves and see ourselves clearly. Yes, flaws, too.

Some fiction focuses primarily on outside forces keeping the hero and heroine apart. Insurmountable obstacles keep two otherwise compatible people tragically separated — until the plot takes a sudden left turn, and the road ahead lies miraculously clear.  Sometimes, outside influences are what bring our would-be couple together. A scary threat forces them into close quarters, and once the threat is defeated, bam, insta-love becomes happily ever after!

Let your soul awaken

I’m more the inner flaws kind of writer. The hero and heroine have made choices that have led their paths to cross, and if they work on becoming the best selves they can be, perhaps they’ll walk the same path from that point forward.

Blame the philosophy major that resides in my head. She’s always pushing the characters to examine their lives and do better.

Going behind the scenes

See the end result of M.Q.’s focus on personal growth in the Neighborly Affection series and the Gentleman series. Her next book is An Accidental Gentleman, out August 16, 2016.

M.Q. Barber

M.Q. Barber is the USA Today bestselling author of the Neighborly Affection contemporary romance series. She's also an inveterate, unrepentant scribbler of ideas on whatever's handy.

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