First things first… There is no such thing as perfect.
Back when romances began, readers could only find heroines who had the perfect “barbie” body. Blonde, white, tall, young and skinny.
Over the decades the romance community has slowly created a somewhat wide variety of heroines to choose from.
You can now find, heroines of almost all races, colors and physical size. Although, the normal romance is still a variation on white/anglo-saxon barbie.
Lately, this past decade has brought on the rise of the plus size heroine.
Maybe it’s because the average size women today are a sz 14/16 or maybe it’s because the majority of romance readers fall somewhere inside the plus size category themselves.
Whatever the reason, plus size heroines are here and I believe they are here to stay.
So, what kind of plus sized heroines are readers looking for?
- A woman they can relate to
- Someone who has flaws but doesn’t let those flaws hold her back
- A woman not afraid to explore her sexuality
What do readers NOT want to see in their plus sized heroine?
- A woman extremely negative with herself
- Someone who is bitter about being fat and how the world treats her because of it
- A woman who feels no man will ever love her because she is fat
Now, If you are a plus sized women yourself you know that we all have had these negative traits mentioned above at some point in our life. However, romance heroines are typically women romance readers strive to be. That’s why so many of them are the embodiment of “perfect”.
A perfect plus size heroine is:
- A woman who is fat but doesn’t let that be a negative in her life.
- Someone who wrestles with society’s beauty standards but still knows she’s beautiful and that beauty does not equal her worth.
- A woman who, though fat, still chases after her dreams and enjoys her sexuality
Now that’s we’ve covered both the positive and negative traits a plus size heroine can have here’s how to mix it all together to create the perfect plus size heroine.
Step 1: Read books with plus size heroines.
In order to excel in a certain genre you need to read that genre. Plus size romances, though not a genre or sub genre, are an entirely different species of romance. You need to read at least a handful of these books to understand what works and doesn’t work. How? Well, first off, pay attention to how you feel when you read it.
- Do you feel you can relate to the heroine? If so how?
- Do you feel the heroine is too focused on her weight? If so, how?
- Do you feel the heroine isn’t realistic? If so how?
More often then naught what stood out as a positive and negative to you was likewise a positive and negative to other readers. By paying attention to these things in other books you can be sure to add or eliminate in your own. Here is a list of plus size books on GoodReads to check out: Plus Sized Heroines.
Step 2: Ask romance readers what they want to see in their plus sized heroines.
You would think this would be an obvious step, like step #1, but so many writers forget to do this. They craft their characters in a way that they envision them but rarely ever see what the majority of romance readers are looking for in their next read. A way to avoid this mistake is to check out forums, groups for readers, and book blogs specifically for plus sized heroines and the readers that love them. One particular Facebook group that I enjoy is Curvy Girl Romance: For Readers Who Love Alpha Heroes and Curvy Heroines.
Step 3: Watch some movies/videos and listen to songs with plus sized women.
The best way to write about a certain character is to observe. (This holds true for characters of every race, size and physical makeup). Why do I think you should observe?
- You can watch how a plus sized woman carry’s herself. Is she insecure? Is she confident? How does that show in her body language?
- You can see how the world around her reacts to her size. Is she noticed? Is she discriminated against? Is she ignored?
- You can observe how she handles someone she is attracted to. Does she let him/her know? Is she too shy? Does she struggle with thoughts that she isn’t lovable?
- You can observe how a potential love interest views her. Does he/she see her as someone beautiful for a fat person or just plain beautiful? Does he/she let her size dictate how they show their feelings?
By doing this you will obtain a better understanding of how plus size women are portrayed in media and how best to describe your plus sized heroine and her story in the most believable way.
Step 4: Give your character depth.
- Break out a character work sheet and get the basics down.
- Fill out some character surveys to unearth her likes and dislikes.
- Dig deep into what makes your heroine who she is today and who you want her to be by the end of the book.
- Give your heroine real world problems and experiences so that she is real to the reader.
- Make sure you really think about the dreams and aspirations of your heroine and all the ways she might obtain them.
In the end it doesn’t matter if your heroine is a size 2 or 22 or even bigger, there will always be a reader out there just waiting for her to be created.
However, that doesn’t mean you can slack off and make a lack luster heroine.
All you have to do is pay attention to what you like, what readers are looking for, and what makes real people tick and your character will shine no matter the size.
Wednesday @ 9 am “A List of Plus Sized Heroines and the Heroes That Love Them“
Friday @ 9 am “A List of Plus Sized Actresses and the Characters They Portray”
- Do you have any experience reading or writing plus size heroines?
- What do you like/want to see more of with plus size heroines?
- What do you hate/want to see less of with plus size heroines?