While you don’t want to bog down your novel with too much backstory, it’s wise to include some intriguing information about the heroine’s past. We’ll strive to present her as being universally appealing; someone readers will readily care about. We begin our story by making Marsha relatable to the average reader by having her experience something a bit daunting at an early age. This should be something most readers have done themselves. For example:
Now that you’ve endeared Marsha to the hearts of your readers, further emphasize what she has in common with the reader by showing her achieving something happy and triumphant, yet ordinary. For example:
Readers will want Marsha to be complex enough to have experienced both joy and tragedy in her life. Nobody wants to read about a spoiled little rich bitch girl who’s had everything handed to her on a silver platter. But nobody wants to read about some wretched, pitiful, woe is me heroine who’s had one preposterous calamity after another, either. Crafting such a heroine may result in brutal…
So the key word to remember is balance.
So far we’ve shown Marsha bravely facing the unknown as she is squeezed, crushed and covered with uterine glop while propelling down the vaginal canal and out into the bright lights, noise and overwhelming sensations of the world, only to be slapped on the ass and have her umbilical feeding tube hacked off and left to dangle from the spot which will become her bellybutton. You’ve succeeded in showing the reader that even though Marsha is shocked, confused and mildly horrified, she’s truly happy to be alive.
After taking the reader through the initial ordeal of Marsha’s birth, allow the reader to take a deep breath and relax as we show Marsha experiencing some jubilant childhood memories.
Astute readers may have noticed that we’ve given Marsha her very own adorable catch phrase, or special saying: “Oh my God!” This makes her even more huggable, as does the addition of a favorite pet…
And a couple of favorite toys…
At this point in the novel, readers are feeling relaxed and tranquil, so it’s time to grab their attention with something entirely unexpected. In this case, we’ll make it a family picnic. Little Marsha is happy to the point of being gleeful because, not only does she get to spend time in the forest with her wonderful parents and darling doggie, but she’s also treated to what she perceives to be a giant version of her favorite stuffed animal who’s come to frolic with her and her beloved family.
Readers will no doubt appreciate the way we’ve deftly shown how a child’s perception can be quite different from reality. Little Marsha is really quite endearing and believable in her charming naiveté--so much so that you’ll catch your glued-to-the-page reader off guard with the subsequent events.
As you can see, we have succeeded in crafting a scene purposely designed to hook unsuspecting readers, making them sob uncontrollably. The parent/puppy-dog devouring event, while gritty and tragic, is wholly believable. Remember, it’s important to keep your characters and what happens to them based firmly in reality so readers can relate.
By cruelly and savagely ripping Marsha’s darling parents and pet from her life, we’ve provided our heroine with a sumptuous buffet of possible psychological problems, including a mortal fear of stuffed animals. Readers will delight in worrying about the orphan’s future as poor little Marsha grieves, ponders her existence, questions the fragile fabric of life, and tests her faith in God and humanity.
In search of truth and meaning, the troubled teenage Marsha justifiably experiments with marijuana and becomes a pot head.
Due to Marsha’s mental instability, the cannabis, generally considered safe and benign, becomes a gateway, leading Marsha to partake in a plethora of recreational drugs, such as magic mushrooms, ecstasy, crack, cocaine, heroin and meth. She attends rehab repeatedly only to succumb to using nonstick cooking spray as an inhalant and eating dried nail polish while in residence. Unfortunately, this really fucks up Marsha’s head, leading her into a dark and dangerous time of her life.
With Marsha’s sad descent into prostitution, we’ve cleverly managed to incorporate elements similar to the popular Pretty Woman movie with Julia Roberts, further capturing the attention and allegiance of our readers. Although Marsha sells the use of her vagina and other orifices for money, readers are still sympathetic because she has the ubiquitous heart of gold and because her pimp leaves her with so little income it’s difficult for Marsha to survive from one trick to the next.
To keep Marsha likeable and relatable to the reader, we must remove her from the harsh, sleazy world of whoring. We can accomplish this easily by making one of her johns a wayward priest who kindly, and most gratefully, counsels her while she’s busy providing him with oral satisfaction.
Thus, Marsha begins a new phase of her life.
Thankfully redeemed from sin and inequity, Marsha devotes her life to God, eschewing all worldly pleasures and possessions. She now lives a life of solitude and celibacy. Clearly, this is not an ideal situation for a romance heroine because most romance heroines are not nuns. An easy solution would be to hook Sister Marsha up with Father Peter, her former john, but a skilled romance writer should avoid opting for the obvious and predictable. Instead, we’ll use this opportunity to deepen the plot.
Still burdened with a multitude of emotional scars, Sister Marsha finds it exceedingly difficult to adhere to her vow of silence, breaking it often to gossip with the other nuns about who’s been seen sneaking into Father Peter’s room after dark. Once again, we’ve reminded the reader that Marsha is just like them, weak, flawed, sinful and in need of help. Since breaking a vow of silence isn’t enough to get Marsha kicked out of the nunnery, as skilled romance writers, we must devise a bigger, better, more delicious sin to cause Marsha’s ultimate fall from churchly grace.
Yes, just when readers who may not be former nuns are doubting they can truly relate to Marsha, we capably entice them back with the mother of all relatables: chocoholism. It’s a rare reader who can’t sympathize and relate with being a chocoholic. But the avid romance reader won’t be satisfied with chocoholism as a significant problem in itself because the love, appreciation and, yes, even idolatry of chocolate is too pleasurable to induce any measurable sympathy in the masses.
We must now saddle our heroine with a truly horrifying predicament that will leave readers on the edge of their seats at this new, unforeseen twist.
This is an ingenious twist because even naturally skinny readers, those who have never had a weight problem, those who may even be fat bigots, will still find themselves sympathetic to Marsha’s gluttony and resulting obesity because it’s clearly not Marsha’s fault. With the horrific death of her parents and dog, her slide into drugs, her career as a specialist in anatomical gratification, and her shameful fall from churchly grace, poor hapless Marsha is left with nothing else to use as a safety net in her life. So it’s perfectly understandable that she would turn to the comfort of food and become a pot-bellied blimp.
Most readers, however, won’t be drawn to an obese romance heroine, and they certainly won’t believe a hero who’s not a chubby chaser will lust after her. That means we have to remedy Marsha of her overt beefiness by turning her into a struggling yoyo dieter who eventually tries every diet on the planet, losing untold tonnage only to end up gaining it all back plus more--until she finally finds what she believes to be the perfect solution.
Caution is needed here. If we’re not careful, we could find weight-challenged readers resorting to bookwallage since they may find our heroine attaining a fashionably thin size zero a giant turn off, not to mention a ridiculously improbable result of dieting. So this is the perfect time to introduce a new, heart wrenching dilemma for the now bony-assed Marsha. The heroine’s longtime use of diet pills suits the situation perfectly.
This works perfectly because few readers feel a connection with a perfect heroine. Once Marsha’s obesity was resolved and she became scrawniliciously attractive, the average reader could no longer relate. Readers would soon forget Marsha’s previous struggles and find themselves focusing only on her skeletal perfection, which may cause them to think she’s become a conceited bitch, unworthy of finding true love with the novel’s eventual hero. Savvy readers and writers know the dire possible side effects of pharmaceuticals, so having Marsha’s liver fall out is both believable and engaging.
Since it’s unlikely that Marsha can survive without her liver, we must resolve this slight hitch. Putting her on the liver donor list could make the story drag on indefinitely so, instead, we will deviate from the conventional by employing creative medical liberties. The scene will be written to show the emergency room technicians stuffing Marsha’s liver back up into her vagina, and sewing it into place using mesh to secure the vaginal breach so the liver won’t fall out again in the future.
Because hospitals are ideal places for romantic scenarios, we’re going to build on Marsha’s regrettable liver accident by making it necessary for her to remain hospitalized during liver regeneration procedures. This includes Marsha taking a battery of liver regenerating medications that come complete with…
In Marsha’s case, she not only suffers most of the side effects, she is also stricken with a common hospital-borne flesh-eating bacteria, creating a pesky new problem.
We’ve done it! We’ve succeeded in crafting the ultimate perfect heroine! By now, readers are enthralled, gripped with suspense, eager to learn, positively dying to know, if dear, sweet, long-suffering Marsha lives or dies. If she lives, will she need a face transplant? Will the mesh repairing her vaginal breach remain in place after her first use of the bedpan? Will she ever get her well-deserved chance at love? And if so, will the mesh prevent her vagina from being accessible for sex once she meets her romance hero?
It is at this point in our story, romance writers, that the novel’s hero first enters the picture. Is he a doctor? A patient? A priest coming to give Marsha her last rites? A well-meaning visitor who makes the mistake of bringing her a stuffed teddy bear? Will the hero be shocked and horrified by Marsha’s hideous melting face? Don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to make certain to keep your readers mesmerized!
Watch for the next exciting and informative installment in this course: How to Create the Ideal Romance Novel Hero
--Super Earthling…roger wilco, over and out
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