In corporate interviews, it’s advised by recruiters to put a positive spin on every question that’s asked. So if a hiring manager wants an admission of what a candidate’s “weaknesses” are, the potential employee is coached to say something like, “I’m always having to be told to get out of the office and take some vacation!”
Part of my “day job” involves interviewing people, and it’s always aggravating to encounter a candidate like that. First of all, I’ve been around the block a few times and those kind of answers just don’t fly with me. I press a candidate until I get an admission that’s something more closely resembling the truth. But more importantly, the “answer that’s not an answer” has the opposite effect on my impression of the candidate from what she’s hoping. Instead of me viewing her as the perfect potential employee, she comes off as seeming insincere and frankly, not someone I’d want to hire. Because, really, who the heck wants a perfect person?
My feelings regarding perfect heroines are exactly the same. Perfection? Nah. Sure, I view myself as the heroine when I’m reading the story, so there’ve got to be several qualities that make her awesome. In truth, those awesome qualities are often described in her physical appearance. Romance heroines are generally quite beautiful if not drop-dead gorgeous. They come to us readers with beautiful eyes, perfect teeth, and flawless skin in tow. And, of course, they’re SKINNY. Oh, I mean lithe. Waif-like. Whatever. The truth is, I’m mostly OK with the pretty outward appearance. What drives me bananas is when her “flaws” are something innocuous like her tendency to worry too much about the hero. Seriously?
What I find interesting is a truly flawed heroine. We see that frequently with the hero. He’s scarred from the war and is bitter and dismissive. Or he’s an insanely wealthy jerk whose softer side finally comes out when he meets the heroine. But what about a flawed heroine who genuinely has issues? Why is it that we don’t see her very often in romances? Honestly, I’d like to read about someone with real-world defects. A woman with some honest skeleton in her closet whose journey in overcoming her flaws – and the man who helps her do it – brings me to tears and compels me to cheer her on. I don’t expect my heroine to be a closet serial murderer for whom I should muster up sympathy over what drives her to kill, but even that to me is preferable over a heroine who’s as pure as the driven snow, who is without imperfection of any kind, and who is as identifiable to me as a robot. I want my dashing hero to love my flawed heroine, warts and all.
What do you think? What “flaws” would you like to see? I’d love to hear about them. In the meantime, have a great weekend!