Tuesday, April 17, 2012


When you write about women, what do you think about? Or maybe I should ask, who?

I know some of us on this blog often use actors as our inspiration for our heroes. We may post a picture of our favorite actor on our desk so that we can use it in our descriptions. Sometimes it’s not the actual actor, but a character he plays. At other times, it’s a compilation of several actors in one hero. For whatever reason, I need to see a picture of my hero in order to create him.

But where do we get our inspiration for our heroines? And does being a woman writer have anything to do with it? For example, while I’ve heard lots of authors talk about their hero inspiration, very few have ever discussed where they get their heroines (at least, not with me).

I know in my case, obviously, as a woman, I’m more familiar with how a woman thinks, feels and desires, so therefore, I often need less artificial inspiration for my characters. I don’t need to look at a picture and I don’t often get inspired by actresses for my characters.

In my head, I don’t create my heroines in my image, but I might create one who is a more perfect version of how I perceive myself. I can create a heroine who behaves how I wish I did in certain situations. She might respond to someone in ways I wish I could. On the flip side, I might picture how I’d do something and then do the exact opposite.

There aren’t many, but there are some male writers in romance and I’d love to know how they create their heroines and if they base them on real women or women from their imagination. In the meantime, what do you do? Do you create your heroines in your image? 


  1. What an interesting question, Jen! My heroines, so far, share specific life experiences with me, an inner write what "we" know. I wonder if prolific authors keep mining their pasts for things, or if they are just great observers of people.

  2. I don't use pictures of actors before I start writing. I have my own mind-image of both the hero and heroine (and usually the secondary characters too). Sometimes I may later see pictures and think 'That's how I imagine so-and-so', which is what happened once when I saw a poster in a shop window in Dublin and knew immediately that the man and woman modelling Guinness sweatshirts were exactly as I imagined Jack and Abbey in 'Fragrance of Violets'.

    In the same way, my heroines create themselves in my mind. They're not based on me or on anyone I know. They develop as 'themselves' as I write the first draft. Difficult to explain but somehow they simply take on their own personalities.

  3. That is so interesting, I almost always have a picture I use to represent my hero, but I hardly ever have one for my heroine.

    Most of the time, I know my hero much better than my heroine when I start writing. She tends to develop as I go along.

  4. Ana, I often write a specific experience into my books, but not usually more than one. Sometimes I create scenes that play out how I wish they would in real life.

    Paula, that's really interesting. I have their personalities set in my head (at least the basics) but I usually need some picture of the hero in order to depict him. I don't seem to need anything of the heroine, which is why I asked the question.

    Debra, I'm similar to you. My hero is usually better formed starting out than my heroine.

  5. I'm the other way round, Jen. I can 'see' my characters, but their personalities develop as I get to know them. That applies equally to hero and heroine. Once they meet, I have them both in my mind's eye. In way, it's a bit like when you read someone else's novel and get your own visual image of what the characters look like which, in many cases, can be nothing like the characters shown on the front cover!

  6. Oh that drives me nuts! If there are going to be people on the cover, I want them to at least resemble the characters!

  7. With His Leading Lady, the heroine was fine but the hero wasn't as I imagined him (but he was okay). With Fragrance, it was the other way round, the hero was right, but the heroine wasn't really how I imagined her.
    That's the thing with small publishers though,they have to find 'stock' photos for your cover and as long as they look reasonably okay, we have to go with it.
    Am now waiting for the cover for my May release.
    BTW if you want to see the covers of my early releases back in the 60's and 70's take a look at my website. At that time, there was NO author consultation on the cover at all, at least not from Mills and Boon. You got the print copies of your books and that was that!