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Yin and Yang

Monday, August 06, 2007
As I said yesterday, this idea of balance hit me out of the blue. I was thinking about heroines I like. My favorite heroine is the “fish out of water” type. An ordinary person in an extraordinary situation. I love those. But I also have on my bookshelf a number of titles featuring the “kick-ass” heroine. Those ladies rock. They take chances that I would never dream of, as an individual or an author. My brain doesn’t seem wired that way.

Then I started thinking about why I prefer some kick-ass chicks to others. Why some resonate with me and some make me cringe. And I realized that my favorite action stories have balance and it’s not all about the heroines giving up some vital aspect of themselves to be the “girl.”

Let’s take, for example, Eve Dallas. I’m a JD Robb fan, though fairly new to the stories. I’m sure I’ve skipped a few, but I’m pretty well caught up on her exploits.

Eve is not soft. Eve doesn’t know how to be soft. She never has been and she never will be. But JD/Nora was smart enough not to pair her with a man who is her equal in harshness. Roarke provides the balance to Eve. He is not, himself, soft in any way, but he provides the means for Eve to experience the yin to her yang. He understands the balance that’s necessary for her to be a whole person.

Another writer who gets it right is Marjorie Liu. Not all of her heroes are violently kick-ass, but she’s written her share. I love them because they’re often incredibly primal, but in that state, they instinctively understand that all of life is not about power and strength and beating the living shit out of the other guy. They find balance. My first experience with her writing was as part of the Crimson City series, A Taste of Crimson. Her heroine, Keeli Maddox, was a powerful player in the werewolf hierarchy that Liu built and she had several opportunities to kick ass in the story. Yet, for all her power, Keeli had things around her – not necessarily within her – to provide a balance to the harshness of her life.

So even if a heroine is completely focused on being tough, I think the best stories build in a set of circumstances that provide a cushion – some sense that this character can be a whole and balanced person, at ease with all sides of herself.

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8/06/2007 09:25:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 4 Comments


Interesting. I've been thinking a lot about heroines myself lately.

By Blogger Kristen Painter, at 2:14 PM  

Great posy.

By Blogger Eva Gale, at 11:01 PM  


heh. feckin gnomes on the keyboard.

They meant POST. Yeah, that's it.

By Blogger Eva Gale, at 11:02 PM  

LOL Eva. I thought, Did I talk about flowers?

Thanks, Kristen.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 11:23 PM  

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