What Traits Make For A Good Romance Heroine---By Roz Denny Fox

First and foremost a romance heroine needs to be someone any other woman would like to be. And it’s a given that she has to be someone a hero can love.
She’s a woman who isn’t afraid to go after something she wants.
This woman succeeds because she’s the person she is.
Here are some traits romance heroines have in common:
a.    A capacity to love
b.    A degree of practicality
c.    A sense of humor
d.    Is a caring human being
e.    Can admit her fallibility
f.     Can apologize when she’s wrong
g.    She is loyal and likes loyalty in others
h.    She is passionate---about many things
A heroine doesn’t have to be beautiful, but she needs to be comfortable in her own skin and because of that other people see her as beautiful.
A heroine needs to be an interesting person who is multi-dimensional
At this point you might ask—if this woman is such a paragon, why doesn’t the hero instantly love her?
Because the very nature of a romance story that keeps readers reading romance books is that romance heroines operate from a premise that faith in the human heart can overcome the harshest reality. Romance heroes operate in reality, but from a standpoint of cold facts such as a fear of intimacy, suspicion of people’s motives, or even scoffing at blind faith in the beginning. They do come around, because underneath the strongest of heroines lies a component of a nurturer. It’s a trait that tugs at the core of the most flawed hero. Heroines nurture from the strength of love which makes them so appealing to alpha or beta heroes.
Once, Jude Devereaux said something in a talk that stuck with me. She said of romance heroines and heroes--beauty and virility doesn’t last for twenty or thirty years. By the time readers close our books we must have shown them that our characters possess traits that will keep them together for a lifetime. It’s their inner characteristics and personalities that let them ultimately work together and work things out, leaving readers with the understanding this couple has what it takes to truly live happily ever after.  I’m sure you all have lists of traits you work with. I’d love to hear what some of them are.


  1. Wow, Roz! You covered it all for me!! The imperfections in a character are what fascinate me too- I want to know what is holding them back, what they need to learn in order to have a lifelong love. For me, this usually drives the story as I tend to imagine characters and they share their love story with me- I pretty much just take dictation- lol. Your post is amazing and so helpful that I'm going to copy and paste it for my writing tips folder and refer to it often! Thanks for this wonderful post, it's a gift romance writers who are just starting out like me :) have a great weekend!

  2. Karen, I just got back from my morning walk and we are going to have a beautiful day. Something about sun in the early mornings makes writing easier for me. I'm such a fair weather person. BTW, my files are filled with years of wonderful tips from authors who were at this business long before me and were wildly successful. In my down times I still go back and re-read scribbled notes and the like. Our Tucson RWA chapter writing meeting is tomorrow. I always get jazzed when I'm able to gather with other writers.
    You have a good weekend, too.

  3. Very nice. Someone once wrote in an RWR article that they wanted the heroine to be her sister. I always want her to be a girlfriend, and I guess we do want our friends to have those qualities. :-)

  4. Once again, Roz, you’ve nailed it, succinctly and clearly.
    It seems to me in a romance the H/h discover not just each other, but something inside themselves as well. She will have to have all the qualities you list, but she may be hiding them from herself as well as from the guy she’s attracted to. For example, she may resist the temptation to apologize when she’s wrong or refuses to admit her fallibilities, because she thinks they show weakness. The man of her dreams will have to draw her rethink her attitudes, etc. Great source of conflict between them, but ultimately she’ll love him all the more for giving her an insight into herself.

  5. Ken, thanks for dropping in and adding to the blog with a bit of the male perspective. It's always good to have the heroes act the way a man would act and not, as Linda Howard once said, like a hairy woman. LOL

  6. Roz - well said. I'm teaching a one-day class at the local college in summer, so I, too, am cutting and pasting for future use. My favorite characteristics for a heroine are her indefatigable (sp?) belief in tomorrow, and a sense of humor because so often in life those are all we have. I think also, that the hero's practical side responds to that even against his will. And that'll become love everlasting!

  7. Muriel, how great that you're teaching a class(on writing fiction?) this summer. That would be scary to me, but my career really got a serious boost when I took a creative writing class at a community college where I later went to work for one of the deans. In that class I met some women who were writing romances. We formed a critique group and eventually everyone in our original group published. Of our original 4, I'm the only one still in the business. I just know you will set a whole new group of writers on their paths.

  8. Great list Roz. I also love heroines that have faults, maybe even one significant one that makes her very human and also possibly adds to the conflict. Too perfect characters drive me crazy, I'll admit.

    Denise A. Agnew

  9. Denise, I've enjoyed the books of yours that I've read, and you write strong heroines. Making sure they have a human fault in some cases is a valuable addition to the list. Thanks for popping by/

  10. Aw, this is lovely! Pete and I were talking this morning about how the characters in an HBO series all want grand gestures to prove they're loved, and how that makes for good drama on TV but doesn't compare to the kind of love that lasts day-in-day-out through good times and bad.

    It's nice when we see characters who have not only the dramatic excitement, but also the capacity for sustained love. Like yours. :)

  11. I agree. Faults make the heroine real. Overcoming faults, even more desirable. Awesome post.

  12. Hi Roz, Great list of character traits for the heroine. Sherry in THE BOSS NEXT DOOR has many of those that endeared her to me (and of course to Garrett. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Thanks all you guys for posting. Syndi's blog spurred me to go out today and buy some spring flowers. Don't kill me you Arizonians if the weather suddenly turns bad.
    Sandra, I'm glad you are taking the time to read The Boss Next Door, you busy lady.
    Even happier that you like it.

  14. Hi Roz,
    I agree with your list. It serves both for heros and heroines.

  15. Thank you Roz for the wonderful informative list on traits for the hero or heroine. I too am going to copy and paste it into my files.

  16. Hi Roz,
    Sorry for the late comment-I was away on a birthday weekend:)
    I think your post describes perfectly why the Heartwarming line is successful. Because we cannot rely on a lot of physical attraction and hot love scenes to form connections between the characters, we have to develop a deeper lever, deeper characteristics within the hero and heroine to show true love and commitment and why their union will work:) Love it!


  17. Excellent post, Roz. I plan to cut and paste as well. This is the kind of helpful information that can help when you hit a bad spot. thanks.

  18. I need to keep a file of wonderful advice like this too. Thanks for sharing!


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