Women sometimes get a bad rap for not caring for each other. For saying one thing while feeling or even doing the opposite. Just as often, women get accused of caring too much, of not keeping their distance in various situations. We’re often ready with advice, but hesitant to take it.
Those same factors often come into play when we’re reading women in fiction. Female heroines come under fire for being flighty. For going too far. For being too soft or too tough, too easy or too hard to get.
Authors and readers are welcome to develop their own opinions when reading. Each writer and reader bring their own perspective to the characters on the page. One life experience may leave a reader with zero tolerance for a heroine who can’t stick by a decision. Or if a reader’s feeling out of control, a heroine who acts first and thinks later might be just the ticket.
Many times when I’m writing and I want the reader to connect with a character’s choices or dilemma, I remind myself to show that in actions rather than simply making a statement. Actions supersede mere conversation and on the page, actions almost always trump description for the reader.
It’s a lesson taken directly from real life.
Advice is one thing, having a friend compassionately share their perspective based on a similar experience means so much more. In a crisis, a real friend is the one who comes running regardless of the time of day or the clean up involved.
Most recently, a friend of mine – my veterinarian actually – became a walking testament as a compassionate female heroine in our lives.
Our oldest greyhound was diagnosed with congenital kidney issues when he was two years old. This past week, at the age of eleven, he lost his battle with kidney disease and my friend was there for us through every step of this challenging and emotional process.
Out of the compassion and dedication that makes her such a great vet, she came to our home. She brought an ice cream sandwich for Brody and spent time with each of the pets in our ‘domestic petting zoo’. She had me relive happy memories, even recounting the day Brody came to be part of our family (a story she knows as well as I do).
Her genuine concern for every member of my family (human and otherwise), is a gift I will treasure the rest of my days. And her depth of compassion will find its way into my work and my characters in numerous ways as my real life experiences enrich my craft as an author.
Live the adventure!