You may be like me and prefer to write and read character-driven stories.
Recently, my writing partners pointed out that I consistently write “coming of awareness and self acceptance” stories in an historical setting. The heroine is of prime importance to the resolution of the story question. Self acceptance transforms the heroine into an “indomitable” woman as she struggles with plot elements. She gains strength, wisdom and becomes empowered as she overcomes each challenge.
My writing partners also point out that my heroines, although living in historical times, could easily be transported to today’s world. Their type of courage is timeless. People struggle with the same relationship intricacies generation after generation. People face the same types of emotional highs and lows as their ancestors as they grow into adulthood, marry, and nurture children. They have aspirations. They endure despair. They are blocked while trying to reach their goals or make their lives better.
These universal events in the human condition tie us together with an understanding that spans the centuries.
That gave me an idea for this blog post. I decided to compare my medieval romantic suspense heroine, Matilda, and Sally Ride, the astronaut who became the first American woman in space (aboard the space shuttle Challenger). Both of these women ventured into the unknown.
Matilda (living in medieval Britain, a generation after the Norman Conquest) chose to leave her family and her home village to travel two days in a cart drawn by an ox and along roads infested by robbers to set up a life in her cousin’s village. All could have been lost on the journey. Sally Ride traveled into the unknown in a well-designed space shuttle and faced challenges where, at any moment, all could be lost. Matilda was moving away from the attentions of a brutal knight who wanted to marry her. Sally was moving toward her dream and the fulfillment of herself as a scientist and an astronaut. They both took journeys into the unknown.
Sally Ride started her own business to create educational science products to inspire girls. She inspired girls and young women to pursue their interests in science and math. Matilda, proficient in sewing and embroidery, sold her wares in the village market and willingly shared her knowledge with the village women.
Both faced enormous challenges when they started out on their journeys—one with the landscape and the criminals—the other the unknown challenges to be faced in space. Both endured condemnation by certain members of society. Matilda faced being ostracized in her own village for leaving instead of marrying, enduring an unhappy marriage and living the fate many women settled upon. Sally faced the rebuffs of those believing a woman had no role in space, would damage the mission and cause problems for the males on board.
Despite social rejection and other difficulties, both women remained true to their goals. As they met each challenge, they rose above the “average” and became “indomitable”. They are examples of courage and the ever-driving force of the human spirit toward a fulfilled life.
As you read various novels, do you ever find that the heroine reminds you of someone you know?
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