Cookie Cutter Heroines?

When I was plotting the second Demon Hunters book, one of the things I had to be really careful about was my heroine.

With heroes, they’re all fairly similar, at least the ones I write. As a woman and as a writer of romance, I know what I want in my hero. He’s got to be damn good looking, capable, heroic, of course, but with flaws. I don’t like perfect men and I don’t want my hero to be perfect either. But my heroes are all very alpha–no betas or gammas for me. And that’s a blog post for another day.

My heroine in Surviving Demon Island is a kick ass adventure seeker. I love Gina Bliss. She’s probably the number one best heroine I’ve ever created. She was strong, yet vulnerable when the situation called for it. The test for me in writing Hunting the Demon was to be sure NOT to re-create Gina Bliss when creating the heroine for the second book. Yes, my heroine in the second book is also a demon hunter, so she’s going to have to possess certain traits similar to what Gina had, otherwise she wouldn’t cut it as a hunter.

But she can’t be exactly the same character. She can’t have Gina’s strengths and Gina’s weaknesses. She can’t have Gina’s sense of right and wrong, Gina’s turn-ons and turn-offs, or Gina’s physical prowess, because the heroine’s background is different. And I had to remember that as I wrote Hunting the Demon. And believe me, if was a tough thing to do, because I loved Gina so much. But I found myself falling in love with this heroine, too, because she’s completely different, yet she has different strengths and weaknesses….softer ones, yet they’re incredibly strong in their own way (yes, I’m being purposefully vague here for a good reason. I don’t want to give away the plot to the second book)

Too often I see writers create the same heroine over and over and over again, especially if a writer is creating the same type of books – paranormals for example, with strong female lead characters. It’s an easy trap to fall into because as a reader I love a strong female lead character in a paranormal. No wimpy reactive heroine for me, thank you – I like them taking charge and being proactive. But I want every character from an author to be a little different. Unless they’re clones, they bring a different background and history and baggage to the table –so how they react to the same situation will be completely different one character to the next, won’t they?

So for you writers out there, how do you make sure to avoid the cookie-cutter heroine issue? And for readers, do you ever notice this in your reading? That heroines are exactly the same from an author? What authors have you read that get it right and create unique heroines from book to book?