Let’s Create our Heroine ~ Brainstorming Wednesday

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been illustrating how I
build stories by involving you in brainstorming a new one. Whether you’re a reader or a writer, I hope you’re having
as much fun as I am following the comments and throwing in your ideas. 

As promised, today we’ll work on the heroine, but in
addition to exploring the lie she believes, I’d like to include another
important element in the dialogue—her goals. What is she after? What does she
want to accomplish and why? And how is that going to bring her into conflict
with the hero?

Last week, we decided our hero fireman, Jack, believes maybe
his mom was right all along that he’s not cut out to be a fireman. He’s
struggling with his emotions over failing to save the villain’s wife from the
fire. Yet, his fellow firemen’s razzing makes him more determined than ever not
to quit. 

We’ve also given him a faithful Australian Shepherd that he rescued
from a fire. (Great idea, Kav.) Blind in one eye, and singed around the corners, the dog doesn’t
take to too many people. But he’ll adore our heroine who we’ve decided to call

We’ve decided that perhaps she’s a nurse and that’s how she
met the fireman. Or… depending on which villain scenario we ultimately run with,
that her home has simply been mistaken for the hero’s and she’ll fall victim to
a revenge plot intended against the hero.

This kind of vague uncertainty of which path to take is
common in the early stages of plotting a story—at least for me. I like to
explore a number of different paths before settling on one. 

Your turn: What
should be our heroine’s goal? What lie does she believe?

For those who have been following the Wednesday
brainstorming sessions from the beginning, you’ll remember we talked about the possibility
that her dad had left her as a child. Not sure if we’ll go with that scenario,
but that kind of traumatic childhood experience is excellent breeding ground
for lies.


  • When I choose goals for my characters, I like to think of what they are before the opening action of the story puts them on their heads. So for example, in Deep Cover, Ginny Bryson’s goal is to ensure the group home for her sister gets built. The hero’s appearance jeopardizes that goal, and we have instant conflict.

    So applying that method to the story we’ve been brainstorming…some ideas for Peggy’s goal that the hero & villain’s actions could thwart are: honor their local fire department’s heroes with a giant shindig, name the hospital’s new burn wing after the hero, something to do with orphaned dogs, something that makes her want to avoid contact with the hero, but the villain’s actions force her to be with him all the more, to find her long lost father.

    Lie she believes? Perhaps something to do with why her father abandoned her and mom.

  • I’m a little braid-dead to brainstorm. Been working on my own blog for the past 2 days. But . . .

    I’m thinking father-abandonment is another of those ‘overdone’ issues. Um, how old is Peggy? Would her father be of the right age to have been reported MIA in Vietnam? Or maybe the Gulf War? (We’ll have to do some date checking.) Still, running with that for a minute, let’s say Peggy equates firefighters with the military. While she’s attracted to Jack she keeps him at arm-length because she is afraid to care for someone who’s job could cost him his life. She doesn’t want to lose another loved one.

    And, what if, besides her career as a nurse, what if she volunteers at an animal shelter? She could, as you said, Sandra, become involved with a fund-raiser for buying an adjacent piece of property to expand the shelter so they can take in more dogs.

    Need to think more on this.

    What do you think?

  • Aah, Peggy, you’re touching on another important element, i.e. the romantic conflict. Why can’t this woman fall in love with the hero. I’m feeling pretty brain dead myself today. I like the animal shelter idea. Maybe having the dad in the picture is too much for a short novel. I think I need to think more on the suspense plot, before I can come up with a heroine that works well with it.

  • You’re probably right. So, which one do we like? The “wrong address” and villain doesn’t believe Peggy doesn’t know Jack, etc? Or villain learns that Peggy, a burn-center nurse is the one who took care of Jack and uses her to find Jack so villain can extract his vengeance.

    I’m tired 🙂

  • PS: I might be able to help some with the burn center/nurse scenes. 4 years ago my hubby suffered 2nd degree deep burns on his right hand and arm and we made gobs of trips to the burn center.

  • Ouch, sorry to hear about your husband, but yeah your experience will sure help. I like the idea of him at the wrong house, casing the joint, not believing her, because it sets up for some immediate attacks to get her to cooperate. Maybe she bought the house from the hero after meeting him in the burn unit. LOL. I’m brain dead!

Great to "see" you here today! I look forward to reading your comment.