If you read many romance novels, especially mainstream romance, you will become acquainted with a slew of heroines who are stunningly beautiful, talented, and witty. If she has a physical flaw, it is usually along the lines of “her eyes were too big.” Or, “she was just so thin and willowy.” Shudder! Wouldn’t it be terrible to be endowed with those shortcomings?
Lately there has been a bit of a backlash against this, and we are now seeing some heroines who are described as merely attractive instead of the most dazzling woman in the room. Sometimes they may even be described as plain or a bit plump. Based on the comments on sites like amazon, it seems readers appreciate seeing a little bit of physical diversity in their heroines. Other comments reveal that some readers are looking to novels as escapism. They want the opportunity to walk in that perfect woman’s shoes, if only for a few hours, and they prefer her to be gorgeous, witty, etc.
One thing I never see readers ask for is a heroine to be more dull, less clever, less able to stand up to the hero. On the whole, heroines are almost always bright, good-natured, and intelligent. I’ve always worked pretty hard on making my hero and heroine witty and smart. This is simply something I find immensely attractive in real life, and I like to see it in novels as well.
I am asking two separate questions here: Do you want your heroines to be pretty, and do you want them to be smart?