Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Character Traits for Heroines

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I’m tweaking this week’s prompt a little bit so I can take a meta approach to the topic. Heroines come in all shapes and sizes, of course, but the reader’s expectations of how she should behave probably wouldn’t be the same in the historical romance genre as in a contemporary horror novel or a cozy mystery set on a lunar space station 500 years in the future.

With that being said, here are some character traits I love to see in heroines across many different genres and settings.


Black and white photo of a white woman wearing a black one-piece bathing suit. She’s crouching on a barren rock that’s surrounded by water and placing a black flag on the rock. The waves around her are gentle, and it appears to be a nice day outside although the sky is not visible. 1. Healthy Boundaries

Here in North America, girls and women tend to be socialized to be peacemakers and endlessly accommodating to other people’s needs and wishes.  This can encourage some of us to have trouble setting and recognizing appropriate boundaries, so I love seeing examples of characters who can both set boundaries and respect other people’s limits, too.

2. Meaningful Flaws 

No one is perfect. I like it when heroines have flaws that make a meaningful difference to the plot and to their daily lives. That is to say, I prefer realistic protagonists who procrastinate too much, or who have a bad temper, or who give too much unsolicited advice (or what have you) over ones whose biggest problem is that they’re a clumsy dancer but are otherwise pretty perfect.

3. Common Sense and Street Smarts

I  prefer heroines who remain aware of their surroundings and take reasonable precautions before rushing into an unknown situation. It’s one thing to be caught off guard after doing everything right but quite another for a heroine (or a hero) to ignore multiple red flags for the sake of plot development.


4. Frugal 

As much fun as it can be to read about characters with limitless budgets, I find it easier to relate to the ones who know that they only have so much money to last until the end of the month. There’s something comforting about seeing characters juggle bills and figure out how to afford what they need when the plot requires it.


5. Calm and Quiet

This is not to say I expect characters to behave this way all of the time, only that I think we need more characters who have easygoing personalities and aren’t the life of the party. Think of all of the interesting things that happen in the corners of a room and out of the attention range of the loudest and flashiest partygoers. There are so many folks hanging out quietly on the perimeter who are worth getting to know, and I’d love to have more stories about their lives.




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60 Responses to Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Character Traits for Heroines

  1. Interesting take on the topic! And a couple of these are traits I would never have thought of off the top of my head – Frugal / Healthy Boundaries – but now you’ve mentioned them, make so much sense to me?

  2. I like your take on the subject, especially the frugal and calm virtues.

  3. These are all great characteristics for heroines.

  4. I love your twist on today’s topic! And I agree with them all, too — as well as the underlying theme of “make them realistic”. Sure, over-the-top characters can be fun to read about, but I connect so much more with the ones who have regular personality flaws.

    My TTT:

  5. Great twist on today’s topic and I agree with all your picks.

  6. I love your take. So unique and yes, frugal characters are so realistic and relatable.

  7. What an interesting take on this week’s topic. These are all pretty great character traits for a character to have.

  8. Love your twist! I can only agree with all of these traits.

  9. I love all of these, but especially that last one.

  10. Love your take on characteristics of heroines. I too love some flaws in them because I know then I can relate! Interesting about the quiet ones. I seem to be bringing to mind a series by Lisa Kleypas about Wallflowers!

  11. This is a great topic take!! I totally agree with all of this. I would love more healthy boundaries and common sense!

  12. I am so glad you made #1 Healthy Boundaries. This is the biggest issue, especially for younger women, to consistently put into practice.

    Thank you for posting.

  13. I love this twist on the topic and that each of these traits are unique ones that I haven’t necessarily thought about before. Common sense/street smarts are definitely needed in order for me to admire a character. I can’t abide idiots! Characters have to make mistakes, obviously, to feel human, but they can at least make reasonable ones, you know?

    Happy TTT!


  14. I enjoy a heroine with common sense and street smarts too. Great character qualities you’ve featured here! Thanks for visiting my TTT as well!

  15. Lydia – this is such a great and creative twist on this week’s topic, and I love it! I have to agree with all of these points. So many books feature women bending over backwards to accommodate men in relationships, and I hate seeing toxic relationships featured – I’m so much more drawn to books that feature healthy relationships and accurate depictions of characters. We’re all flawed in some way, so I like characters that reflect that.

  16. We love and always appreciate some common sense and street smarts! So good for any heroine or yes, hero, too. Makes them all the more likable. 🙂

  17. A great, thought provoking list. I would definitely read books with Heronines that have these traits.

    Have a great week!

  18. What a unique spin on this week’s prompt!

  19. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    It’s so frustrating to read about “perfect” characters. I love to read about a character who has those realistic flaws you mentioned. So much more believable and relatable.

  20. I love your twist on the topic! More introvert characters would be appreciated.

  21. Your twist on the topic is perfect! I also enjoy these traits in women, and especially calm and quiet!

  22. I really like your tweak for this week’s prompt. I agree with them as well. It’s interesting that you mention budget because so often we do see books where money isn’t mentioned, but they seem to buy anything and everything they need without thought.

  23. Jo

    Interesting take on this week’s topic, I loved the one about having healthy boundaries, because YES, that is a great thing and it’s something I wish we saw more in book characters. I also like characters much better if they have meaningful flaws. I do quite like the reckless type of characters who dive into things without always completely thinking them through though, I find those quite fun to follow. I do agree with you on the need for more quiet characters, though I do love a loud, brash heroine, it would be nice to see more heroines who were a little more reserved too.

  24. I love what you did with this week’s topic and agree with the traits you highlighted.

  25. Great twist this week! I prefer realistic flaws in my fiction, as well. It’s always too obvious when a flaw has been chosen just to serve the plot.

  26. So good! I’m with you on all of these. Especially #3 — I have quit reading several different mystery series because the heroine always does super stupid things like not telling anyone where she is going or not stopping to call for backup before chasing down a bad guy by herself. One time? That’s a rookie mistake. In book six, this is still happening? I’m not buying it anymore.

  27. vidya

    I loved your take on this week’s prompt… and yes, totally agree with all of them.. And I would love more stories about the quiet ones.
    Thanks for visiting and commenting, as always

  28. This is a fun tweak for this week’s prompt. Have a great weekend.

  29. This was definitely a great take on the prompt. I think a lot of those traits could apply through different genres, and I like thinking about it that way. Thanks again for linking your post to your comment on mine! It helps when the Linksy is down to check out your post 🙂

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