Saturday, April 28, 2012

#AtoZ Challenge - Y - Yin Yang with Guest Blogger Dianna Shuford

Pairing your heroine with the perfect hero
Dianna Shuford

Yin-yang, a primary concept of Chinese traditional philosophy, symbolizes two opposites balancing each other in a perfectly harmonious relationship. As one element changes, the other will have to respond to ensure balance. Think about Earth to Sky, Water to Fire, Female to Male.

Obviously, our characters can’t have perfectly balanced lives all the time. Let’s be honest. If you picked up a book and the heroine had a perfect life all the time, not only would you not finish the book, but you may experience the urge launch the book in a guided missile simulation. Yet, in order for your characters to be happy and healthy, they must have a balanced relationship by the end of your story.

So, when looking at your characters, how can this concept help you find the perfect mate for your not-so-perfect characters?

One area to consider is that your heroine and hero should be opposites in at least one way. That doesn’t mean they have to be odds with each other all the time, but there needs to be an area where your heroine will be challenged, and eventually changed for the better, by the hero’s actions. If the hero and heroine are too similar, then neither will be challenged or changed in any way through knowing the other. Wouldn’t that lead to a boring life?

The movie Sleepless in Seattle is a perfect example of this concept. At the beginning of the movie the heroine, Annie, has found the perfect man to marry for her- except it turns out that he’s not as perfect as she thought. She finds herself happy by the end of the movie with a man who was very different from her and even lived on the other side of the country. Talk about future challenges and complications.

Another detail you can consider when trying to pick out that perfect mate would be to ask yourself, what kind of person could my heroine not live without in order to be happy? Sure, your heroine would continue breathing and living and making decisions, but to be genuinely happy she would need what kind of person?

Lisa Kleypas’ book Devil in Winter gives the reader a perfect combination for Evie, the heroine. Evie proposes a marriage of convenience to the worst rake in London to gain security and safety. While saddened that she had to give up her dream of a gentle man who would never make fun of her stutter, she found by the end of the book she had found that her husband makes her happier than she ever imagined, especially when he deliberately makes her mad and challenges her to be her true self. If Evie had gotten the type of man she thought she’d wanted, would she have been happy?

Look at your heroine’s relationship with the hero. Does it change continuously? If the change is not a smooth change, then what would have to happen in order for their relationship balance to return? If your heroine is too forceful or your hero too overbearing, then the relationship will be destroyed. An unbalanced relationship will have to find a level of balance in order to reach that happy ending.

Anakin and Padme from Star Wars: Episode I had an unbalanced relationship, and look where they ended up by the end of Episode III. Tragic, but a perfect example of two characters whose flaws rise to destroy the characters and their relationship. So, when choosing your characters and their mates makes sure their flaws can balance so the relationship can flourish and your readers can believe in a happily-ever-after that can survive the test of time.   

Plan your heroine and hero with care. Make sure their individual qualities can co-exist and balance each other while presenting challenges that forces continued character growth.

What do you consider when you create your heroines and heroes? How do you use their individual qualities to make the other happy? How can healthy conflict between your two main characters facilitate character growth rather than destroy the relationship?



  1. Great post, Dianna! Thanks for posting today.

    I love to write opposites! Right now, I'm working on one where the hero is a dreamer and the heroine is very practical. It's fun!

  2. I bet that will be a fun story, Missy! And it's a nice twist where the hero is the dreamer. Sometimes I see the dreamer as coming from the female side only.

    Thanks for being our guest today Di! I enjoy the examples you gave us. I need to read Devil In Winter, tho... hadn't read that one by Lisa K.

    I think one reason why I used to enjoy soap operas so much is that they always placed the opposite couples together. Luke and Laura;

  3. Missy- I agree with you that pairing opposites can be fun, especially when the hero and heroine challenge each other in positive ways.

    Complacency usually leads to boredom so I'm sure your dreamer guy and practical girl won't be bored!

  4. Christy- thanks for inviting me! I always enjoy hanging out with you ladies. And, I agree that Missy's story sounds like fun.

    Evie and Sebastian are two of my favorite Lisa Kleypas characters of all her stories. You'll definitely enjoy their conflicts if you read the book.

    For me, characters who have opposite personalities, but make it work in spite of their differences is an example of true love, of accepting the other person for who they are.

  5. Dianna, one of the main themes I write about is accepting people for who they are. So working with opposites works really well with that. :)

  6. Dianna--in the book I"m working on now my heroine feels like her mother abandoned her for the mission field. And the hero is closing up his business to be a missionary.
    Like you said, conflict doesn't have to mean they are warring with each other all the time.
    Nice post. And I love Lisa K's novels.