5 Time Tested Traits for Your Ultimate Romance Novel Protagonist

5 Time Tested Traits for Your Ultimate Romance Novel Protagonist

Romance Novel Protagonist

The best romantic heroes and heroines sweep us off our feet and make us believe in love again. Mediocre protagonists barely register.

As a romance writer, your priority is crafting characters that we remember long after putting the book down. Hard to pull off? You bet.

But heroes from long-dead civilizations, like Homer’s Odysseus and Helen of Troy, still resound today. There’s a good reason for it. Powerful characters live on by embodying mythic traits that we also associative with ourselves.

What can you, the humble romance novelist, learn from myth? Here are five traits every romance novel protagonist should have to stand out from the crowd.

1. They are Better Than You

Unsplash.com — Cristian Newman

Betty Bombshell, your romance heroine, is a high-powered magazine journalist living and working in New York City. She seems to have it all: a penthouse, a loyal dog. But something’s missing from her life.

We don’t just relate to our romance protagonists; we look up to them. The best romance protagonists allow readers to fantasize about living in their shoes. They present an idealized version of real life.

We don’t want to watch Johnny Casanova sit on the couch and pick lint out of his bellybutton, but we want to feel like we’re still party to everything going on in his life.

2. But They are Still Deeply Flawed

Unsplash.com — Larm Rmah

But we don’t want them to be too perfect. They need to experience challenges and conflict too.

Think of mythical heroes like Odysseus. Odysseus is an idealized Grecian man. He’s got a kingdom and a devoted wife. He’s known for his sharp wit and tremendous courage. But most of the terrible things that happen to Odysseus throughout The Odyssey happen because he’s too prideful and rash. This tragic flaw is also known as hubris. For example, he gets himself into trouble with the god Poseidon because, after blinding Poseidon’s cyclops son, he is quick to boast about his deeds.

Being able to see a character’s flaws and the trouble they can get her into allows her to come across as human and relatable.

3. They will Venture Out of Their Comfort Zone

Romance Novel Protagonist

Unsplash.com — Soroush Karimi

Even if their life seems comfortable on the outside, the story and their quest to find love will force them out of their comfort zone. This new found zeal might see them run off to New York on a whim to meet their true love (see Sleepless in Seattle). Whatever they might do, make them uncomfortable. Force them to make desperate choices. But, as you’re going to see in a second, whatever they do must feel worth the effort.

4. They will Risk Everything For Their Reward

Unsplash.com — Sweet Ice Cream Photography

Romance protagonists have one main goal: to get with the guy (or the girl). No matter what kinds of crazy misadventures Betty Bombshell and Johnny Casanova get into, the reward must be sweet enough to justify the journey.

Cinderella, depending on the version of her story, goes through a lot of crap. She’s got a stepmother and stepsisters who abuse her. She’s a servant in her own house. But by the end of the story, she struggles on to reach her (well-deserved) goal — marry the prince and leave home.

Because she’s willing to risk everything (the wrath of her stepmother, more abuse) and we know how much she stands to lose, we want her to win and succeed.

No matter how charmed your protagonist’s life may seem from the outside, we need to feel that she’ll lose everything if she doesn’t get to find Johnny Casanova.

5. It is Almost Destiny

Unsplash.com — Les Anderson

It’s hard to describe but, in a way, your heroine or hero is the best possible person to meet their love interest. The story and the circumstances that surround them almost feel destined.

We can’t imagine Romeo without Juliet. Or Scarlett O’Hara without Rhett. Your protagonist seems like, or becomes, the right person for the job, even if they don’t believe they are at first.


When creating your romance fiction, be sure to make your romance novel protagonist someone your readers can look up to. But heroine or hero needs to have one or more flaws to keep them human like the rest of us. Push them into uncomfortable situations where they’ll risk everything for their one true love.


Fire up your Fiction! 9 Powerful Online Fiction Writing Courses

Fire up your Fiction! 9 Powerful Online Fiction Writing Courses

Online Fiction Writing Courses

There are now many great creative writing and online fiction writing courses. You could probably write a short story or outline a novel in the time it will take you to research and compare what’s out there. So, without any more time wasting, we’ve put together a few top courses that will get you back to writing…

Writing Tools

Scrivener Full Course on How to Write a Book in Scrivener

This course taught by Karen Prince will help you to master all the major features of your Scrivener writing software to write ebooks and paperback books. The course consists of 44 video lessons that will teach you all of Scrivener’s basics from setting things up, writing, sorting and editing to compiling your book for export.

Scrivener Simplified: How To Compile Your eBook for Export

This course taught by James Burchill is perfect for self-published authors. Includes BONUS a “BestSeller” Mindmap. The course contains 31 video lessons to cut right to the chase of exporting your ebook in MOBI, EPUB, PDF & more.


Fiction Writing: A Complete Novel Outline Chapter by Chapter

In this course taught by Mike Dickson, learn the Hollywood secret to completing a comprehensive novel outline in as little as 2 weeks. After 42 video lessons, you will understand what a comprehensive novel outline should look like to give you the best chance at writing a complete first draft.


Write Your Best Fiction and Get It Published

This course is taught by Jeff Gerke, a five-time Writer’s Digest author. It has 45 video lessons from getting your best story idea to constructing your fiction proposal. Some of Jeff’s Writer Digest’s books include The Irresistible Novel, Plot Versus Character, The First 50 Pages, Write Your Novel in a Month, and The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction.

Novel Writing Workshop

This course taught by Steve Alcorn will help you turn your idea into a published novel, step by step. with 27 video lessons. Whether you’re a first-time novelist still planning your story or an experienced author looking for ways to bring your fiction to life Novel Writing Workshop will help you from your story structure all the way to getting published.

The Disobedient Writer: Break the Rules and Free Your Story

This course taught by Anya Achtenberg is a guide to taking your fiction writing and memoir writing beyond the same old formula and telling unforgettable stories. It consists of 39 video lessons that aim to free you from the tyranny of the rules and offer a solid foundation of techniques, or roads into writing, that expand your understanding of the workings of creativity, language, and story, and help you discover and bring forward your own best work.

Writing for Online Engagement: Fiction in a Digital World

This course taught by Rebecca Sky will introduce you to online fiction writing and you will learn the frameworks, techniques, and strategies for establishing, engaging, and growing a community around your work. 11 video lessons cover today’s writing landscape, tips for serialized fiction, merchandising individual stories, and marketing your work to build your personal brand — all to help you find success.


Revise and Edit Your Own Novel

This course taught by Ellen Brock will help you learn how to edit your own novel for traditional or self-publication with the help of a professional editor. In 29 video lessons, she walks you through examining your story structure and pacing, point of view, chapters and scenes, dialogue, and punctuation.


Sell Your Novel to a Major Publisher (Writing Mastery)

This course taught by Jessica Brody is a comprehensive, step-by-step insider’s guide to selling your book and becoming a paid, published author. With 61 video lesson, she takes you from understanding the types of publishing, the entire publishing process, working with agents, creating your pitch and query letter, selling your novel, and navigating your book contract.


Please let us know if you’ve tried any of these online fiction writing courses and what you think, or if you have others to recommend.

Please share your current fiction writing project!