Monday, 24 August 2020

The Schemes of an Edwardian Coquette: Planning Your Main Female Character

Rita Stella Galieh

Planning your main female character

It’s always a good idea to know your protagonist’s strengths and weaknesses, both male and female. I have always planned likeable characters. Of course they have flaws and make stupid mistakes, but just enough to make the reader cheer them through difficult situations.

This time I thought I’d like the challenge of writing a novel about a character very much like Scarlett O’Hara, the Southern Belle lead from Gone With The Wind. The girl is a selfish, hardhearted schemer through and through. But she is INTERESTING! And she keeps you waiting to see what her comeuppance will be. And that’s right throughout the story.

If you’re writing a Christian Romance, a HEA (happy ever after) ending is expected. Now with such an unlikable girl, that presents a major challenge. Regency author, Carolyn Miller has such a flawed secondary character in one novel then follows up with the same girl being the lead in her next. This is a clever way of tackling the problem.

Just for a fun exercise I’ve written the following cameo (which I won’t be using) with some questions to see what some of you romance writers might come up with.

The Schemes of an Edwardian Coquette.

According to my Papa I am spoiled. He doesn’t understand. Just because I attended an elite college for young ladies and have my own personal maid, he expects gratitude. But he’s so wealthy it’s likely it doesn’t even a cause dent in his bank account.

I know I am like Mama. When I accompany her shopping, I always end up with one new outfit to her three. That is, including all the accessories Ladies must set themselves apart from commoners by their wardrobes and I agree. I shouldn’t ever like to look like a maid or a shop girl. Though some do have a flair in making the best of their wages. No one could ever believe our clothes are shop bought. Our designer, Pierre, has a special knack with fresh creations. I mean just imagine coming across another lady wearing the same apparel!

Tomorrow I am to join a house party and meet our crowd at the Beaumont’s. Their grounds are large enough for a full sized croquet court. Their lawns are so smooth and even the balls go straight for the hoops when hit with our mallets. I adore this game as I always attract help from young gentlemen showing me how to correctly hit the ball. It’s rather exciting to have young men in such proximity, I can catch a whiff of their shaving cream. And I know this irritates the other girls as I never fail to garner attention from Rupert, Edwin, Alasdair and Albert. Of course none of them quite meet my expectations as Mama says I must catch a wealthy man if I am to continue living the way in which I am accustomed. But I will never marry a domineering man like Papa. I shall only choose one who adores the ground I walk on and shall allow me everything my heart desires. Most of all he should possess his own flashy new roadster and be able to drive it himself. I should love the see the looks on my friends’ faces as we drive by with my scarf trailing in the breeze.

I am quite accomplished. I play pianoforte, I am told I possess a nice soprano voice, I employ pathos and humour in my recitations, and I can converse with ease no matter the gender So when I am presented before our new Queen Alexandra next year, I shall be a great success. Mama says it will be here that I should find my future husband as this is where fine society gentlemen eye all the possibilities. I have practised my eyelash flutters and thanks to Mama’s advice, I can sum up an immediate blush by thinking of my dance partner in his pyjamas. Of course I practise my fan signals of which most young men are familiar. Oh yes, I will be very well prepared for my Coming Out.


  • If you were writing this, how would you plan to change this little egotist’s outlook, ie. to change her from an unlikable to a nice girl?
  • Maybe something happens to shake up her comfortable life?
  • Maybe she comes across an attractive man who will question her outlook?

There are many possibilities and I’d be interested to see what you come up with in a sentence or two. And if this gets your muse working, you may very well begin your own Romance whether it be historical or contemporary.

Indie Publisher, Rita Stella Galieh, has written a trilogy of historical romance novels & has also contributed to several US anthologies. She is now completing a second Historical Romance series set in the Edwardian Era. She can be found on Facebook and  

Rita studied art at the National Art School then joined the family ceramics studio. After their marriage, she and her husband attended Emmaus Bible College, and lived in the US for two years. She has co-presented Vantage Point, an Australia-wide five minute Christian FM radio program. She enjoys giving her fun-filled presentations of Etiquette of the Victorian Era in costume but if her next series gets published she’ll need to change her presentation.

Everything can change in a heartbeat...
Victoriana Series: Signed Sealed Delivered; The Tie That Binds; A Parcel of Promises.


  1. Interesting character sketch, Rita. I'd probably put her in situation in which her world is thrown upside down (like a pandemic, natural disaster, the arrest of father on fraud charges that sees the loss of the family fortune, a little sister with a terminal illness). Something that would make her see that her life has been shallow to this point and she learns to rise to the occasion and think of others rather than herself.

  2. I was about to say something a bit similar to Nola. I'd let the family lose their riches and she has to make some hard choices about whom to marry in the light of this. She also has to learn to 'make do' with not-so-fine clothes etc. And perhaps learn to be useful! Thanks Rita, interesting for thought.

  3. I like Nola’s situation; or perhaps have a rival who is sweet, kind and wise and is shown in a better light to the young men in their circle. This could be the result of wise practical decisions that show up the selfish and shallowness of our protagonist to the point where she starts to question why she is being ostracised and realises she needs to change her attitude. Possible conversion opportunity right here!

  4. Great ideas Nola.The part where she has a revelation of her shallowness would be fun to write.

  5. Jeanette, the thought of 'making do' would be a real shock to the girl's system and I think would also make fun reading.

  6. Whooh! Getting the 'cold shoulder' from her peers should make her weigh up her behaviour too.Thanks, Kaye.