Strong Female Characters: Fact vs Fiction

“”So, why do you always write these strong women characters?”
“Because you’re still asking me that question. “”-Joss Whedon

They’re all the rage. Run a search and you will find hundreds of articles on how to write them. We all want to create a Katniss or a Buffy or an Arya. We like our women strong, or at least we think we do. For every Katniss there are 12 Bellas and every Buffy there are 200 Lana Langs. In tv and fiction these days there are more weak female characters that we are told are strong than those who possess that actual qualities we seem to want.

So how do you tell the difference?

Isn’t is kinda amazing that we, as a society, don’t yet know?

It’s because we’re dazzled with flash and glitz and drama and a few broken rules. A strong character doesn’t need to wield a sword or have ninja skills. She doesn’t need to defy a nation in a gorgeous dress or defy her parents wishes or choose the better, however more difficult, man. Those things are props that are stuck on female characters to make us think they’re strong. They’re superficial.

“I’m team Katniss. Everyone thinks there’s a love triangle and when I look at it, when I read the books with my sister, I just thought more about how Katniss is going to the games for her family. So, I’m team Katniss.” – Willow Sheilds

So what is it that makes a strong female character?

The answer is in the question.

Strong character.

It’s not about being stubborn or squashing feelings. It’s not about super powers. It’s not about following her heart or her dream. It’s most definitely not about winning over the man.

It’s about having the strength of character to face whatever trials the story throws her way and continuing on.

So how do you write that?

I suggest you draw from inspiration. Think of the strong women in your life. Your grandmother, your mother. Your sister or your best friend. Your teachers and bosses.

What are the qualities that make them strong? Do they do what needs to be done? They make sacrifices but continue to strive and hope for something better for themselves. They hold themselves to a high standard. They are resourceful. They get back up when they fall. It doesn’t have to be everything. Strength presents in different ways, in different situations but the important part of it is:

They are not strong women. They are strong people.

What women would you want to have your back if you were facing a serious trial?

Who would you want on your side? Buffy or Bella?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Why are strong females so hard for some writers to nail down? What makes them strong? What would you like to see more of?


6 thoughts on “Strong Female Characters: Fact vs Fiction

  1. I think the strong female character is hard to write because we still think of them as a novelty – a selling point – instead of simply the MC of the story built on who they as a person. I don’t have to sell a story with “and it’s got a strong male hero that sticks to his convictions yada yada yada”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My heroine is based person who lived in my Greek village nearly 200 years ago. I found reports of her bravery, fighting as a rebel disguised as a young man. However, there was no information describing how she managed to maintain her disguise and excel in such an amazing manner that her achievements are still commemorated with an annual memorial service.I opted against making her a physically strong woman and choose to concentrate on her intelligence, wit, hatred of the man that ruined her life and enduring love of those she held dear. In doing so I found a key to strong women that I shall use again, in a different mix. X

    Liked by 1 person

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