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Writer Musings: What is a Strong Female Character?

March 11, 2015

One theme I have noticed in the reviews I have received is that I write "strong female characters". The first time I read that I was a little surprised. I had some strong female characters, and some sort of pitiful female characters.  




 In The Hunters, for instance, Fury is definitely a "strong female character" but then Havoc is a strong male character. They are professional vampire hunters, so they wouldn't last long if they weren't strong no matter what their gender.


Several of the other females in the book were at least trying to be strong, but again they were defending their town against vampires. They would at least have to think of themselves as strong, right? Even the female I considered weakest had her strengths. That led me to wonder, what would a weak female character look like?


I mean, presumably she would be the opposite of a "strong female character", but no one considers themselves weak in real life, do they? For example, I have a female friend who is 5 feet, barely 100 lbs, and struggles to open a jar. But she is witty, sharp, clever and has a very dominant personality. Is she weak, just because she doesn't have physical power?



I have a sibling who "throws her weight around" so to speak, is very verbally and physically aggressive, and extremely competitive yet lacks the social grace to recognize when to back off or how to care for people's emotions. She considers herself very strong because she doesn't let anyone walk all over her.


I cannot fathom how one could write weak characters that are main characters, and have them be successful. How would a weak person triumph? If there is no triumph, how can we cheer for them? In my experience the only time the main character is weak is usually in cautionary tales. Bet even those characters don't see themselves as weak until it is too late.


I try to write characters that are realistic and believable (most of the time) and to me, no one thinks that they are weak. They tend to focus on their strengths. Even those of us (I will admit, I know I have weaknesses.) who acknowledge our weaknesses do not consider ourselves weak, right?


What do you think makes a "strong female character?"  Do you consider yourself weak? Do you know others who consider themselves weak? Do I just have a warped sense of reality... Ok, we all know I have a warped sense of reality, I write fiction! But am I perceiving the world the way I want in believing that people do not consider themselves weak in general?


Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Until next time,


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