The Truth Behind “Strong Female Characters”

Today I got to have a chat with a fellow writer who’s just starting out. She and I had a very fun chat that started with a discussion on superhero films. It quickly changed to a discussion on the “strong female character” trope in television and literature. It was easily one of the most informative and revealing discussions I’ve ever had with someone on the topic. If she stays with this way of thinking, I think she could go pretty far in the writing industry.

This is the slightly edited version of her side of the conversation.

*Warning: Occasional Language*

I think that women in superhero movies are often really dumbed down to either two stereotypes:

1.) Helpless or

2.) “I DONT NEED A MAN I AM WOMAN IM SO POWERFUL AND SEXY YEAH I HAVE NO FEELINGS I AM A BRICK WALL- oh wait I’m gonna soften up.”

Strong women don’t always need to be one of the extremes. Here are some examples of “strong” characters that I honestly hate: Michonne from the Walking Dead, Black Widow, Catwoman. [They’re] the kind of sexy but very stone-faced characters. [Michonne] is one of the stereotypical strong women that doesn’t like to feel emotions outwardly, and I’ve just seen that so much. I love Lori and Carol because they’re so dynamic and not just sexy, strong, and stoned-face. That’s just my opinion.

I just get annoyed when I see females like that, because I think that people try to overcompensate for women. They try to make them as strong as possible, but then it makes them the typical “oh look how strong I am, I don’t need a man, I can shut out the world”.

I like characters who are both strong and loving, especially mothers. Honestly, my favorite characters are usually mothers like Molly Weasley. She’s so caring, kind of cute and sweet, but is extremely strong.

Honestly if there’s one thing I’ll say [about her], J.K. Rowling did an amazing job with female characters.

  • Hermione – strong, smart, physically not beautiful, but so loving,
  • Tonks – kinda scrappy and awkward but a fighter,
  • McGonagle – badass but caring.

It didn’t have to be the modern superhero sob-story, sexy angst-fest.

I feel like it almost adds to the sexual appeal when the “strong women” are really stone-faced and emotionless because then it becomes the man hero’s job to try and make her feel again, which is usually what happens. Michonne and Rick, Gamorah and Starlord, Black Widow and Bruce. And it’s funny, because these “strong” women are usually actually very sexualized. When I see a “strong woman character”, I often cringe. If they’re trying to make her strong, chances are they’re trying too hard. I love mother characters. Extreme love, extreme strength.

A lot of other “strong women” honestly are just bitchy.

I do like Rey, too. She’s a strong female that wasn’t over sexualized and didn’t come off as unfeeling. At first I thought she was, but it wasn’t overly so.

Lori was amazing because although I didn’t like her as a person, she was really complex, and often got faced with a lot of moral choices. I would sometimes say “Oh, she shouldn’t have done that!”, but then [I thought], “Honestly, I may have done that.”

Any female character that is badass and knows it and then continues with it, [she] just seems a little laughable to me. Please chill out and stop defining yourself only by your strength.

I “like” Michonne but, honestly, people are like, “wow, she’s so strong and badass”. I’m sorry, but in a woman, badassery is fine, but if that’s your defining quality it gets old. Michonne is the same but she really just becomes predictable. And [she’s] always so bitchy. I’m just so sick of strong female characters. Just make them characters; complex, not as badass as possible.

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A Very Sad Update.

So I think it’s well known that I hate killing off characters, but if I think it is needed in the plot, then I do so. For the final draft, I will get around to killing off a certain main character that I refused to kill off in the previous drafts. It just seemed ridiculous to me that they stayed alive, really. I only kept them alive because of how scared I was to kill them. It changes the plot of the second book slightly, but it’s important that it happens. Otherwise, it’s not realistic and the whole point of the story is not as compelling.

I REALLY hate myself for doing this. The fans will probably hate me just as much, but I can live with that.

To end this off nicely, for the final draft, I will finally do what I proudly proclaimed I would do initially. Now, half of the book is from the protagonist’s perspective and the other half is from the antagonist’s perspective.

Basically, what I’m telling you is that there is now no antagonist or protagonist. There are just warring sides. And really, that’s what I should have done all along.

Gabriel, out.

Adding To The Ranks

we now have a model for the character of Zenti in my upcoming novel Dark Soldier! It’s kind of an interesting story.

Now that I’m back in university, I am around far more people than usual. There’s a great amount of diversity at LU. Nonetheless, I told Annika (my good friend and the illustrator) we probably wouldn’t find an exact model for Zenti. She would have to fit a really specific description. Like, REALLY specific. I may do too much detail with character description, I’ll admit.

But as luck would have it, my third day back, I spotted someone who looked exact to her description just walking to class. I was shocked to say the least. She smiled, and I tried to smile back, still in shock. Then she scampered away. It was a bit paradoxical. 

And only two minutes later, I spotted someone who looked just like the main character! He looked at me oddly, frowned slightly and then walked off. This just so happens to be what Malkeon would do. It was a very exciting day for me.

I told all this to the illustrator, who’s immediate response was: “Why don’t we have her be the model?”

“Well,” I pointed out, “It’s a big college. I’ll probably never see either of them again.”

As luck would have it, day four walked around, I was sitting in class, and a certain person was giving her art proposal for the big semester assignment.

I recognized her immediately.

But the simple fact is that I am a very introverted person. Most of my ability with writing dialogue comes from listening, not talking. So it was very unlikely that I would talk to this person, much less ask them to be a model for a book character. For the next week I left it alone. 

Finally I decided it was either act now or get someone who wasn’t as accurate to character.

As it turns out, she not only agreed on the spot but has been wanting to do something like this for some time. And she will probably get to hold that freakishly large sword replica when it’s done. So that’s cool.

BusterSword004
Yes, about that size. maybe bigger.

I haven’t seen the Malkeon guy since the first time, though. Here’s hoping…

Now to find Malkeon, Rük, Luc, Sapphire, Crystal, Cedric and Vatrix before the book is published.

That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

“Mister Jack” sketches

So, I’m flinging myself back into writing AND drawing. The drawings are for an upcoming webcomic called Mister Jack. I’m not sure when it’s coming out (early October is the plan) but I do have some character sketches ready. The first is one of the main character, Jack.

He is neither dead or alive due to a curse he placed on himself. After wandering the earth a few decades, he decided to become a private eye for supernatural creatures. As he is a completely new kind of supernatural creature, he has some very strange abilities up his sleeve.

The second is the main character’s best friend and a vampire (specifically a kyonshi).

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And honestly, if you don’t think a vampire wearing a “give blood” hoodie is hilarious, I just feel sad for you. He’s been around a couple centuries, but does his best to keep up with the latest style. And he most certainly won’t be wanting to shut up.

That’s all I have for today. But keep on checking up on us for updates!

Introducing Character: Rük

Finally, you get to see some speech from the beast of a guy I always talk about writing for. The Pyruvian accent is based off Scottish, Glaswegian specifically. He’s six feet tall with dark skin, brown eyes and a battle axe worth noting.

“Dornt ye fash yerse abit ‘er,” said the dark-skinned one, his arms crossed while he gazed into the white-haired one’s eyes for a moment as she gazed back. “She gabs lots when she’s canty.”

[…]

“And this is Rük,” she explained to him, her eyes turning towards the man she was introducing. “Your eyes are looking a little red,” she noticed. “Have you been drinking again?”

“Drinkin’?” he asked, opening his eyes wide. “Wa ye hink ‘at?”

“Stand on one leg,” she commanded.

He tried unsuccessfully and fell right down on his backside. He cursed.

“You’re drunk.”

“Blooter’d an’ tipsy arenae th’ sam hin’,” Rük said, his words slurring a little.

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

I don’t have a whole of time to do this blog, but I’m going to try to do as much as I possibly can. I’m going to elaborate on the situation with the I owl/cat thing that I was talking about earlier. If you’re one of my fans on Facebook, you already saw the status of this possibly. The appearance of this creature is directly linked to one of the witch sisters in the book.

Are you maybe asking, “who are the witch sisters?” Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to explain in this blog. I won’t explain a whole lot, because I don’t want to spoil too much. the witch sisters are, as you can probably guess, sisters. They are possibly one of the most overpowered set of characters in the series. Each controls a distinct element almost completely. How they control it has changed since the first draft, but they’re still immensely powerful and extremely dangerous. You do not want to be within five feet of the sisters with a nasty thought, unless you have some kind of a death wish. And most certainly, you do not want to be within the range of all three of them. They will murder you before you can take a breath, unless they decide that they like you. Pray that they like you.

Now, witches are a little bit different in this series. They are not human. Most of them were not human at any point. They are, in fact, a species created during the 500 year war, most of which were made from scratch. They aren’t as big of a fan of reproducing as humans are, so they tend to be solitary creatures. So, to see three witches in one place, as you will in the series, is very, very strange. But you’ll learn what this is all about when they appear in the series.

And, they don’t really do that cauldron thing. They may do a lot of weird things, but the cauldron thing is not one of them. Nor in the series do you have to have a contract with Satan in order to be a witch. This is mainly because there is nobody called Satan in the series, but they don’t do contracts with dark lords either, unless they’re really hellbent on destruction. Mostly, they just want to be left alone.

And no, witches don’t look like this. Except one. One looks sort of like this at one point. It’s complicated.

Most people leave them alone. But, as we’ll find out, some people do not leave them alone. And this is where their part of the story begins.

**NOTE: I am totally aware of the existence of real pagans who do witchcraft and such. I had a good friend who was pagan back in high school. I do not attempt to demean the religion with the witches’ portrayal in the series as non-human creatures. These are not in any way like earth’s witches. I am still heavily considering changing the name of the species so as to make a greater divide, but for now the term “witch” stays. If I change it, it will probably be to “mage”, but I am open to other suggestions.**

Introducing Character: Iossa

Yes, that is a capital i, not an l. That’s a common confusion. I may just write it as Yiossa eventually, it’s pronounced the same way. Anyhow, this is a brief section of the book Dark Soldier showcasing the first lines spoken by this character! I don’t know how often I’ll do these, but hey, why not?

 She’s a bit of a talkative little lady, as you’ll find. These are quite regular sentences for her.

“Oh, brother, you must observe this,” a voice commanded from the kitchen. Iossa skipped into the kitchen with plate holding a rather large bread loaf, still hot. Malkeon raised his brow. “Shauna, Erin and Crystal have all come to join us for my birthday, and we have a massive bread loaf that we can pretend is a cake, and we can have a wonderful little birthday party like rich folk do! Sadly, we haven’t got any fire-sticks like they put on their cakes, which worries me because I always worry they’re going to burn their hair off or something, but like I said, it’s just like a cake and everything doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect, you know?”