Another installment of GPF. I think that this lady needs no introduction. Golden is one of the first blogs that I started to follow when I started to hang around here. Her blog: The Eagle's Aerial Perspective features some very interesting posts, so if you have never been there, start clicking over. :-)
Strong Female Protagonists:
Many times I’ve come across books with an interesting concept, a strong plot, and a weak female protagonist, or some other mix. Usually it is because she is too dependent on the other character(s), is too weak emotionally and/or physically, or just doesn’t have the determination to really tackle the challenges she faces. If there’s a weak protagonist who could have been stronger and more of person who stands on her own two feet, I often wonder why wasn’t she that way?
Why are there so few strong, independent protagonists out there? I don’t know—but I’m here to give you a few things to think about if your Main Character happens to be female.
Often, Kristin Cashore’s Graceling is brought up as having a strong protagonist—and for very good reason. Two other notables are Diana Ladris from Michael Grant’s Gone Series and Deryn Sharp from Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series.
What makes them such great characters?
I consider it to be two things: determination and independence.
For example, Katsa (from Cashore’s Graceling) is a young woman who can stand on her own. Not only does she know how to fight and survive, she has friends, she falls in love, and she keeps those people close—but she can still be independent. I’m not a champion of her almost anti-marriage ideas (most people don’t live in that kind of strict society, anyway) but it does show how she doesn’t overly depend—physically and emotionally—on the people around her.
Diana Ladris (from Grant’s Gone Series) is another kind of strong female character. She’s not on the good side, but that doesn’t change the fact she’s a determined, independent character—she knows what she wants, and she does everything she can (even shaving her head and going into enemy territory) to get it. She doesn’t let people push her around, either; if they do, then there are consequences. Diana isn’t the noble, lovable hero like Katsa, but she is a strong female character.
Deryn Sharp (from Westerfeld’s Leviathan Trilogy) is another kind of protagonist. Forced to disguise herself as boy to join the British Air Service, she goes through the training and the tests to pursue her dream; she doesn’t let even her gender get in the way of what she wants to do. She has to keep up her disguise and hide the fact she’s a girl aboard an almost completely-male airship—and she continues to hold her own throughout the story, tackling the challenges of being in the Air Service as her country faces war and even making friends among the crew, passengers, and other people she meets along the way.
These three are only a few examples of strong female protagonists. There are many more out there, and I’ll probably find another one soon after this post is published, in some book I hadn’t reached before. But even though they’re all different characters, they still have two defining characteristics: determination and independence. Those two factors are very important if your female character is to be strong and able to take on the problems that come her way.
Have you ever felt that a female character could have been stronger? Do you have any female protagonists in your story(ies)? Do you agree with the characters I highlighted? Got any examples of female characters you think fit the bill?
Thanks again, Golden!
Remember that I have open slots from May onwards, so if you want to book a Friday, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com).