Monday, July 18, 2011

Girl Power (Crit Diaries)

I've always hated Belle.

Belle is a tricky character. You think she's all, "ra-ra-Feminism, yay!" She is independent! She walks to town by herself! She sings in a meadow and doesn't care who hears!

 For crying out loud, she loves books! BOOKS!

And she refuses this guy, so we all think she's doing pretty well for herself.
Screen shot 2010-12-11 at 3.42.01 PM
(Um, gross.)

But we all know the story. She lands at the Beast's castle, hates it, decides to ditch. In the middle of the winter. In the middle of the night. With no map.
(What? I never imagined there would be starving, vicious wolves in these dark winter woods! I'm scared, a need a big strong man to save me!)

Sadly, Belle is my go-to example of a girl who looked like a promisingly strong, smart female character, and then just....wasn't. She reads books, sure, but does she learn anything from them? Sadly the answer seems to be "no." It always frustrated me so much. (Luckily, my baby girl will have Princesses Mulan and Tiana to learn from....)

So, when I set out to write a strong female main character, what did I do?

Yeah, you guessed it. I wrote about a girl who cries a lot, is pretty dense, whines even more, and has a little bit of trouble making strong decisions without the help of her man. Did I mention she's dense?

Katniss would not be happy.

Today's task: Go through the MS and delete all references to my MC being a total dolt. And then add some opportunities for her to show up her boyfriend(s) and her enemies, and to kick some ass.

Anyone else have thoughts on what makes a strong girl character, and how to write one? It's not as easy as you might think, I'm learning....


  1. Oh my God, I laughed out loud at this. You are. Freaking. Hilarious.

  2. This is great! Can you please analyze the awesome princesses now?

  3. Oh, ladies.
    Gina- thank you!
    Amanda - Do I hear a guest post? (Of course I will analyze Mulan, unless you want to!)

  4. LOL. I like the picture of Katniss.

    I haven't written fiction in a long, long time, but my favorite female characters were intelligent, street smart and stubborn. When boys liked them, they made sure the boys knew they had to EARN her (I'm looking at you, Ella and Katniss. And Sammy Keyes by Wendeline Van Draanen).

    The heroines I loved didn't have many friends - they were weirdos or outsiders.

    Ah, the Disney princesses. Mulan's the only one that, in hindsight, is still awesome. By the way, if you can find kid friendly Justice League eps you should introduce your kids to Hawk Girl. She's my fave.

    Perfectly written heroines in YA fiction: check out Gail Carson Levine's rethought fairy tales called The Princess Tales. They're the Rogers and Hammerstein princesses, only with some backbone.

    <3 I'm so excited to read whatever you're writing! <3