We’ve all seen it before: those plucky ladies who can run faster, jump higher, hit harder and just generally beat their male counterparts in everything they set their minds to. Some of them most likely would abhor the term ‘lady’ if it was ever used to describe them. These characters earn a resounding cheer from female readers. I love ’em, and most of my major female characters are some variation of this archetype. Sadly, though, they can be overdone.
In my novel ‘Coldfire’, my protagonist’s love interest, Valora, is definitely one of these Amazonian women. She’s crazy strong, always has a witty comeback and set people on fire with her mind. She used to a very one-dimensional character, long before I began the novel. This was a long time ago, back when she was an Original Character in a Harry Potter fanfic. She was too perfect, except for her temper. She was also a certified genius, which turned out be overkill.
So I fixed her up. My main character, Darian, is a certified genius so she couldn’t be smarter than him unless I wanted her reciting the periodic table, along with each element’s isotopes and type of radiation they can emit, for approximately 100,000 words. She’s now not the sharpest tool in the shed, but still reasonably intelligent. I can’t stand dippy characters, especially when I have to spend an extended period of time with them.
Valora is now a balance between awesome (strong fighter, witty, brain-numbingly hot) and not-so-awesome (moody, scatterbrained, obnoxious).
The lesson that can be learned from here is that while strong female characters are great, they can’t be completely perfect and infallible. Readers get bored with the sassy, hot, perfect creature that kicks butt across all 200-odd pages of your masterpiece, which the layman calls a ‘book’. Like all other characters you create, these ladies (Yes, I know you’re not a lady, Valora) need to have their flaws.
(Hooray! I’m back to crapping on about things you already knew :) )