I posted before about my struggles with stronger females, the kind who can easily become too perfect. Now I’m going to write about the girls on the opposite end of the scale: the trembling female characters who need help to get by, and often become the Damsel In Distress. From my experience, readers loathe the little damsels and all their anti-feminist connotations. I think they can be effective if done well. I’m hoping I will be one of the few who can do it.
Last month, I started a new novel that I’m tentatively calling “Golden”. The main character is a highly-strung mess grieving for her boyfriend, who recently died by way of a flying accident. By the way, all these characters are faeries. Oh, don’t hold your applause. I know how lame these kinds of stories can get :)
Anyway, this teenage faerie girl is quite possibly too flaky. I’m about ten thousand words in and already freaking out over how on earth I’m going to make her the heroine in the end. No small task. The majority of novels on my shelf feature strong, ass-kicking young women. I have “Wings” by Aprilynne on my shelf, where the main character is a much gentler sort of person. I think I may have to do some digging and find other books like that. Oh, and “Willow” by Julia Hoban, too. Time for some study, I suppose.
In any case (see how I almost wrote “anyway” again?), here is my opinion on the gentler female characters: she needs to be somewhat independent and can’t constantly rely on others. She has to have stronger aspects of her personality, meaning she can’t be all quivery, all the time. It may be best to step away from the cliché “I really do need you help but my ego is so fragile that I can’t admit it so I’ll whinge and moan about you rescuing me” sort of character. There are plenty of them in the world already, methinks.
There also has to be a good reason why she is the way she is, what sort of events happened in her past. Maybe her best friend fell down a well and died when she was five, or maybe she was just pampered and spoiled her whole life and expects everyone to pander to her every whim.
So many possibilities, so many terrifying prospects. Gah. Ooh, Muse is playing on my iPod. Toodles.