Writer's Digest

FEMALE, POWERFUL, and REAL

I’ve been obsessed with imaginative fiction for as long as I can remember. I was, objectively, already an expert on sorcery by the time I dressed as a magician for Halloween at age six, the year my little sister dressed as a rabbit (albeit not one quite small enough to fit into my hat). I devoured every adventure book I could get my hands on, and although they filled me with immense joy, I was puzzled and frustrated by the representation of female characters (or, often, lack of representation) in the types of books I enjoyed.

Significant female characters are practically nonexistent in older books. Even newer books with female protagonists are generally male-dominated, and most “strong female leads” are so predictable that from an early age I found I could sort female protagonists into two categories: the “perfect warrior” or the “love interest.”

“Perfect warriors” are athletically-inclined, stubborn, and linear-thinking (think Tris from the Divergent series). While these characteristics aren’t inherently problematic, too many of the characters that fit this description have awfully similar personalities. Writers should be wary of tropes and push themselves to make characters unique; there

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