Friday, August 16, 2013

Do I write strong female characters?

I'm pretty sure I've described my heroines thusly before, but this article makes me think that maybe I didn't, and that's not a bad thing.

What writers and readers really want, I think, are characters that are real. Writing someone who is always strong and always right is exhausting, and readers who have to read about those people quickly lose their motivation to continue with their story (at least, this reader does).

In The Smartest Girl in the Room, Emily does a couple of things for her friends that you might expect a man her age to do. I didn't put that in to make her "strong", and some people are going to question to what extent it shows she's courageous. It shows she's willing to take risks, but (spoiler alert?) that's one of the questions I'm asking in the book: at what point is a risk brave, and at what point is it foolish? Perhaps as a corollary, does the former make you "strong" and the latter make you "weak"? More to the point, does being weak on occasion mean that you aren't allowed likable or readable?

Gosh, I hope not, because I'm going to keep writing about people who try, sometimes fail, but never give up. If that's strong, swell, but I prefer to call it "human".

"Whether I'm strong or weak is irrelevant to whether I can solve this case- which of course I can."