She’s Not a Prop

There seems to be several misconceptions that exist in the fictional world — and in the real world as well, about women. We’re not “catty bitches”. If a woman’s best friend is a guy, she’s not going to hate whatever women he dates. She might dislike ones that mistreat him, but she’s not going to hate that woman instantly, just for talking to her friend. If a woman has a male friend, chances are he’s just a male friend. There normally isn’t some secret, pining love going on in the background. And finally, I feel I must address the belief so many seem to harbor, that pitting ladies against each other is necessary. It’s not. It’s trite. It’s old. It’s just plain boring. It’s this last one that I’m going to discuss.

People like strong female leads, and they want to see strong female leads. They don’t want to hear about the myth of the strong female lead. A strong female lead can accept help, being rescued isn’t the end of the world. They can start out quiet and shy, they can end quiet and shy. But they don’t let people walk all over them. They grow and they learn, and in the end they kick ass.

This isn’t achieved by making two female characters go head to head. Who would win in a fight? Who wears what better? No one cares. They want to see the ladies kicking ass, together, against a common enemy. They don’t want to see the ladies bickering the whole damn book and hating each other. It’s overdone. And there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, worse than having two female characters go at it over a guy.

Write strong ladies. Write ladies who help each other rather than tearing each other down. Write ladies who aren’t a side note to the men in the book. Write ladies with a real purpose. No one wants to read your book where the woman is the equivalent of a fluffer. She shouldn’t be there to feed someones ego. In closing, if a major part of your plot is two women fighting over something trivial, in a search to see who is —by some unfathomable standard—better, then you’re doing something wrong.

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2 thoughts on “She’s Not a Prop

  1. I don’t want to see strong women in my fiction. I also don’t want to see strong men.

    Strong characters are boring. Give me flawed ones. Give me characters who sturggle against their flaws. That’s what the human experience is like. Life keeps throwing at us challenges, but these challenges always relate to our flaws.

    Writing a strong woman is as easy as writing a weak one. That’s her whole character. It’s much more interesting to write an interesting, flawed and complex female character. I don’t make my femle characters strong. I make them just as flawed as the male ones.

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  2. Thanks for writing this! I agree that women should be portrayed in different ways. Women can be strong, brave, and intelligent. If the media and society can learn to accept this and show female characters in a different light, then I think we can make some progress.

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