Strong Female Character Cliches to Avoid
It seems like everybody these days is trying to write “strong” female characters. In and of itself, this is a great thing. Women are strong and should be perceived that way, but now writing a strong female character has become its own stereotype. So how do we write truly strong female characters, the ones we look up to and love? Let’s take a look at some clichés to avoid.
- She hates all things girly. Dresses? Yuck. Forget fashion, doing your nails, and make up. This girl is the anti-girl and a cliché. Liking “girly” things is not a weakness and not the antithesis of a strong character. She can like skirts and still be strong. One good example of this dynamic is Vin from the Mistborn series. She lives off the street for most of her life and feels strange when she first wears dresses as she passes for nobility, but she also finds that a part of her loves the dresses and dances. And she’s still a super strong character.
- She’s inexplicably good at “guy” things. Changing the oil in her truck? Check. Hand to hand fighting? She’ll take you down. But it’s a mistake to equate strong with “masculine.” It also doesn’t always make sense for your female character to be a pro at these things. Don’t give her a random skill just to seem strong. One good example of having skills that make sense is Tris from Divergent. All the skills she has she gains from her training in Dauntless, so each skill makes sense as she masters it. She’s not just given skills at random, she earns them.
- She’s a trophy. If you replaced your female character with a sexy lamp, would the plot change? If not, you need to rethink your character. She should never be a prize to be won or a trophy for another character. Give her a goal to work towards and have her act and affect the plot. Give her agency within the story. One good example of this is Hermione from the Harry Potter series. Hermione affects the plot in major ways and is a main character. She’s never there just to be a love interest to either of the main characters.
- She has zero personality aside from a troubled past. She’s closed off and a bit of a jerk when she’s not kicking ass. She’s also cliché and unlikeable. Make sure to give her a personality and keep in mind that showing emotions is its own kind of strength. She’s human, not a robot. One good example of this is Annabeth from the Percy Jackson series. She’s had a troubled past but she doesn’t let it change her into an unsocial and closed off person. She has a personality and a good one at that.
Remember that your character is a human first. A complex, flawed human that should be a fully fleshed out character. Who are your favorite strong female characters? What about them do you love so much? Share below and happy writing.
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