Writing Strong Female Characters

So what does the term Strong Female Character mean to you?

It seems it has become something of a marketing tool, something to be used when a writer or producer wants to make sure that women are adequately represented in film or fiction. According to this article, a lot of female characters are cast with just that in mind rather than any actual purpose to further the story. A female character is portrayed as feisty, strong-willed and full of beans, only to be cast aside without a second thought when the real hero of the story comes along to save the world.

There is always an element of surprise when a female character does something that would be a matter of course for a male character. Why is it so unusual for a girl to choose her quest over her love interest? Why is it when she is the one with the powers, he has to show her how to use them correctly? Why is she so caught up in the intensity of her feelings for him that she gets sidetracked from her mission?

Is that how we see women in real life? As seemingly strong, but always ready to throw their own ambitions aside when the right man comes along? I hope not.

Because I see strong women, young and old, all around me. So it shouldn’t be so difficult to write characters who are real women, with real fears and weaknesses, but also with the strength to overcome them. And maybe the young girls who are reading about these characters will see their own reflection in them.

Author: sabina khan

Sabina Khan is the author of THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI (Spring 2019/Scholastic) . She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, two daughters and the world's best puppy.

2 thoughts on “Writing Strong Female Characters”

  1. I agree with you on this entirely. A strong female character should be able to play with or against the boys on equal terms. And not be in scantily clad armor to show off her feminine form :/

    And it is terrible when an author tries so hard to make the female “strong” that they don’t allow her to have feelings. That bugs me. If she doesn’t feel grief/ loss/joy/love then she’s not real to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely true. I feel the same way. Being afraid of the unknown or needing time to deal with something while you gather your strength is not a sign of weakness. Rather, I feel that recognizing your own shortcomings is a sign of maturity and better equips you to deal with what’s to come. I dislike characters that are too sure of themselves and never have a moment of self-doubt. Who is really like that?


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