As I wait for a response on “The Big Game” and begin my next project, I’m immediately confronted by a growing issue. It’s an issue we’re seeing a lot more of these days. Some say it’s from excessive liberal activism. Some say it’s a direct response to Bella Swan. Whatever it is, we can’t escape it. Strong female characters are in demand. People want them. Producers are trying to make them. Nobody has a clue how and sometimes it shows. Just look at the response to this year’s Ghostbusters trailer.
Now I don’t claim to be an expert on third-wave feminism, pop culture criticism, and the workings of gender politics. I also don’t claim that all the female characters in my books are “strong female characters.” I understand that some of the female characters in “Skin Deep” and “The Secrets of Sadfur Island” play into certain tropes. They kind of have to for the story I’m trying to tell. That said, I do make an effort at strong female characters. Jani’s character in “Jackpot” is my latest effort. Not saying it’s perfect, but it is an effort.
With my next project, I’m going to try and make an even greater effort. While one of the main characters in this story is going to be a man, the character that ends up moving the plot forward most is a woman. I decided early on that I want this woman to fit the characteristics of a strong female character. I don’t expect her to fit perfectly, but I want to make the effort.
I’ve already run into some issues. For one, I ended up changing her name once already. Not sure that’s a sign of anything, but if I can’t even come up with a firm name for a character, then I’d say that means the concept needs refinement. I’m also trying to give her a distinct personality. The first scene she’s in is a bit heavy to say the least. Already, I’m concerned that she’s coming off as too harsh and not feminine enough. I don’t want an angry ball-buster type woman. I want a female character that is actually likable and genuine.
This is definitely going to be an ongoing struggle. As The Mary Sue, a feminist pop culture website, points out, strong female characters don’t always come off as strong or as feminine as we think. I want to try and avoid that pitfall. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think it’s one that’s worth taking on. As I said earlier, the demand for strong female characters is growing. It’s going to take a while really get a feel for what defines this concept, but I’m going to try and do my part.