A Question On Strong Female Leads

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  jmurph65641 4 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #346802

    jmurph65641
    Participant

    I just had a question pop up today on strong female leads. A little background first, I was watching a show for the first time and ended up turning it off after a few minutes. I just can’t stand “strong female characters” This character was obvious to me as a man hating feminist agenda character as I like to call them. One thing that sticks out about this character is that they are stubborn towards men or authority types. Bashing men, and you know the I am better than a man type.

    This concerned me, I started wondering if I have a character kind of like this. I find them 2 Dimensional. Here’s background on my character. My female is damaged, she learns to become independent though, over time through out the series. She is very co-dependent to begin with stemming from abuse and usury. She is stubborn and obstinate, but isn’t this way to just men, she just generally has a crappy attitude towards people in general. She starts off very cynical and anti-religion in the story and later finds spirituality and opens her eyes to the beauty of the world. She has to do things for herself, not because she is independent but doesn’t want to be seen as weak and deep down inside seeks approval. In my fantasy she is a mercenary later in her life and her stubbornness bites her in the arse a lot. She over time learns to listen to her brother and her lover, but still has a very unhealthy co-dependent relationship with male figures. She deep down inside attaches her value and self-worth to how others see her, especially men. Her father was really cruel to her. It presents a lot of communication, trust, and basic societal integration skill problems. Over time she has to learn how to love herself and not attach her self-worth to whether or not someone loves her or likes her. She is kind and loving, yet can be very abrasive and stupid at times, she develops a motherly atmosphere later when her brother has a son, becoming the boy’s god parent. She becomes soften by the child. So its not like she is a beast all the time.

    For me I started attaching certain behaviors in my mind to the feminist agenda/ or the strong female character. The obstinate I can do anything better than you, stubborn types. In my mind I think these are not endearing traits for a woman or a man to posses. Instead I don’t think of a person as strong when they have these traits but vain, and misguided, though Hollywood has done a great job of convincing us otherwise. For me they are flaws to overcome, traits that are both annoying and irritating in people. So I am worried she will be perceived as a feminist agenda/ strong female character and I really just want to tell a story give my characters flaws to overcome, and leave politics out of my life in general. So much for that with this discussion though… :/

    My husband said people are going to make what they want out of whatever and you can’t stop them. I understand this and all, but don’t like the idea of people using my writing to further their political bs…. And I for some reason am getting a vibe that my FLC will be putting out strong female character agenda vibes. When really I have carefully crafted her and my boys over so many long years. I want to have a physically strong/emotionally crippled female fantasy heroine in my heroic troupe, but since everyone these days thinks of FLC as those types of characters how do you get away from it? In a lot of my favorite sword and sorcery fantasies or heroic fantasies you have a group of heroes men and women fighting side by side. They all compliment each others short comings, sometimes they don’t always get along but they still at the end of the day are friends. This is my target goal. If anything I want people to love all of my protagonists and even my antagonists. I don’t want to come away hearing how people hate my FLC because they find her 2d. Instead I want them to look at her and see her and my male characters as a role model as people with realistic flaws and people who can learn, grow, and change. I see too many people these days let their pasts define them as individuals and I want to show people that they don’t have to be unhealthy. That they can aspire, grow, and change to become someone successful.

  • #655566

    Anonymous

    If I may be blunt, you’re in dangerous waters.

    When you write with an agenda in mind, either for or against said agenda, it’s very easy to wind up preaching on that agenda.

    Try to forget such agendas, would be my recommendation. Think about your characters as people. She doesn’t hate men because of a feminist agenda, and it doesn’t even have to be an agenda at all. Heck, I could even sympathize with her if, for example, the three men she’s loved the most (at all?) all betrayed her. Father left, boyfriend raped her, and uncle blamed her for the rape. I would expect such a woman to have major issues with men that would not be easily resolved. And not because her story mirrors some perceived agenda.

    This is all heavily simplified, but I hope you see what I’m getting at. Make your characters real people. Not exemplars of some agenda (or it’s counter).

    Remember, it’s statistically impossible to please everyone. Don’t worry about what people *might* say. Just be real with (and for) your characters.

  • #655567

    jmurph65641
    Participant

    RobTheThird wrote:
    > If I may be blunt, you’re in dangerous waters.
    >
    > When you write with an agenda in mind, either for or against said agenda,
    > it’s very easy to wind up preaching on that agenda.
    >
    > Try to forget such agendas, would be my recommendation. Think about your
    > characters as people. She doesn’t hate men because of a feminist agenda,
    > and it doesn’t even have to be an agenda at all. Heck, I could even
    > sympathize with her if, for example, the three men she’s loved the most (at
    > all?) all betrayed her. Father left, boyfriend raped her, and uncle blamed
    > her for the rape. I would expect such a woman to have major issues with
    > men that would not be easily resolved. And not because her story mirrors
    > some perceived agenda.
    >
    > This is all heavily simplified, but I hope you see what I’m getting at.
    > Make your characters real people. Not exemplars of some agenda (or it’s
    > counter).
    >
    > Remember, it’s statistically impossible to please everyone. Don’t worry
    > about what people *might* say. Just be real with (and for) your
    > characters.

    I totally agree with you but my issue is that I don’t want to write any agendas into my story at all for or against anything. I know that may be an impossible feat. I just want to write something old school, like where entertainment is entertainment and agenda’s don’t pollute works. Like how TV used to be good but now its garbage… I just want to write a story but I’m afraid people are going to turn it into something its not. Sorry if I gave a misunderstanding. I’m just frustrated right now. I just want people with basic/complicated issues. I’m irritated at how much politics have seeped into everything that I feel like no matter what I do I’m writing them in. :/ It troubles me because everything has a label, everything can be turned into something its not anymore to suit someones selfish motives… The last forum I was on. I left because everyone solely focused on politics in everything. I went to post up an excerpt and literally got attacked by feminists over my favorite male character and a decision he makes… So it really left a bad taste in my mouth. I know this was 7 months ago but maybe this ended up impacting me more than I thought? Maybe what I’m really suffering from is a confidence problem… :/

  • #655568

    Anonymous

    As Rob said, people will read whatever they want into stories. I’ve read so many interviews with authors who find the “theme discussions” of their works laughable. “I just wrote a story” or “That’s not at all what I meant” are common responses. That doesn’t stop readers from deciding for the author what they meant, so there’s really no point in worrying about it.

    As to “strong female leads”, I understand your frustration. Too many writers (whether it be prose, TV, or movies) seem to think that “strong women” = “female dogs”. They can’t be warm, they can’t be nurturing, they can’t even have a sense of humor (unless it’s biting sarcasm). Certain authors fully intend to beat people over the head with whatever their current political/social passion is, of course, but I think in general it’s more a failure to write full developed characters and less about some kind of perceived agenda. In other words, it’s just lazy writing.

  • #655569

    Anonymous

    LadySeshiiria wrote:
    > I totally agree with you but my issue is that I don’t want to write any agendas into
    > my story at all for or against anything. I know that may be an impossible feat. I
    > just want to write something old school, like where entertainment is entertainment
    > and agenda’s don’t pollute works. Like how TV used to be good but now its garbage…
    > I just want to write a story but I’m afraid people are going to turn it into
    > something its not.

    Well, let’s put it this way: Guaranteed, that’s going to happen. I mean, look at The Bible. Look at how many religions have come to being over disagreements over what it does or does not say. A while back, there was a TV show called West Wing. There was a fantastic moment in that show when President Bartlett railed on an anti-gay religious celebrity in the White House. He asked about the proper protocol for selling his daughter into slavery. About whether he should kill his staff himself or if the Secret Service could kill them for working on The Sabbath. All things that, if read literally, The Bible actually says.

    > Sorry if I gave a misunderstanding. I’m just frustrated right now.
    > I just want people with basic/complicated issues. I’m irritated at how much politics
    > have seeped into everything that I feel like no matter what I do I’m writing them in.
    > :/ It troubles me because everything has a label, everything can be turned into
    > something its not anymore to suit someones selfish motives… The last forum I was
    > on. I left because everyone solely focused on politics in everything. I went to post
    > up an excerpt and literally got attacked by feminists over my favorite male character
    > and a decision he makes… So it really left a bad taste in my mouth. I know this was
    > 7 months ago but maybe this ended up impacting me more than I thought? Maybe what I’m
    > really suffering from is a confidence problem… :/
    Remember: You’re not going to be there when some reader somewhere in the world picks up your work to read it. There is no chance to explain what you meant.

    Look, no one wants you to fail. Not even those feminists. They took time to read and to respond. Even if you choose to reject their critiques, realize that you got them impassioned by what you wrote. Think about that. What you wrote meant enough to them to get them to speak about it.

    What if they’d instead gone, “Meh, not worth my time.”? One funny saying that I learned in the US Navy was, “If the Chief is yelling at you, he still sees potential in you. It’s when he goes quiet that you’re in deep trouble.”

    So yeah, I think it’s a confidence problem. Write the story.

    Just… write.

  • #655570

    debbieolch
    Participant

    I believe if you give the female character agency most of the rest works out (unless you’re rather clueless or are soapboxing).

  • #655571

    jmurph65641
    Participant

    DrG2 wrote:
    > I believe if you give the female character agency most of the rest works out (unless
    > you’re rather clueless or are soapboxing).

    Yeah I agree, I never liked the soap boxing thing. No my issue here was I started getting online last year around October and began reading things on becoming better at writing. I have been writing before this independently and was doing my own thing, but I think I’m over-analyzing things and all of these articles I’ve been reading have been making me over-critical of everything. Perhaps I should take a step back from writers blogs in general or forums, this is where this problem originated from, was another forum. When writing my story I never once thought about agenda or politics. Honestly, its been a recent thing with the above mentioned incident on another forum. My male character was called a villain and a rapist, and a polygamist… He never did any of that so I don’t understand where the interpretations were coming from.
    Shortened version of the story he essentially married a lady who went nuts and tried to drown their baby. He rescued the baby but in a fit of rage drowned his wife. While the action is quite well beyond a decent man, its still the don’t f with papa bear thing. I got the forced pregnancy talk down from several feminists and he’s evil sort of thing… Idk about any one else here but its a fantasy and if you were royalty or nobility you would do anything to protect you legacy. Am I right? Like I said it left a bad taste in my mouth. (I don’t think he’s evil I just think he made a terrible mistake and let his emotions over-ride his judgment.)
    RobTheThird wrote:
    > LadySeshiiria wrote:
    > > I totally agree with you but my issue is that I don’t want to write any agendas
    > into
    > > my story at all for or against anything. I know that may be an impossible feat.
    > I
    > > just want to write something old school, like where entertainment is entertainment
    > > and agenda’s don’t pollute works. Like how TV used to be good but now its garbage…
    > > I just want to write a story but I’m afraid people are going to turn it into
    > > something its not.
    >
    > Well, let’s put it this way: Guaranteed, that’s going to happen. I mean, look at
    > The Bible. Look at how many religions have come to being over disagreements over
    > what it does or does not say. A while back, there was a TV show called West Wing.
    > There was a fantastic moment in that show when President Bartlett railed on an
    > anti-gay religious celebrity in the White House. He asked about the proper protocol
    > for selling his daughter into slavery. About whether he should kill his staff himself
    > or if the Secret Service could kill them for working on The Sabbath. All things
    > that, if read literally, The Bible actually says.
    >
    > > Sorry if I gave a misunderstanding. I’m just frustrated right now.
    > > I just want people with basic/complicated issues. I’m irritated at how much politics
    > > have seeped into everything that I feel like no matter what I do I’m writing them
    > in.
    > > :/ It troubles me because everything has a label, everything can be turned into
    > > something its not anymore to suit someones selfish motives… The last forum I
    > was
    > > on. I left because everyone solely focused on politics in everything. I went to
    > post
    > > up an excerpt and literally got attacked by feminists over my favorite male character
    > > and a decision he makes… So it really left a bad taste in my mouth. I know this
    > was
    > > 7 months ago but maybe this ended up impacting me more than I thought? Maybe what
    > I’m
    > > really suffering from is a confidence problem… :/
    > Remember: You’re not going to be there when some reader somewhere in the world picks
    > up your work to read it. There is no chance to explain what you meant.
    >
    > Look, no one wants you to fail. Not even those feminists. They took time to read
    > and to respond. Even if you choose to reject their critiques, realize that you
    > got them impassioned by what you wrote. Think about that. What you wrote meant
    > enough to them to get them to speak about it.
    >
    > What if they’d instead gone, “Meh, not worth my time.”? One funny saying that I
    > learned in the US Navy was, “If the Chief is yelling at you, he still sees potential
    > in you. It’s when he goes quiet that you’re in deep trouble.”
    >
    > So yeah, I think it’s a confidence problem. Write the story.
    >
    > Just… write.

    This is good advice thank you, and your right maybe I should be happy that anyone was willing to look at it in the first place even if it did turn into a roasty debate. I’m sad though that I never received any actual feedback on the particular piece itself. I guess that’s a hit and miss thing. I thought critiques (from an artists pov here) were supposed to be constructive and encourage better writing or help a person find and fix flaws? Could I have missed the critique? I’ll just write then, I think its going to be better for me to pull away from writers blogs and sites for a bit. While I can handle critiques and feedback, and I’ve got some good roasty ones from the structural and grammatical side, I can’t do the political agenda everyone has. :/ Its tedious. I guess it can’t be avoided. Thanks for the anecdote on the Navy, that makes me feel better.

    ostarella wrote:
    > As Rob said, people will read whatever they want into stories. I’ve read so
    > many interviews with authors who find the “theme discussions” of
    > their works laughable. “I just wrote a story” or “That’s not
    > at all what I meant” are common responses. That doesn’t stop readers
    > from deciding for the author what they meant, so there’s really no point in
    > worrying about it.
    >
    > As to “strong female leads”, I understand your frustration. Too
    > many writers (whether it be prose, TV, or movies) seem to think that
    > “strong women” = “female dogs”. They can’t be warm,
    > they can’t be nurturing, they can’t even have a sense of humor (unless it’s
    > biting sarcasm). Certain authors fully intend to beat people over the head
    > with whatever their current political/social passion is, of course, but I
    > think in general it’s more a failure to write full developed characters and
    > less about some kind of perceived agenda. In other words, it’s just lazy
    > writing.

    Yeah I guess I should get used ot saying that as well. “That’s not what I meant. Stop your embarrassing both of us!” lol

    I’m glad I put motherly aspects into my female. I honestly think nurturing is wonderful trait.
    Makes sense. I’ve worked really hard to make all of my characters 3d, they have lives, families, friends, fears, hopes, dreams, faults, hobbies the list goes on. I didn’t spare anything. I even took care to do the same with secondary characters, not so much with tertiary ones though since they pop on and off the screen to support world development or character development. Though they won’t lack individuality or a personality. Its the small things.

  • #655572

    Anonymous

    LadySeshiiria wrote:

    > … I have been writing before this independently and was doing my own thing,
    > but I think I’m over-analyzing things and all of these articles I’ve been reading
    > have been making me over-critical of everything. Perhaps I should take a step back
    > from writers blogs in general or forums, this is where this problem originated from

    One of the biggest hurdles for writers is learning NOT to believe everything they’re told about how to write well. It does indeed lead to over-analyzing and thinking that you have to do A, B and C in order to succeed – and yet we look at successful writers (esp those who DON’T write how-to-write articles) and discover they do X, Y and Z! Don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t ignore advice from articles or on forums, but remember it is ADVICE – not law. Some may work for you, some may not – some you just have to tweak a bit to make it work.

    If you want to be writer, be a reader, and a reader of many things. And then – just tell a story.

  • #655573

    jmurph65641
    Participant

    ostarella wrote:
    > LadySeshiiria wrote:
    >
    > > … I have been writing before this independently and was doing my own thing,
    > > but I think I’m over-analyzing things and all of these articles I’ve been
    > reading
    > > have been making me over-critical of everything. Perhaps I should take a step
    > back
    > > from writers blogs in general or forums, this is where this problem originated
    > from
    >
    >
    > One of the biggest hurdles for writers is learning NOT to believe everything they’re
    > told about how to write well. It does indeed lead to over-analyzing and thinking that
    > you have to do A, B and C in order to succeed – and yet we look at successful writers
    > (esp those who DON’T write how-to-write articles) and discover they do X, Y and Z!
    > Don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t ignore
    > advice from articles or on forums, but remember it is ADVICE – not law. Some may work
    > for you, some may not – some you just have to tweak a bit to make it work.
    >
    > If you want to be writer, be a reader, and a reader of many things. And then – just
    > tell a story.

    Thank you. 🙂

  • #655574

    khwybebm50
    Participant

    In Ostarella’s last post to you, she ends with some more great advice, encouragement. I just want to add my .02, for whatever it’s worth:

    …there will be those who will disagree & put your and/or your writing to shut you and your story down. So….you have a story. That’s that, so keep writing it! 🙂
    Diana

  • #655575

    jmurph65641
    Participant

    Shorty3.0 wrote:
    > In Ostarella’s last post to you, she ends with some more great advice,
    > encouragement. I just want to add my .02, for whatever it’s worth:
    >
    > …there will be those who will disagree & put your and/or your writing
    > to shut you and your story down. So….you have a story. That’s that, so
    > keep writing it! 🙂
    > Diana

    Thank you.

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