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March 5, 2009

When I first started writing my novel, I knew very little about the plot. I’ve never been able to map out a story before I write it, figuring out each twist and turn until I reach the level of Boy-Scout preparedness.

I did, however, know my characters, as they’d been forming in my mind for several years. I’ve always been drawn to stories featuring strong, capable women, so I knew my main character would exude those qualities, but I also wanted her to have to work for her superhero stripes.

In other words, she starts out weak(ish) and winds up strong. That’s over-simplifying, but you get the gist.

What I didn’t want was to write another Xena or Buffy or Lara Croft. Not that I have anything against those characters, but I envisioned a woman much like you or me, caught in a struggle for her life and forced to rely on her God-given strengths to survive.

Nothing mythic, nothing sci-fi, nothing magical.

I have, however, introduced a male character, and I’ve been struggling with how to lay out the story. I want this male character to play a pivotal role in my heroine’s success, but I don’t want it to seem as though she couldn’t succeed on her own.

Nothing irks me more than stories in which women are constantly portrayed as the damsels in distress. I don’t really consider myself a feminist, but I do believe that women bring far more to the table than boobs and hips.

On the flip side, I don’t want to make it seems as though women cannot ask for help when they need it. My husband supports me, as I support him, and we work through problems together. Our individual strengths complement one another, and there have been many times where I have needed his help.

I think I’m getting my knickers in a twist over nothing. Perhaps I’m short-changing potential readers, not believing that they will understand the subtlety of what I’m trying to convey. Nevertheless, I’m wary of writing a story in which the heroine is saved by the knight in shining armor.

Perhaps, if I’m going to get all obsessive over this, I should just transform my main character into Bat Girl and get it over with.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2009 12:40 pm

    I know what you’re talking about. For me, I’m obsessed with avoiding writing a female character who could be described as “feisty”. You know, one of those wise-cracking, smart-as-a-whip, perky heroines. Seriously, just kill me now.

  2. Sam Tamlyn permalink*
    March 5, 2009 2:42 pm

    Right? I guess it was a unique idea at first, but the same woman is written over and over again in literature. And don’t forget, she’s gotta be supermodel-gorgeous. I’d much rather write about real women.

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