They say you haven’t made it in the literary world until you have a handful of scathing, one-star reviews. I remember reading my first one with wide eyes and a pounding heart. The reviewer not only attacked every facet of my characters and story, she attacked me as a person. She called me a weak woman for writing a weak heroine. I know that reviews are written for readers and not authors, but in my opinion, reviews should always be constructive before they’re negative and vicious. I don’t think I’ve ever escaped those words fully. As an author, I love my characters. So much so that I give them a multitude of my own characteristics. Yep. Gross. Guess that makes me weak, right? Thanks, scathing review. *tear formed of character blood rolls down my cheek*
I’ve thought a lot about what makes a character weak, and I don’t think it’s any one thing. This observation is confirmed by the fact that the next character I wrote is one of the STRONGEST women I’ve ever read/will ever write.(Morg, anyone?) Her actions were labeled as ball-busting, and of character so strong that some were unable to connect with her or understand her decisions. Wait. What? She’s strong. She’s independent. She knows what she wants and would never settle. So, where is the line? That magical place where a heroine isn’t a doormat, but she isn’t too strong either?
In fucking Unicorn Utopia. That’s where.
One woman’s strength is another woman’s weakness and vice versa. A woman may truly feel an instant attraction and fall into bed with a man on a first date.*Let’s have another round!* Another wouldn’t dream of it. *Modest is Hottest, Yo.* Without weakness, strength cannot exist. They need each other. Every single choice we make is grounded in our strengths. Our failures? Those things that happen which are out of our control? That is weakness. How fair is it to slap a label on something that happens organically? Oftentimes, it’s when we’re feeling puny, fragile and dare it say, weak, that monumental strengths are formed.
She gave the dude a second or third chance. Awesome. She’s skilled in forgiveness and tolerance. Insta-Love. Well, just because you haven’t felt it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. She’s an optimist, a grab-an-opportunity-when-it-hits-you-in-the-vagina type of girl. She made such horrible decisions. They were her decisions.You don’t have to like them, or agree with them. Lucky for you, you just have to read them.Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and all that, you know?
I could wax poetic for days about the things I’ve seen about “weak heroines.” I understand, but then again I don’t. I mean, I am the woman who wrote a book about a non-submissive submissive, so do with that what you will. I write, and I hope all of my colleagues continue to write, flawed, and holy-shit-yes, weak heroines. I hope they make awful decisions and end up in angsty, tormented places.
I hope they cry, fight and love bravely. I hope they are real, and I hope they pick themselves up from the rose scented ashes (because they are fucking ladies, not SEALs) and grasp their happily ever afters.
How do you write a strong heroine, then?
Give her a vagina and name her Max. She’ll do the rest.