Having been a child in the 80’s, I remember playing with the collectable She-Ra dolls. The main girl was She-Ra who was the twin sister of He-Man. She-Ra was all powerful, smart, had special mind powers, and was stunningly beautiful. This made her the perfect heroine, right?
A common critique I hear from other women about a heroine is that she isn’t powerful enough. There is this certain belief which some think heroines need to be strong mentally and physically. I have gotten this critique about my girl characters before. I think the whole powerful, strong, female type is a way to go. It works, but it doesn’t have to be like that every time. More importantly, I believe it shouldn’t be the most important focus.
To me, the author should pay more attention to the growth of the character. Things like how strong she is physically and mentally are minor details that can be worked out in the writing process later. They are a step above hair and eye color. I actually like to see a female character be more timid and demure at first. Then as the book progresses and there’s character growth, she can emerge as a strong, independent woman. When a book unfolds this way, I feel it’s more of an accomplishment than the other way around. Maybe it’s a bigger jump to start from the bottom up or to start with nothing and end with something; however you can’t help but feel satisfied with the journey by the time it’s finished.
If a story starts off telling me how perfect the heroine is and how she “takes crap from no one” I tend to dislike her. Plus, I find it annoying. In order to pull this off, the author needs to make sure they show her softer side, that she isn’t as perfect as she thinks she is. In reality, who likes a bitchy girl who never really understands any other point of view but her own? And who has perfect hair, a flawless complexion, and always wins at everything? Not me, so if a heroine is like that, I can’t relate to her. You won’t find this writer making critiques about your character’s female roar power. I’m too interested in her growth, and how it fits into the story you have to tell.