Just Another Run of the Mill She-Ra

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.

I want it BAD, baby

Here is a familiar topic we all know and love…the villain! I don’t know why I feel like discussing this type of character. Perhaps it’s because I’m finally at a point in my story where I’ve started to write about him, or maybe it’s some other physiological reason unbeknown to me. (lol) Now, I’m not trying to explain how to create a good villain. We all have different opinions about that. But I do want to know the answer to at least one of my question, why does society love a scoundrel?

Some might object, claiming no one loves the bad guy. I hope they are correct. However, let me tell you this. I was a classroom teacher last year. On special occasions, I handed out coloring pages for good behavior or on those rare treats like the day before Christmas. I had this Star Wars coloring book I used for the boys, and they liked it. But the boys didn’t want a picture of Luke or Han. Every single time they wanted to color Darth Vader! Even when I told them they shouldn’t always want to color the bad guy, I would still only have one or two call out, “I like coloring the good guy, teacher!”

If that wasn’t proof enough, answer me, what takes our breath away when we go see the latest movie? What makes us ‘feel’ when we read the newest novel from our favorite author? You will say, “When the protagonist is in trouble, silly!” But why should we care about the protagonist? Don’t bother me with how many times Clark Kent goes to work everyday for the newspaper and bumps into things. WHO CARES! Frankly, it starts to get annoying.

My theory is simple, the amount we care about Superman winning at the end of the movie is dependent upon the relationship he has with Lex Luther. For every good, there is an evil, for every ying, there is a yang. The bad guy is as important, if not more than, the good and pure guy. Besides, if Lex Luther was a sorry ass villain, then Superman’s victory wouldn’t be near as thrilling as when Lex is about to push the button to blow up America. It’s no wonder we love villains. Without them, we have no story, we have no plot. We have nothing but a fancy pants.

Sometimes, there’s the dark hero plagued by internal conflict. This conflict is more sinister than usual. But villains don’t have to be a second person. They can be the hero like with Batman, who is sometimes viewed as a savior and other times an evil doer. I would go as far as to say Bale, in American Psycho, is another example. Yes, he goes around cutting people up, but the odd thing about it, he’s the only person who can stop his madness. Every so often you see a glimpse of that “hero” in the movie, even though it never wins. (And yes, I do love me some Christian Bale) I find myself yaying for the hero part of that movie, hoping he will change his ways. Why? Because the villain is so evil, such an ‘extact opposite’ to the hero, that I can’t help but want good to win.

Authors, love your villains and treat them with care. They do so much for us. The least you can do back is give them a bloody, glorious death. They wouldn’t want it any other way. 😉