You read it all the time. Fictional character “Conquering Cathy” is strong because of x-y-z. She’s strong because of this, because she has had to endure that, because, because, because…
Funny thing is half of the time I’m not buying it. An author telling me a character is strong is almost a guaranteed way for me to disregard what they say. Show me that this characterization is true. Not that it should matter.
Being able to persevere in the face of any adversity is a great trait. The last thing I want to see is a bundle of nerves in human (or whatever physical makeup the character has) constantly wailing at the injustices of their world, but never doing anything to change it. I take greater offense to those same “wailing-Wandas” who say “I’m strong”. No, no you’re not. Stop saying that.
Now, I can get into the same boat as other authors who ask the question (a valid one) as to why female characters need to be classified as “strong” when their male counterparts do not. I wonder that myself and I try not to write so-called “strong” female characters, nor do I focus on writing “strong” male characters. I just write characters.
I want my characters to struggle, flounder in their seemingly ineptitude and persevere over the obstacles I’ve
haphazardly strategically placed in their lives. Notice I said characters, which naturally includes my males. Also, males cry…Perish the thought. Yes I’ve written alpha males who aren’t so barbaric as to have real emotions and be secure and “manly” enough to share them. Still I refuse to believe that makes my male characters “strong”. It just makes them–dare I say it?–real.
Real people struggle. Real people fail and real people triumph. That is the notion of people in our real world. It is my responsibility as an author to write real people, even if they come with kickass powers and live on fictional planets. Their realness makes them relatable which directly plays into their believability. And there is nothing more important to me than you believing (and loving) the words I
strategically haphazardly place on the page. Fiction is my grand lie, but all good lies are based on the truth, right? What better truth than to base it on the nature of people.
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