There’s tons of talk about how (and how not) to write a good female character. Here’s five of my favorite fictional females and what makes them so awesome.
1. Katniss Everdeen- The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Let’s start with an easy one, shall we? She’s super competent, but only in realistic areas (like survival). Anything else throws her (like feelings). Katniss has a decided preference for certain hobbies (even after she doesn’t need to hunt, she continues to do so). With the exception of artistic stuff, it’s rare for someone to have a hobby in fiction, but it’s a great little detail that makes a character more lifelike.
Another detail I really like about her is how, though she’s normally pretty down-to-earth and practical, she loves the styles Cinna makes for her. As someone with an on-off relationship with fashion too, I appreciated seeing a portrayal of someone who doesn’t completely shun ‘girly’ stuff while still being mostly bored by it. It’s a nice change from the normal, hyper-masculine ‘strong’ female characters in fiction.
2. Amberle Elessedil- The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
You may have heard of her from the
terrible tv show, The Shannara Chronicles. The book Amberle is quite a bit different, and she’s awesome. She’s not a great fighter because there’s no reason she would be: she’s basically a glorified guardian gardener princess.
She’s very emotional; she’s willing to cry, is clearly terrified over what the Ellcrys tells her, and falls in love with Wil, her protector. Because of this, her decision to go on the Ellcrys’s quest and her ultimate sacrifice are that much more powerful. Normally, female characters can’t show too much emotion because then ‘they can’t be strooOng!!1!’ Girls cry. Guys cry, too. Displays of emotion, which are typically dismissed as shows of weakness, actually highlight a character’s strengths because it shows they need strength; what they’re doing isn’t easy for them.
3. Rey- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Rey’s so cool. She can take care of herself after years of having to, but she’s definitely not the normal jaded survivor. She still has a childlike wonder of the world around her- for the resistance, for Han Solo, for trees…
Also, her enthusiasm is awesome. I mean, look above at how excited she is after fixing the Millennium Falcon! It never weakened her character to have her act young or enthusiastic, but there’s very few characters like her out there.
4. Emilia Stozek- Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Spoilers for this amazing book. Emilia is only fifteen when, pregnant, she has to flee her homeland from the German soldiers of World War II. She lies to herself and those around her about her recent past to cope with it, and latches onto an unwilling ‘knight’ to protect her. But she does cope, and her need for a protector, for someone she can rely on, is completely understandable. It makes her very human.
When her baby was born, she had every reason to shun her (and does, at first). But she grows past that and learns to love her, despite her conception. Her story is tragic, but Emilia did the best she could in her situation.
5. Violet Baudelaire- A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
This is based on the books. Violet, newly orphaned, visibly draws strength from the only family ties she has left: her siblings. The Baudelaire orphans learn throughout the series that no one is going to ‘rescue’ them from their unfortunate circumstances and they only have each other to rely on.
She, like Katniss, has a distinct hobby that happens to help her in life. Her inventive skills, supported by her brother’s literary knowledge and her sister’s teeth, help them all stay half a step ahead of the villainous Count Olaf. Violet’s character isn’t a message to girls that they can take care of themselves, it’s a message to people that you have to take care of yourself and those closest to you.
Amberle and Emilia are very feminine. The other women have varying degrees of ‘girliness,’ just like women do in real life. What’s so awesome about these characters is that they’re not ‘great female characters,’ they’re just great characters, who happen to be female and are written realistically so.
Who are your favorite fictional ladies?