Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The "Strong Female Character"

I've been seeing a lot of talk about "strong female characters" online, and I figured it was about time I got my rant on again.

You might have seen statements such as this: "Since when did strong female characters become needy, man-obsessed, wet noodles?" Or perhaps not as harsh, but you get the point. People are saying a "strong female character" has to be THIS WAY or she is not, in fact, strong.

I have to admit this kind of irks me. Not that I personally view a needy, man-obsessed, wet noodle as a strong female character, but I hate the way "weak female characters" (for lack of a better phrase) are being belittled.

First, it implies that writers should only be writing strong female characters if they want to write GOOD female characters. As a woman, I feel particular pressure to write this character, and I constantly fear that someone will criticize my female characters for being...well, feminine and weak and two-dimensional.

Yes, I want girls to be strong. Yes, I think women should stand up for themselves and follow their dreams. But at the same time I know that not every women does. Are they unworthy of stories because of that? And besides, what is more interesting than writing about a "weak" character becoming "strong"?

More than that, I find this idea of the "strong female" implies that there is only one way to be strong. I mean, take a look at this flow chart I found on twitter yesterday (via @sarahlapolla):

While it is comical, I also find this drawing sad in way. It's basically saying anyone who falls into any other category is NOT strong. And by saying that it implies they are weak. I'm not sure that's fair. It personally makes me feel a little horrible, because I don't think I'm a strong woman either! Nor do I think I write strong females, apparently.

Does that mean I'm bad? I'm weak? Lesser? I know that's not what this is trying to say, but it kind of feels that way.

I don't think there's one single, exact way for a woman to be strong. I also think your view of strong has a lot to do with your own preferences and beliefs in what strong is.

For example, I personally don't feel like an "over self-sacrificing" female is a weak character, though I know many people do. I think it takes a strong person to sacrifice their own needs for the good of others. Of course there's a line. Of course it can be crossed. But overall this character is someone (male or female) that I usually admire and think is strong.

Of course this is coming from a female who got married at 21, already has 2 kids, and chooses to stay home to take care of them. I know there are people out there who would think I "threw my life away" or that "I'm weak for playing into such blah traditions." But this is what I wanted, and I love my life and don't feel like I missed a thing.

I would never tell someone they should make the same decisions as I did, that the only way to be happy is to do what I did. There are so many ways to live life, and it's up to you to decide how yours will go.

Similarly, there are many ways to be strong, and I hope that we can respect that some of those ways may not be our cup of tea. I don't think that makes them wrong, as long as a person is happy and chooses that path for themselves. I think we should respect the individual strengths in every female character, instead of idealizing the so-called "strong female character."


  1. Well said! There is so much conflict in society about how women are "supposed" to behave, that it's no wonder that comes out in fiction too.

    p.s. I'm an at home mom/writer too. :)

  2. I blogged about this too the other day. :)

    I think a lot of the "examples" they used are strong females: Zoe from Firefly, for one, who is a "Lady of War".

    However, I think the material point is, that to write a strong female character, you have to write a strong character PERIOD.

    1. Does she carry her own story?
    2. Is she three-dimensional?
    3. Is she more than a symbol?
    4. Does she have believable and realistic flaws?
    5. Does she survive to the end of the story?

    You can replace "she" with "he" and the criteria still holds true.

    I have problems with "strong female characters" being strong in a singularly masculine way (cough, Buffy, cough). Just because she can kick your butt eight ways from Sunday doesn't mean she's a strong character.

    P.S. I hate self-sacrificing characters when they turn into martyrs. Mostly it just makes me want to slap them upside the head. It's one thing to sacrifice what you want for the greater good, but if you're sacrificing what you want to please other people, it just irks me.

  3. JJ, it's totally about writing a solid character. I think I just hate the idea of "strong" in general, because of its implications. I'm gonna stick with "solid," because I think "weak" characters can also be "solid."

  4. For me, I don't think "solid" conveys enough--I want a "strong" character, one with whom I can relate, but more than relate: admire. A "solid" character (to me) implies a good one, but is unimaginative/uninteresting.

    But I understand what you mean: the connotations "strong" carries mostly means "strong in a traditionally masculine way" (which I hate).

    Maybe the word I'm looking for is "dynamic" character.

  5. Oooo, dynamic! Yeah! There we go:) Yay, semantics.

  6. Natalie - Love this topic!
    Since when did being a 'strong' female become the same thing as being a man? I think society is pushing equality to a point where we want to pretend there is no difference between a man and woman.
    But there is. And I, for one, am happy to be a woman. Yes, that makes me wired different, but does that difference mean weakness? No.
    I was made to nurture and care for. I want to be soft and kind and think about others. Who wants a mother who kicks you when you're down? Or stands you up and says 'walk it off kid, no crying."
    I think we need to think about our moms when we try to define strong women. Women who can take it all on, would fight to their last breath for you, and love you with a softness and strength you will find nowhere else in your life.
    That's my kind of strong female.
    (oh, and the Secret Agents, Vampire Slayers, Kickboxer ones are fun to read about too.)
    Thanks for the post!

  7. Excellent! I completely agree that the word should be "Dynamic." I don't like the word "strong" the way it is being used now, because it implies that anything other than the butt-kicker is weak. In reality "strong" is just a personality type. An in-your-face kind of person who wants to take charge. Not everyone is like that. And they aren't less valuable because of it. In fact, that type of "strong" can get annoying after a while (to me) and one dimensional.

    Any personality, with it's accompanying tastes and manner of dealing, is valuable. If the character is written dynamically, then people should be able to relate to and enjoy it. After that, we writers just need to decide whether we want the character to be likable or not.

    Love this post. Something that needs to be said more and loudly. By butt-kickers and non-butt-kickers alike.

  8. There's definitely a lot of back and forth pull over what way is the "right" way for a woman to be/act. And there can be arguments made for all of them.

    It's difficult to articulate what separates weak from strong. It can be so slight, such a tiny decision, that makes or breaks a character for me. And I don't always think certain choices are either strong or weak. It's all about balance. If a character is too "strong," it comes across as forced and cartoonish.

    My *personal* definition of a "strong" character is one who's in control of her own story. If she didn't exist, the story wouldn't exist, because she is the catalyst and driving force. Whatever that means is totally up in the air, but as long as she's the hub around which the story turns, and not vice-versa, she's very likely strong.

  9. Natalie,

    Thank you *so* much for this! I've written a female character that doesn't fit neatly into any of those "right" ways to make her strong. She's a wife and mother who thinks nothing of sacrificing for them, and she's also insecure and never feels like she's doing enough.

    Hello? How many real people does this describe? Yet the formula would say that none of us are strong - and I disagree with that.

    My character goes through horrors that would crush a weaker person and she survives and comes out stronger on the other end. I do admire her, stereotypes notwithstanding.

    Er, I'd better stop ranting before I take over your comments. :) I think you might have inspired a blog post for me tomorrow.

  10. Great post, Natalie! There is room for every woman across the fiction spectrum.

  11. And if they don't think it takes a strong woman (or stomach) to change diapers and clean up puke, they are sadly mistaken ;)

  12. I think perhaps the problem is the abundance of female characters -- especially in YA fiction -- who do go too far in self-sacrificing mode. So far that they end up looking like a doormat. It seems to be a trend, so that's probably why there's a certain amount of backlash and wishes for "strong" female characters at the moment.

  13. I am so with you, Natalie! This aspect of writing may needle me more than any other. Thanks for posting about it!

  14. Thanks so much for addressing this topic. That chart is indeed as sad as it is funny. Do we see admonitions that all male characters must be "strong" from beginning to end of the narrative?

    Alas, as some of the commenters have observed, a "strong" female seems to mean a "masculine" (and completely unbelievable) female to an awful lot of people.

    You are so right that there are many, many ways for a woman (or a man) to be strong. And they don't have to involve violence.

    And if she's strong and perfect at the beginning of the book, where's the story? A character has to grow and change.

  15. Great post!

    I don't understand why there's an emphasis on a strong female character at all. We don't point out, puzzle over, or gush about strong male characters.

    My guess is this feeds into the definition of a strong female character, as you point out, which implies she's somehow fitting masculine (strong) gender roles. Can't a woman be strong regardless of whose gender roles she's splashing in? And wouldn't it be nice to see a strong male character, where that strength is defined by his willingness to splash around in the female gender role's expectations of compassion and nurturing?

  16. Thanks for this post. I've lately been ruminating on the same exact subject. As a woman and as a writer and as a READER I find the notion that "there's only one way to be strong" disturbing and frankly a little insulting. I am not a kick-butt sort of person in real life, I can be incredibly clingy and neurotic, and I trip over my own feet and can't wield a sword or whatever, does that mean I'm not a strong person?

    I hate that there seems to be this stereotypical notion that a strong woman = a man with boobs. Strong tends to be equated with physical strength and emotional stubbornness/stoicism.

    I was planning a story idea in my head recently, and the girl in the idea is very girly, a little manipulative, and likes clothes and boys. I stopped and felt this panic because I was worrying that such a character would be deemed "weak" or "anti-feminist" no matter what she learns or overcomes in the book, and therefore I shouldn't write her. I absolutely hate that I had that fear... that I felt the pressure to conform to a single idea of female strength (one I can't personally relate to, for that matter!)

    Anyway, good post.

  17. Ditto what Susan said.

    Also, I'm right there with you and JJ in this comment-discussion. I think the 5 criteria JJ listed do add up to make a strong/solid/dynamic/whatever-we-want-to-call-it character -- and yes, Natalie, to your point, a very feminine gal (or guy) could satisfy all 5!

    So yeah, I like writing about "strong female characters" in that sense.

    I do also like me some kick@$$ female characters, in the Buffy/Zoe sense. But then some of my most beloved heroines are girls like Miaka or Usagi. SFCs? YES! Tough (in the masculine sense)? HAH, not in the least.

  18. I wouldn't worry about being a "strong" female character, you're a human being, and real people don't fit into those cartoon characters. Strong female characters come in all types, and emulating men's behavoir is only one type, although it gets by far the most attention. Really, any character, male or female, who has the skills to cope with the horrors the author visits on them is a strong character.
    Strongly written characters are another topic altogether. That's what authors need to focus on.

  19. I wasn't exactly a fan of that flow-chart either (I saw it the other day, though I totally forget how I found it). I like your take on strong female characters though. Female characters just need to be real, nothing else.

  20. I love this post, and I agree that there are many ways to be strong. Those complexities are what make books -- and people -- interesting.

  21. To be fair, I don't know that people who are critical of "weak" heroines want their female characters to be more "masculine." I have my own personal stances on what makes a character weak or strong, and I tend to personally lean toward independent girls and women with a strong sense of loyalty and quick minds.

    And that's not to say that that's the only type of character I find "real" or "strong," just that it's my personal favorite. And I don't think those traits are masculine at all.

    I tend to balk a little at the idea that EVERY character gets a free pass because we can claim "there's a place for everyone." But in my mind, weak characters have less to do with their personality and more to do with how they're written. I have read heavily flawed/frightened/"weak" characters that I greatly admired because they were written well. Sometimes a character *isn't* coming across in the way we intended. All the better to grow and learn!

    Overall, though, I agree that blanket claims of "If a female character isn't XYZ, then she isn't strong" are a bunch of crap.

  22. Hmmm, very interesting concept! For years, I've been trying to figure out what it means to be a "strong" woman - not just a fictional character. "Dynamic" for a character works, but somehow I just invision "Elastagirl" from Pixar's "Incredibles," which is a great, funny movie, but Helen Parr is not exactly my idea of a "strong" woman. Sure, she's tough, go-get-'em, etc., but her husband can't trust her with his secrets, her children have very little respect for her, and somehow she's the one in charge of everything who manages to make it all stick together. But I digress.

    I think a "strong" female character indicates moral strength. It's the wisdom and understanding that no matter what happens, she will always do the right thing, make the right decision ... or in that one case where she slips, makes a mistake, takes the wrong turn, she can see, admit, and correct her fault. She doesn't have to be aggressive and forceful at all: she can be the most passive, little wallflower in the room, but as long as she chooses good over evil, she is stronger than any number of Batgirls and Carmen Sandiegos and whonot. Take Elinor Dashwood, for example ["sense" from Austen's novel "Sense and Sensiblity]: she hardly says a word, except to correct and calm down her younger, impetuous, sensitive, agressive sister Marianne ["sensibility" - not meaning "sensible," but "sensitive." Sorry, I've just finished writing a paper on this :)]. There is nothing fantastic, marvelous, or particularly extraordinary about her; Elinor is extremely passive, kind and gentle, bearing with all the faults of those around her, generously keeping safe the most precious, burdensome secret of her rival in love ... ! Honestly, what woman would do that? But her price is above rubies. For who shall find a valiant woman? THAT, to me, is what makes a strong female character: an individual, generous, understanding, and valiant enough to stand strong on the side of good, against all odds, to the death if need be - in the case of a fantasy/legendary/sci-fi story - or just until life works itself out ... like for most of us! :)

  23. I don't see why the goal should be "strong". The goal should be what's interesting. Unless you're writing self-help books, of course. If you want to be interesting, strong or weak females can be interesting. Just as strong and weak males can be interesting. There are plenty of books about wet-noodle men who bumble through life. Sometimes I tire of too many similar characters, but that is why there are different authors out there writing different things with different characters of different personalities.

  24. Ok, I just read everyone else's comments. Sorry if I'm repeating anyone! KL Grady: is it true we dont "gush" over strong male chatacters? I mean, isn't Prince Charming every girl's dream? [well, Ok, that was before everyone's fav blood-sucker with sparkly abs. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? ... but I digress.] I personally love the strong male characters; but I guess I would set out the same guidellines for them as I would for the ladies (if you haven't yet, see above!) To follow my earlier example, I don't really consider Edward Ferrars a very strong character. Yes, he's a nice guy; yes, he's compassionate, but he's also deceitful, and doesn't seem to have much initiative or drive. He doesn't have much ability to do anything, or make any decisions. Maybe that's just my perception, but I prefer my male characters to have ... some ... something. Panache. What's the word? Macho. Sort of. But not always ... but then I'm trying to think of a non-macho male character/hero that I actually like. Ok, ok, Frodo. I do like Frodo. But then he's not someone I would really date ... I guess it's more of identifying with his trials and tribulations. Now, Sam, on the other hand, I would love. He's great; he's a complete moron, in some ways, having no "macho-ness" whatsoever; but honest, loyal, understanding, and willing to go through fire and water (literally!) in the name of friendship. THAT'S my kind of hero.

    Mlle. Cochinelle: no doormats. BAAAAD! Completely agree with you; generosity of spirit does not mean letting others take advantage of you.

    And Steph S: I completely agree; it's about balance. Life is about balance. Moderation in all things [including blog comment rants!]

    Thanks for listening! V theraputic :)

  25. Hear, hear.

    When I think of a strong character (of any gender) as JJ does - depth and breadth and believability, one who is true to herself (or himself), whatever that might be.

    Strengths can be all kinds of things: gumption, daring, patience, tolerance, gentleness, understanding, intelligence, cunning, intuition, healing, sensitivity, thoughtfulness, imagination, subtlety, bravery, self-sacrifice (and the unwillingness to sacrifice oneself, ironically, is one, too), sense of self-worth, protectiveness, courtesy, consideration, etc. You'll notice that none of these concepts are gender specific. Nor should they be.

    One of the "strongest" characters I remember is Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket, patient, self-sacrificing, tolerant, and completely true to what she believed.

    I am personally loud and brash, a career girl, known for being tough as nails at work. I have plenty of basket case moments emotionally and elsewhere. How strong is that?

    One thing I loved about Georgette Heyer (Regency Romance) was that she really could mix up the type of characters from brash managing women like The Grand Sophy to shy retiring women with a hidden core of strength and dignity. And her men ran the same gamut.

  26. I love this post. I too worried about my leading female character when I first wrote her b/c she is self-sacrificing...literally. But what makes her strong is the decision was completely hers and she had the courage to go after it. The people she loves mattered more to her than her own life.

    But my MC is a male, broodish and standoffish. I love the way he sees her. Everything about her is alien to him and his world view. She challenges his ideals of destiny and human-kind. She even helps him overcome his own guilt while dealing with her own inner demons.

    Perhaps we shouldn't rethink writing "weak" femael characters, maybe it's the way we write "weak" female characters we should rethink.

    Idk...just me two cents.

  27. Ooooh, I like that; "rethinking" how we write our "weak" characters. Yup, sounds good :)

  28. Great post, Natalie. Way to tackle a controversial topic in an articulate, refreshing way. I've noticed that "strong" these days seems to be the same as "masculine," but as you said, "strong" can be so many other things.

    Also, to answer the question at the bottom of your last post, here's a book recommendation for NaNoReaMo (if you haven't already read it): BRUISER by Neal Shusterman. I just finished it this afternoon, and it was fantastic. BRUISER reads like a contemporary, but it's got a unique not-normal twist that Mr. Shusterman really takes the time to develop. A great read from start to finish.

  29. I agree! Who wants to read about "perfect" anyway? Even Lara Croft has her issues!

  30. Great post! I hear from agents all the time that my MC seems weak. That's because as you stated, sh becomes stronger as the story progresses.

    I'd love to hear what you guys think of my opening pages and if my MC realy does come across like a weakling.

    You can read it here:

  31. Dude get out of my head!

    I was JUST wondering last night as I was storybording my WIP whether my protag wasn't "strong" or "fightery" enough!

    I write YA fantasy and so many of the women characters (including the ones I love) either have incredible fighting skills or incredible magical skills. Mine has neither. She's not lithe and lean, either, she's curvy, but her personality is strong. (Wait a minute, who does this remind me of...:P)

    While I too love a girl who can kick ass, I'm not one of them and I want a character who can win the fight without the fists.

    BTW, those of us who don't stay at home are jealous. I work because I HAVE to, because I live in a city, and because the guy I ended up with isn't a Trump :D.

  32. I keep coming back to this discussion, lol. It's interesting!

    There's obviously a lot of misconception surrounding the term "strong." I don't think "strong" means kicking ass, or never making mistakes, or having no flaws. In fact, I'd argue that characters with no flaws ARE a weak characterization. How can a character grow and change when they have nothing to learn and nowhere to go?

    Strong doesn't mean perfect, hard, and physically powerful. A timid, fragile, flawed character can display amazing strength. We just have to make sure that strength, in whatever form, is coming through.

    Being self-sacrificing isn't a weakness - some of the greatest stories in all humanity feature sacrifice to protect the things we love. But the reasons and goals behind the sacrifice have to be solid and real, or it becomes just a plot device and the character just a tool.

    And that's the key to watch for, I think - all of our characters' actions must make sense. "Strong" characters make decisions based on concrete conviction, not whim. For example, a woman sacrificing herself for the man she loves and father of her children? Solid reason. Sacrificing herself for a man she's known a month and has some romantic feelings for? Not a strong enough reason.

  33. Great post! I saw that flowchart last week and was like, "Uh, so what women DON'T fall into some stereotype?" I choose to ignore it for the purposes of my writing/sanity.

  34. You said it, sister!

    Well, your entry pretty much sums up what I've always felt about female characters. To me, there was always two extremes that they fell into: the doormat or the overly feisty 'hear me roar' heroine.

    With the WIP I have at the moment; I'm terrified that my female protagonist - who is generally a timid and meek person - will be scoffed at for being a 'weak' character. But I think it's how you execute her and the character development that evolves through the story is what matters most.

    I think strong is a subjective term, and can be interpreted in many ways - and this, in turn, can be expressed through their character. Personally, there is a different between someone who is physically and/or mentally strong.

    Other than that, I concur with what most comments have already said. (:

  35. A few days ago Shannon Messenger posted on how giving up on an earlier dream was the bravest thing she could have done. She quoted YOU'VE GOT MAIL with something like, Dare to imagine a different life for yourself. (I forget the exact quote.)

    Like the publishing industry, strength is subjective. I think strwngth is making the most of the situation you're in. That has nothing to do with having a man (or not), being educated (or not) and etc and so forth.

    Btw, Firelord's daughter as Girl Hunter= Pure Concentrated WIN!

  36. What a great post! I agree with the comical diagram - it is being overthought. Very much so. We do have strong female characters; I read them frequently.

  37. THANK YOU. I've thought the exact same thing before. I like to read and write characters (male and female!) that are strong in different ways-- just like I like to meet people that are strong in different ways. Women don't have to fit one certain stereotype to be strong!

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this.

  38. This is such a great topic! Not all females, characters or otherwise, fit in with society's definition of a "strong woman," and I don't think it's realistic to write every heroine as confident and determined. Everyone has doubts and weaknesses, and as Shallee says (above), characters can be strong in different ways. Look at the heroines in Brontë novels: they exist within the structure of the church/patriarchy, which is often seen as confining for women, yet they turn it around and use religion as the basis for their autonomy. Nothing is as simple as it seems.

  39. Such good points! And I'm afraid this push to create strong female characters will make all characters too similar, too one-dimensional. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and that's what makes us interesting.

  40. Thank you! I get so tired of people thinking women who struggle are somehow less of a woman. And when has the desire to be loved been a weak trait?

    Great points, Natalie!

  41. I'm glad you brought up this topic. I've seen the chart mentioned several times in the last week and it's been preying on my mind.

    We work so hard to not write stereotypical characters, and the point of this chart is the "strong female character" is becoming a stereotype. (or maybe just becoming common enough that it feels stereotypical?) I've seen similar things on male stereotypes (the young farmhand-turned-king, the wise old man, the barbarian, the king, etc.).

    While I agree that it marginalizes and belittles certain choices a woman must make (the entire "does she want kids/get pregnant" section makes my head explode), I think it can also serve as a warning--your character (of any gender) might be a stereotype if . . .

    We shouldn't be writing "strong female characters", but instead writing about people who are dynamic (love that word!), do impressive and heroic deeds be they quiet or loud, who make their choices and live with the consequences and struggle through existence the best they can with the rest of us.

  42. Thank you so, so much for saying this! I think that I would fit the 'weak woman' stereotype. But the thing is, I don't desire to be the gal who beats up all the bad guys and proves that she's tougher than 'the boys.' I gravitate more toward intellectual and spiritual strengths, which is why I write.

    And why indeed should stories only be about girls who are naturally confident? Sure, perhaps the 'weak' girls need good role models, but if all female characters just are that way naturally, then their kind of strength just seems as far away as ever. And to the girl reader who isn't strong, it only reinforces the idea that she isn't valuable because she isn't 'strong' -- which is the last thing we need to be telling this group of people!

    Wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you so much for voicing this.

  43. Thank you for this! Why can't stories center around women who aren't the typical "strong female character"? Sometimes I want to read about those women--the ones that don't traditionally fall under that umbrella. I think the strong female character, in some ways, has become one-dimensional and unrelatable.

    As you said there are so many ways to be strong and our characters should be that way--not falling under one typical stereotype.

  44. I agree w/ JJ's assessment that "strong" carries certain connotations, but you are right that there are many different types of strong female characters. So-called "weak" characters can still be important and integral to a story, depending on what their role is in that story. Strength, in feminism and otherwise, is about choices. Choosing to be a stay-at-home mother does not make a person weak, just like "sassy, no-holds-barred" attitudes don't necessarily make someone strong.

  45. This goes perfectly with a post I read a few months ago about writing realistic male characters. Not all men are the same. Not all women are the same. But some women are the kind to speak softly and carry a large stick, and some men are the type who bulldoze through problems without thinking them through.

    Being "real" means accepting that stereotypes come from a real place, too, but making sure our characters don't let the stereotype DEFINE them. We're all individuals, after all. Thank you for reminding us that strong female characters don't have to be Buffy and Katniss. Though I enjoy both those characters, I wouldn't want every girl and woman I read about to BE them.

    And for being a young mother, I admire your courage. Your chosen path isn't easy, but it's so important!

  46. Great post Natalie! I've always thought that women who could do it on their own, but choose to involve others in their lives are the strong ones.

    We can be strong and still be soft and caring. We can be capable while allowing others to be just as capable.

  47. i totally think it's subjective, you know? i think we all tend to write what we know, what we relate too, parts of us come through in our characters. and everyone's version of "strong" is different, depending upon experience, etc. defining something as one word, is as confining as saying the sky has to be this one perfect shade of blue, or else it isn't a good sky at all.

  48. Love this rant. LOVE. I appreciate you defending what a "strong" female character means.

  49. Love this rant. LOVE. I appreciate you defending what a "strong" female character means.

  50. I think you're right. A character doesn't have to be "strong", but it /does/ have to feel "real." I think that is a better definition of strength and the type of thing everyone should strive for in their writing.

    And that goes for male, female and alien characters alike! ;-)

  51. Regardless of gender, I think these qualities make a strong/powerful human being - and we do want to populate our novels with human beings not character types, right?

    The ability to:

    1. ask for what you need
    2. be quiet
    3. stay focused on the task at hand
    4. admit being wrong
    5. ask for help
    6. offer your undivided attention
    7. put yourself in someone's shoes
    8. be patient
    9. see humor/irony/absurdity in life
    10. get over something and move on
    11. think something through
    12. act/speak up

    True strength of character can be very subtle.

  52. Just. Plain. Brilliant.

    You, among other fabulous people, inspired me to write an open letter to YA heroines. If you want, you can check it out here:

    Thanks for speaking up :D

  53. Thank you so much for this article. Strength comes in many forms and especially in the female character it is more complex. The hardest job I have ever seen was raising children right, but also being a female medic out on the front line. Femininity has nothing to do with weakness, even the word derives from femaleness. Bing in love and lusting after a man or two is still not being weak.but embracing your female sexuality. Yes there are weaknesses but please do not put the female character into two boxes.
    A.Jacob Sweeny.
    Author of the YA novel
    Pulse Of Heroes- a novel with a strong/weak/funny/afraid/courageous/shy/sexy/innocent... main female character.