Writing strong female characters has become this… thing recently among writerly types. Nobody wants to write a tired trope or cliched character, and yet they keep popping up. Fantasy is particularly bad, but historical and horror are only a couple of other genres guilty for it.
If your character is too stupid to live, it means they continue to make baffling decisions that force them or the people around them into otherwise impossible situations OR they are passive and bad stuff just keeps happening to them (the poor dears). It feels contrived, and instead of cheering for the too stupid to live female, readers cheer on the situation that’s causing them so much trouble.
Some particularly too-stupid-to-live-females in my opinion are:
Daphne from Scooby Doo (that girl needs a rescue virtually every episode)
Bella Swan from Twilight (I’m talking more in the first 2.5 books, after that she finds some gumption)
Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With The Wind (I just want to smack that woman over and over and over…)
Aim to create female characters with agency. Characters that have their own motivations and desires and do things to move the story ahead.
I am guest posting over at Kristen Lamb’s blog today on how women should be brave not stupid.
Portraying strong women authentically is tricky. Most of the time, I find strong female characters are caricatures of an extreme: the dim-witted blond, the stock-in-trade man with boobs, the femme fatale. These are stereotypes sure, but what they really are is extreme examples of real life. Can you find an example from history of a female warrior in a male-dominated society – sure, but she’s an outlier. If you want to write an outlier character that’s fine, but let the traits that make her an outlier be the source of her strength not her ability to wield a sword.
Which female characters have you read/watched lately that felt too-stupid-to-live?
I have a new class coming up September 9th on writing strong female characters. Watch the video and then sign up!I'm in! I want stronger female characters in my stories!