What makes a good female character in fiction?

Zeus, Inc.If you are unfamiliar with the term “Mary Sue,” you are probably familiar with what she represents: the Mary Sue is often the female character that everyone loves, who is 100% perfect and has a 100% perfect life. She is not only unrealistic, but she is also boring. Who wants to read about such a person?

And then there’s the damsel in distress. This character leads an empty and unfulfilling life. The only thing that makes her whole is meeting the man of her dreams. Sometimes, this man actually saves her life (because she is not capable of saving herself). Sometimes, he just appears and takes her sadness away and makes her happy. Again, this character is not based in reality.

So what makes a good female protagonist? The answer is relatively a simple one. A good female character isn’t written as a Mary Sue or a damsel in distress. A good female character is one who is independent, strong and kicks butt, both mentally and physically. She also has doubts and fears, has flaws, and is just like you and me: she is human. She is someone you want to read more about, someone you relate to, and someone you want to see win in the end.

Fortunately, science fiction has given us good female characters just like this. From Meg in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time series to Harry Potter’s Hermione to Katniss in The Hunger Games, many science fiction novels are giving us female characters that are not only compelling, but real. These characters have become people we feel that we know, and we want them to succeed in every way.

In my book, Zeus, Inc., Alex Grosjean is written from my own perspective – she is independent and strong, she can kick butt, she’s street smart, but she also has doubts and fears about her own abilities. Much of what Alex feels in the novel is what I have felt at one time or another. As I was writing the book, I found myself emotionally involved in what happens to her. It was my duty as a writer to throw obstacles in her way, but I cheered for her every time she faced one of those problems and overcame it. She is not perfect, but she is relatable. That was very important to me when I began the project and as I continue to write her, and as she grows, I keep that in mind.

These qualities are important for not just writing a good female character, but for writing any character. Many writers tend to get hung up on the “female” part of a character, though, and forget that this is probably the least interesting thing about her. Fortunately, new writers such as myself continue to challenge the female stereotype, and it seems as if readers are finally starting to respond. Here’s hoping that we can keep writing strong female figures well into the future and that readers will continue to demand them.

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About Zeus, Inc.

(Biting Dog Publications) – 50 years ago,  mysterious Zeus, Inc. CEO Joseph Brentwood saved the world from a major energy crisis by discovering a new unlimited energy resource. Now, in 2069, Mr. Brentwood has gone missing and private eye Alex Grosjean has been hired to find him. Alex’s search leads her through her own murky past and into the fantastical depths of Hell itself, where she discovers that no one is who or what they seem to be.

Robin Burks is not only a journalist for DVICE.com and RebelGaming.com, but also for her own site FanGirlConfessions.com. Robin has just published her first novel: Zeus, Inc. with Biting Dog Publications and is working on its sequel The Curse of Hekate. A science fiction trilogy, The Book of Revelations, is also currently in the works. An internet addict, she can often be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  She also loves to read , act, sing, play video games and travel. Robin currently lives in Missouri with her four cats. She also occasionally speaks French and loves Doctor Who. Visit Robin on her websiteTwitterFacebookGoogle+ or GoodReads.

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