Great Female Protagonists discussion

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Other Book Stuff > What Makes a "Great Female Protagonist"?

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message 1: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 5 comments Please post your thoughts here.


message 2: by Christy (new)

Christy Stewart (christyleighstewart) One that can be at least a little pathetic.


message 3: by Katri (new)

Katri (Valancy) | 4 comments Hmm, I never seemed to post my thoughts here, thanks for dragging it up again, Christy!

I think a great female protagonist should, first, have something of her own as her goal and problems, not just how to get a man. It's fine if she does have romance, though, it just shouldn't be her one and only goal. (OK, one could argue that Jane Austen's heroines' stories are mainly about who they marry and they're still wonderful, but I think they've got a lot more than that going on - there's always some personal development and overcoming their own flaws not just because a man wants it - though he may point out the need - but because that's the right way to live, whether the man will want her or not.) A great female protagonist shouldn't be perfect, angelically good and infinitely competent, because then she's not a real person and then we can't relate to her, being imperfect creatures ourselves, and because then she doesn't say anything valuable about being human. But there should be something admirable about her, some kind of strengths or something that makes her unique. She should also have flaws, and not just the clichéd "but she's klutzy!!" type flaws, but preferably she should work on them somehow during the story and have some personal development. Not become perfect, because I really don't care for perfect heroines, but she should overcome some kind of a challenge in her story, hopefully both external and internal challenges, through her own effort and not just because someone else helps her.

Interesting women in history are those who've had their own goals and problems, and who've got something unique and interesting about their personality. They don't need to necessarily have made an important change for the good or even have been wholly admirable, but there should be something that makes them personalities, interesting because of who they are and how they lived their lives, not only who they married.


message 4: by Barbara (new)

Barbara A great female protagonist to me is not different from a great male one - her challenges might be different but as a reader, it's the one I have a strong impression of long after I put the book down. I haven't read Gone With the Wind for years, but I still have a sense of who Scarlett O'Hara was. I "know" Becky Sharp, Mrs. De Winter, Princess Anjuli, Anne of Green Gables, Mildred Peacock, Madam Bovary, Precious Ramoswe just to name a few. Some were made into movies, but I don't need to watch a movie to have a sense of who they are.


message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter Topside I feel that a female protagonist needs to demonstrate a certain degree of compassion, empathy, courage and strength in the face of a life-altering adversity. While these are not terribly different than a standard male lead, I feel that women bring a very unique and crucial viewpoint that needs to be explored fully, so that a reader can truly understand the high level of importance that a heroine represents.

When I wrote the second book of my trilogy, I had no intention initially of making my female-lead, Alexandra, the main focus. However, as I began writing, this character organically blossomed from an insecure, uncertain, and uninformed girl into a strong, heroic and fearless woman, against all odds.

My wife is also an avid advocate of racial and gender equality, so it was very important to me that I wrote this character in an accurate and respectful way. After she read it, she agreed that I did it well, and only hope that others feel the same, once the book is published in a few short months.


message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I put up another topic a few weeks about, the top 5 female protagonists in different categories (classics, modern mystery etc).
One thing they have in common is that many of them are in books I've read more than once. I don't care about the books issues - Anne Shirley's challenges are very different from Scout Finch's - but I have read the Anne books, and To Kill a Mockingbird at least a half a dozen times.


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