Today, I would like to welcome author Alesha Escobar to my blog.
Guest Post: Understanding the “Strong Heroine”
Okay, don’t stone me, but sometimes when I hear about a character being a “strong heroine” I get the inexplicable urge to gag.
Well, it’s not quite inexplicable–I have a good idea why.
The term is over-used and misused. If a novel has a female protagonist, then she’s automatically a “strong heroine,” even if her words and actions throughout the story indicate otherwise. If said character slaps people around (especially men), she also gets the title of Strong Heroine–but is that all there is to being strong?
I understand the need to maintain a balance with heroines. On the one hand, we want to stay away from typical or even offensive stereotypes of women, but on the other we don’t want to put masculinity in a dress and think the job is done.
Perhaps the answer lies first in how we view what it means to be strong. It’s hard not to view strength in terms of relationship and power. When turning the pages of a story we’re fascinated with who is physically, mentally or emotionally stronger in a given relationship or interaction. We ask ourselves who’s at an advantage, who will get what she wants, and who will win or lose. But what if we were to see strength as a personal quality possessed by a woman that shines through when she is tried and tested?
Standing up for one’s beliefs when it’s unpopular (or even dangerous) is a show of strength; staying loyal to someone even when it costs you is a show of strength; being able to smile and show compassion when you’ve been brought low and broken–that is a show of strength. Doing the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do, even when it breaks your heart and rends your soul–but you know you must do it, is a show of strength.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good dose of kickass-and-take-names, but the heroine should be much deeper than that. The more layers to her, even if one of them is a flaw, makes her more relate-able and makes me want to root for her more. And we all know how satisfying it is to root for our heroine, end the journey with her, and at the end feel it was well done.
Alesha Escobar writes fantasy and urban fantasy stories to support her chocolate habit. She holds a B.A. in English Writing and a Master of Science in Education. She enjoys reading, watching movies, and crafts. She is the author of The Tower’s Alchemist (Gray Tower Trilogy, #1) and is currently finishing DARK RIFT, #2 of The Gray Tower Trilogy.
The Tower’s Alchemist is available on Amazon.