Jul 08 2009

Featured: Which female characters are the most awful and why? Who’s awesome?

Which female characters do you think are the most awful? Which are the most excellent? What separates the two? Marissa and I really appreciate your feedback; Marissa’s writing an article for us about how to do female characters well. (You can see our article on male characters here).

205 responses so far

205 Responses to “Featured: Which female characters are the most awful and why? Who’s awesome?”

  1. B. Macon 06 Jul 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Personally, I’m a bit annoyed by female characters that care a lot about clothes. I think it’s a fine line between something that is probably true (that women typically care more than men about fashion and clothes) and making the character an unbelievable caricature. Although some caricatures work very well, like the protagonist of Clueless, I think it’s usually pretty hard to care about a story about a caricature.

    As far as female characters I really like, I thought that the cast of Mean Girls was three-dimensional and well-rounded. The characters generally felt believable to me.

  2. Marissaon 07 Jul 2009 at 12:05 am

    If you can’t think of characters from popular media (an obvious example is Arya, or Bella), stereotypes or traits work as well. Just list off which you’d like me to talk about, and I’ll work from there.

  3. Tomon 07 Jul 2009 at 1:33 am

    Mean Girls was probably the single greatest teen girl movie ever made. It perfected and distilled the concepts of cliques, bitchiness and teen drama into a single, ideal teen girl film.

    Anyway, it’s very, very difficult to make a valley girl likable. The only way I can think of is to add another dimension or two of depth to her character. But usually valley girls are all like ‘omigawd I just broke a nail! Oh my God did you guys hear about x and y? They like, totally like, were seen like, doing something and it was like, weird and stuff’.

    It gets REALLY annoying REALLY quickly.

    Case in point- I forget which one it was but the valley girl from Totally Spies (I think it was Clover).

  4. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Jul 2009 at 4:55 am

    I hate, hate, hate it when girls are represented as helpless damsels in distress. Sure, everyone needs help now and then, but why the hell don’t they actually fight back against their kidnappers/the aliens etc instead of giving up?

    I recall a scene from Spiderman 2 where Aunt May hit Dr. Octopus with her umbrella. That is much more amusing than watching someone scream “Spiderman, save me!” God knows I would not hesitate to break someone’s wrist if they laid a hand on me. Also another part from Kingdom Hearts – Xaldin has Belle captive, and what does she do? She elbows him in the guts, snatches the rose from him and rescues herself. One word: awesome.

    It’s not so bad when they fight back, but are overpowered, but it still seems cliché and kind of degrading. I wrote a little scene where Atalya is attacked, but just as the other heroes get to the stronghold, a goon smashes through the window and falls six storeys. They hear more crashing inside, and then she opens the door, strolls out covered in their blood and says “I appreciate the effort, but these guys are amateurs.”

    Another thing I hate is when girls give up everything for guys. “Sure, you saved me from the dragon, so I’ll just marry you without getting to know you and leave my whole family behind!”

    Girls that care a lot about clothes annoy me, too, so I tend to avoid it like the plague. None of my female characters have an obsession over clothing. (With the exception of Amy Belle, who wishes to be a model/actress and has a model for a mother, and has it as an unsympathetic trait. She’s highly materialistic and doesn’t hesitate to manipulate Isaac)

  5. Davidon 07 Jul 2009 at 5:38 am

    two of the best females i’ve ever seen are Nariko and Kie from Hevenly sword

    one fact i hate though is alot of chraters were almost nothing

  6. Bretton 07 Jul 2009 at 6:29 am

    There are generally two types of female characters I hate:

    1. Those that are useless. See above for clarification. (XD)

    2. Those that feel like they were written by a rabid, mouth-foaming feminist.

  7. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Jul 2009 at 7:20 am

    Brett, was issue two aimed at me? Haha. If I was to choose between classing myself as a feminist or not, I would be leaning towards feminism.

    I wouldn’t say I’m rabid, but I just see so many female characters treated like objects and it annoys me to no end. I hate stereotypes, which is why I try to defy them through my characters.

    There is one thing I don’t entirely understand about feminism. Feminists want to be equal to men, right? And then everything is a double standard. It is seen as perfectly acceptable for a woman to hit her cheating boyfriend, but if he does the same, he will be seen as abusive. She can then proceed to throw him outside into the pouring rain and throw a suitcase at him, but if he did that, there would be cries of “what a jerk!” Don’t get me wrong, no one should hurt anyone, but it seems a little contradictory.

    Further expansion on the hostage topic I raised in my previous comment. When male characters are kidnapped, they tend to put up a fight. It’s realistic, and it’s not limited to guys. In real life, girls don’t just give up. We claw, punch, kick and try to fight our way out of a situation. In fiction, however, they tend to faint and await rescue. Do you see fictional guys do that? Nope. Why should girls be any different?

  8. Contra Gloveon 07 Jul 2009 at 7:24 am

    Woo hoo! Y’all finally took my suggestion! 🙂

    @ Brett

    I agree with you there.

    @ Whovian

    On average, girls aren’t as physically strong as guys — though firearms and tasers can fix that. My issue with “damsels in distress” is that it makes the character one-dimensional. If you can replace the damsel with a valuable object, then you didn’t write your female character correctly. Give her a goal or a role that isn’t dependent upon a man, though you don’t have to be über-feminist about it — it can be as simple as “I want to master X skill or find Y object.”

    Just my $0.02 regarding this.

  9. Contra Gloveon 07 Jul 2009 at 7:30 am

    Whoops, I forgot to add one thing: Please, please, PLEASE do not use rape or other sexual traumas as a quick-and-dirty way to give a female character a tragic backstory! (See “Rape is the New Dead Parents” on TV Tropes.) I will confess, I’ve given a female character this sort of backstory, though with something far milder than sexual assault.

  10. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Jul 2009 at 7:46 am

    Yeah, using sexual assault to traumatise a character is a lame way to go about it, and it is essentially a shortcut. I prefer it when it needs to be explained more. As a rule of thumb, I try to make explanations of backstory more than a sentence and explain it in a couple of paragraphs or less. For the purpose of example, I will type up a bit of backstory from one of my many ideas. The character is as of yet unnamed, so let’s just call him Jay.

    “Jay stopped abruptly as he entered the kitchen, placing his hand on the cool metal doorframe. All he had wanted was a glass of milk, but instead he was met with the sight of his mother’s body on the tiled floor, laid in a small pool of blood. He didn’t take a moment to process it, and instead seized a large knife from the kitchen drawer. Jay stepped around her, not looking down, and turned the corner.

    He saw his mother’s assailant walking down the hall, away from the body, still with the bloodied blade in hand. Rage overtook the ten year old, and letting out a choked scream, he drove his own weapon into the robber’s spine.”

    In less than a page, it has been established that Jay’s mother was murdered and that he then killed her killer.

    Hmm, I may use this one for the five page challenge.

  11. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Jul 2009 at 7:53 am

    Yeah, I know girls are generally physically weaker, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight our way out with some logic and a few swift kicks to the groin. 😉

  12. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Jul 2009 at 8:14 am

    Jon tried so hard to get any attention from any woman, but then he finally met someone who was actually three dimensional and appeared often. When he finally started going out with her, she just changed into a shallow character. He may as well have gone out with one of the oneshot characters!

  13. Bretton 07 Jul 2009 at 8:47 am

    My comment was prompted by you, RW, yes. However, I wouldn’t say you were the object of it, if that makes sense.

    Actually, I partially agree with you. none of my female characters are helpless objects. I’m even trying to make a humorous point of that when one of my male characters (Alex’s friend, Jacques, the one who thinks he’s The Chosen One) tries to be chivalrous and rescue a girl he thinks is in distress when Alex refuses to. As it turns out, her capture was all part of the plan (which Jacques just screwed up) and now they have to rescue him, who actually is in distress now. Oh the irony. XD

    When I say “written by a rabid, mouth-foaming feminist,” I mean when there’s a complete role reversal and the female characters are ridiculously competent while the male characters are the ones “in distress.” That was the one issue I had with Disney’s “Kim Possible.” It seemed like nearly every male character was a nuisance (her brothers), extremely passive (Wade and most of Kim’s crushes), or completely useless (Ron Stoppable). Although the show did see some improvements (Wade left his room and Ron learned to be somewhat useful), that’s still a major bone I have to pick with it. My dream episode of Kim Possible would be for her to meet a character like Batman or GI JOE’s Snake Eyes. A male character who can put her in her place, or at least match her.

  14. Bretton 07 Jul 2009 at 8:50 am

    Btw, while females do fight back, its very different than guys. I think they tend to do more chaotic and emotional flailing, whereas guys will probably go more for punching and well-placed blows. In other situations, I think that females are more likely to try subtle attack methods, whereas guys (ninjas being the HUGE exception) probably won’t.

  15. Bretton 07 Jul 2009 at 8:55 am

    Almost forgot. Girls are also more likely to go for cheap shots in my opinon. Why?

    1. They are generally physically weaker. Cheap shots can give an edge to a weaker fighter.

    2. Girls are more likely to fight based on pure emotion. Anyone who has seen a catfight knows this.

    3. Girls can’t empathize with how much it hurts to get hit in the groin.

    4. Girls have no rules when they fight, since there’s not really one definitive “off limits” spot.

    One thing that I notice though. Guys will generally go for blows to the chest and stomach, sometimes the face. Girls, not so much. They tend to go for the face more often. Why is that? And does it really hurt girls that much to get hit in the chest? Because if so, that could nullify my #4.

  16. JZon 07 Jul 2009 at 11:16 am

    I’m amused to remember reading Isaac Asimov writing about how (when he was a kid), he didn’t even like to see women in the science fiction stories he read.

    It wasn’t because he had a problem with women as much as the fact that women in the stories of the time (1930’s) existed only to be a love interest/be kidnapped and rescued.

    That being said, what irritates me about female characters is the same thing that irritates me about male characters — cliches.

    The cliches are just different for women. None that really bother me are coming to mind, but any character that exists as little more than a cliche isn’t very interesting to read about.

    The female character that exists only to be a voice for feminism irritates me, but so do female (or male) characters that exist as little more than the author’s voice about a particular issue.

  17. Holliequon 07 Jul 2009 at 12:05 pm

    There are a few kinds of female character I can find dislikable.

    1. Passive, damsel-in-distress types: Covered already. I have no problem with a female character being portrayed as weak, as long as it’s because of her character and not the fact that she’s female. If her role could be filled by an inanimate object, that’s bad. If it could be filled by an equally-distressed guy, that’s fine. Passive characters are generally not very interesting anyway, but I particularly dislike it when female characters have the “but I could break a nail/ruin my clothes” thing going on. Yes, some girls are materialistic and shallow. Some guys are too. Again, if this occurs, it needs to be because of the character and not the female.

    2. Super-competent feminists: I have no problem with competent women or feminists, or even both at the same time. What I do have a problem with is when the super-competent feminist makes every other character look pathetic, including the men, and the “weak” women. This shouldn’t be happening. SCF will have her own flaws, just like the men. When she succeeds where they fail, all the time, I get really sick of it. For a start, it gives feminists a bad name and makes us all look like men-haters. I consider myself to be very feminist, but I think men and women are equal, albeit different. Secondly, the character at this point is close to becoming a Mary Sue, which is really not the “strong female character” that I wanted.

    3. Counters to every female stereotype: To be fair, I haven’t seen this very often outside of fanfiction, but I think it might be a particularly easy trap for men to fall into. Basically, the character is female, but she doesn’t fit into any female stereotype or, really, have any traits which are a result of her being female. She could just as easily be a male character, the author just felt that they needed one of the characters to be a girl. These characters can be compelling and sympathetic, but they just don’t feel realistic. I haven’t met a girl yet who doesn’t meet at least one female stereotype, even if very loosely (I’m considered fairly tomboy-ish, but I am distinctly girly. At least in real life). Um, I’m not sure if I’ve made clear what I’m driving at on this one, but basically if the character is a girl for no other reason than to have a girl, it’s bad.

    Flat love-interests, bitchy minor/major antagonists, and a whole host of other annoying female characters usually fall under one of the above 3, I think.

  18. ShardReaperon 07 Jul 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Cliche-Love interest discovers hero’s identity as the guy she has a friendly relationship with, then feels like she has to be with him because she loves his hero identity, then later breaks up with him under the fact that she can’t take him risking his life DESPITE KNOWING THIS AND STILL DATE HIM PRECEDING THE BREAKUP!

  19. Bretton 07 Jul 2009 at 12:32 pm

    @ Holliequ: I’m kinda confused. I thought feminists, by definition, were men-haters (at least in the 1960’s). You know, role reversal, pushing for boys to be taught like girls, anti-masculinity in any form or fashion, anti-chivalry, anti-marriage, female world domination, etc. Could you clarify that? Honest question.

    @ all posters (esp. females): How would you feel about a ruthless female character whose style vaguely resembled, among others, Darth Vader? Just wondering.

  20. Bretton 07 Jul 2009 at 12:35 pm

    However, it is worth noting, that Justice League and Justice League Unlimited used a slightly feminist character, Wonder Woman, very well. Even though she was assertive and not used to dealing with men, she didn’t disregard them as inferior and was even impressed by the male members of the team. And I find it particularly interesting that of all the male JLA members, she was most impressed with the one who had no powers: Batman. Go Bats!

  21. Contra Gloveon 07 Jul 2009 at 1:00 pm

    @ Brett

    A ruthless female supervillain isn’t too bad. Just do it well, and everything would be fine.

  22. Holliequon 07 Jul 2009 at 1:11 pm

    @Brett, regarding feminism: Eh, maybe that is the technical definition, but when I said “feminist” I meant ‘one who believes in the ideal that women are equal to men, with all that that implies’. Perhaps that could also lead, somewhat, to the other stuff you stated, but I’m not that extreme. (I dislike marriage for entirely different reasons, haha.) My apologies for the confusion there.

  23. Tomon 07 Jul 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Actually the technical definition of ‘feminist’ says nothing about hating men, it’s just about believing that women should be more proactive and equal to men. Many people are technically ‘feminist’ without even realising it.

  24. Contra Gloveon 07 Jul 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Careful now, let’s avoid topic drift.

  25. Bretton 07 Jul 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Good call, Contra Glove.

  26. Mr. Briton 07 Jul 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I agree with most of the stuff already said but would like to add that I find the best female characters are protagonists almost exclusively, whereas the best male characters can be both protagonist, supporting characters or antagonists. Ben Linus and Adam Monroe, from Lost and Heroes respectively, remain favourite characters as does minor character Ethan Romm from Lost. I’m not sure why I find this but it may be I find it harder to relate to a female character unless she is the POV since I’m male (although not especially masculine 😛 ).

  27. JZon 07 Jul 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Mr. Brit: It may not be because you’re male that female characters often seem uninteresting when they aren’t protagonists.

    Lots of female characters (who aren’t protagonists) still get used either as a reward (the main character saves the day and gets the girl), extra motivation to take out the villain (see further. women in refrigerators), or as background (the protagonist is married, but his wife doesn’t appear much).

    Characters like that aren’t very interesting by nature since they exist only to move the story along as opposed to actually guiding and changing the story by their actions.

    By contrast, women who are protagonists guide the plot by their actions and choices (if the writer is doing their job).

  28. Merrion 07 Jul 2009 at 7:23 pm

    My absolute least favorite is the action bimbo, who shows how “empowered” she is by dressing like a… *ahem*.
    She isn’t feminine any more than a bishonen is masculine, but pretends to be an ideal woman. I think they’re both basically caricatures designed to appeal to the opposite gender’s id.

    I’m actually more annoyed by characters who are sexist in female favor than the other way around, for these reasons:
    1.) I see them more often. That’s probably a biggie. 😉
    2.) I don’t really feel the need to be “empowered” because I’ve never been “depowered.” Maybe I’m just lucky?
    3.) Badly written internet reviews praise them.
    4.) As a girl, I feel like the more extreme examples(mostly in fanfic, thankfully) try to force me into a mold. A weird mold. ‘~’

    Also, I wish guys would show their female characters to real women and ask if the clothes make sense. My superheroines usually end up with a skirt over a jumpsuit; anybody who would show her midriff, let alone have holes all over her clothes, while fighting super-criminals would have very bad things attempted on her and should know it. And would thus be an idiot.

    It doesn’t just apply to superheroes, though; average girl characters invented by guys sometimes look too masculine in their overall style to me, even if they’re wearing obviously female clothes. (Which makes me worry about my male characters…)

    Another peeve of mine is when tomboys are automatically assumed to be lesbians or a middle point on some sort of spectrum between lesbians and typical girls. 🙁 I was a tomboy as a child… Still am, a little bit.

    I don’t know how common that last one is, I just saw it in a couple of places and it upset me.

    A non-sexual example of a female character that bothered me was Helen from the video game NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams. Will, the male playable character, was well characterized, had interesting relationships with other characters and grew over the course of the story. Helen whined and flipped her hair. Will gave an emotional speech in his ending. Helen whined and talked like a five-year-old(I think she’s twelve). Helen was also actually more stereotypically masculine than Will: she talked less about her life and feelings, and sounded more competitive in her version of one scene. I got the impression that whoever wrote her dialogue was intimidated by writing a girl and so made her do the opposite of what he’d imagine himself doing, except when she had to talk brave for plot reasons.

  29. Trollitradeon 07 Jul 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I think incompetent heroines are a little annoying… they tryto get things done, but absolutely NEVER succeed without the hero bailing them out.

    An example is Rinoa from the video game “Final Fantasy 8”. (Nobody get mad about this one. I know she has fans). Every time she tries to be brave and independent during a crisis, she only manages to get herself into WORSE trouble and make the hero’s job twice as difficult. And she’s supposed to be the leader of group of activists, for Pete’s sake.
    Doesn’t that mean she ought to be a LITTLE capable?

    The first time she tries to do anything on her own, she just manages to get herself captured/possessed and almost killed by the villainess, almost immediately. Because she quickly screwed up her personal mission, the hero’s mission was TWICE as hard because, on top of everything else, he had to go and save her. And when he DID save her, she hugged his arm and almost cried about how scared she was.

    I think I’d have been much more satisfied with that whole scenario if Rinoa had accomplished at least SOMETHING.
    It’s fine if she messes up and gets captured. But her effort never amounted to anything. For example, she could have distracted the villainess long enough for the hero to complete his mission, or nabbed an important power-artifact from the enemy, or foiled the villainess’s plan by exposing her plot or getting in the way.

    But no… All that happened was she got into trouble, and the hero had to go save her. I wonder how she ever got to be the leader of an activist faction in the first place if she can’t even make the best out of a bad situation?

  30. Trollitradeon 07 Jul 2009 at 7:50 pm

    It looks like a lot of us have a problem with overly-passive female characters.

    I think female “magic healers” are prone to this problem.

    Many female healers are delicate, gentle, kind, nurturing, unfailingly polite, etc. And they can never hold their own in battle, not even a little… All the other heroes on the quest jump into battle and really put their lives on the line for something they believe in, and while the healer plays an important role, she is rarely designed to kick any ass.

    Why can’t the female healers be at least SOMEWHAT competent in fighting, instead of always needing to be defended by the other warriors? If she’s gonna be out there healing folks on the battle field, she’s gotta be able to protect herself out there, at least to some degree.

    I always thought it’d be more fun for the female healer to also be the team’s jokester or prankster, or maybe she’s a bit antisocial and accidentally intimidates the people she’s healing instead of being so soothing, heh-heh. I don’t think these characters should exist solely to “heal” and “nurture”.

    I’m totally guilty of bad female-healer design, by the way. I’ve got a character named Sagami who TOTALLY embodies everything I dislike about this character…

  31. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Jul 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Passive female characters annoy me, too. What’s the point of having them there if they’re not going to present alternatives?

    CHARACTER 1: Let’s pull his eyes out!

    PASSIVE 1: Oh, um, okay…

    SANE CHARACTER: Or maybe we could just, y’know, not torture him. You guys are barbarians. I’m going to stand by this door until you guys back off.

    Then Character would have to get past Sane, thus creating a small obstacle.

    And yes, if there is a female character for the sake of having a girl, then there is less potential for having a three dimensional, likable person.

    “Another peeve of mine is when tomboys are automatically assumed to be lesbians or a middle point on some sort of spectrum between lesbians and typical girls”. Me too. I have been described as a boy in a girl’s body on more than one occasion. Yet, I am heterosexual. Because a girl acts like a guy does not mean she is a lesbian.

    The gentle healer type generally annoys me, too, because they tend to fit under the passive character type. I can tolerate Yuna of Final Fantasy X, because though she acts like a doormat, she can be utterly awesome at times. (Spoiler) She has to choose between making the people of her country happy and a life of freedom, so she gives it up to be married to a guy who had tried to kill her, and who she killed in retaliation. (Since he had a strong connection to the mortal world, he can stay as long as he still has that connection) She almost punches him during the ceremony, and later fights him along with her friends. Yuna then kisses her true love, Tidus. She has to fight against some of the world’s strongest enemies with her friends and manages to destroy a perpetually appearing monster for good. She loses Tidus, but during the next game she becomes more confident and will give out pain to anyone who gets in her way of tracking her boyfriend down again (end spoiler)

    If I ever use a female healer type, I will make her more violent than anyone else in the story.

    HEALER: Tell me where the MacGuffin is or I’ll snap your spine!

    GOON: I don’t know!

    HEALER: (throws him on floor and kicks him) C’mon guys, let’s find someone who actually has a brain.

  32. B. Macon 07 Jul 2009 at 11:50 pm

    I think it’s a bit insulting when comic books use their characters as sex-fodder. The message from the comic book team is pretty clearly that “we think you’re the kind of guy that will get off on this.”

    Also, rape scenes. I am totally uninterested in reading about characters that get raped. (They tend to be women). There may be readers out there that find rape compatible with entertainment. I find it hard to imagine that there are many.

    Alternately, if you’re interested in writing a serious drama about surviving a rape*, then I would recommend doing it as a novel because novels have the length to handle that kind of heavy material. (Also, the readers for really serious stories tend to be more receptive to novels than comic books).

    *Which I will not read, by the way.

  33. Yogion 08 Jul 2009 at 1:51 am

    I detest valley girl stereotypes, which is why Belinda is supposed to be a subversion of the valley girl stereotype. 😛

  34. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Obnoxiously cute little girls are even worse than obnoxiously spunky little boys. A cute little girl (like Molly from Heroes) cannot do anything except induce an “aww!” reaction* or get herself kidnapped/endangered. In contrast, an obnoxious boy can advance the plot in a way that doesn’t make him seem like a total liability to the older characters. For example, Mikah from Heroes has rigged an election and masterminded a rebellion. In contrast, Molly can’t even use her telepathic-location ability without getting herself into trouble.

    By and large, a character that is supposed to be cute cannot be competent (and vice versa).

    *Speaking of Garfield, Nermal is an interesting subversion of the super-cute little girl. Her cuteness is supposed to be obnoxious, which makes her an obstacle for the main character.

  35. Davidon 08 Jul 2009 at 2:24 pm

    What about the female characters from Friends or Will and Grace?

    Another thing I hate is some women in movies, especially the ones about high school. For example, take the new one, Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging. On the back, it reads “and [Character’s Name] is after high school sex god [Character’s Name].”

    Or A Cinderella Story, starring Hillary Duff. (And I love Hillary Duff, haha 😉 ).

    And “[Character’s Name] shares e-mails with a mystery guy who turns out to be a high school hunk.”

    I mean, come on. Whatever happened to the Average Guy getting the girl, huh?

  36. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I think that there are more than a few stories about Average Guys getting a smoking-hot girl, like Spiderman or Transformers or Stardust, but more often than not I think they’re aimed at guys rather than girls. In contrast, I think a story about an Average Girl getting a super-desirable guy is more likely to appeal to girls than guys. (Twilight, Cinderella, most romance movies, etc).

    It’s all about whose wishes are being fulfilled. “You couldn’t get a date with anyone half this desirable in real life, but at least a character just like you can!”

  37. Tomon 08 Jul 2009 at 3:05 pm

    ^That last thing you said was the appeal of Twilight distilled into one sentence.

    Speaking of Twilight, how is it possible for a female writer to make such a horrible female character? She used a lot of the things we’ve complained about here, like Bella being totally useless, totally dependent on Eddie boy, jizzing every time he looks at her, being as useful as a macguffin.

    The list goes on…

  38. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 3:10 pm

    “Speaking of Twilight, how is it possible for a female writer to make such a horrible female character?” I think that the author wanted Bella to serve as a vessel for the readers rather than a character in her own right. So (as far as I can tell) she doesn’t have much of a personality or do much on her own. In some ways, it’s easier for a reader to insert herself into the story if the main character lacks a personality. Bella is mainly there to go through the motions of a steamy romance with an outrageously hawt guy.

  39. Tomon 08 Jul 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Yeah, I remember reading somewhere an abridged version of the Twilight script and Bella said ‘I don’t know, I’m just a hollow shell that every teenage girl in the audience can project their personalities into’.

    But that doesn’t excuse the useless nature of her character and how she constantly needs saving.

  40. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 3:22 pm

    The 10 Times Shorter and 100 Times More Honest version of Twilight, Tom? Haha, I loved that.

    “KRISTEN STEWART: Me? Oh, no. I’m just a hollow placeholder for all of the teenage girls in the audience to project their personalities onto. I have none of my own whatsoever.”

  41. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Nermal’s a guy? Ack. Haha. Ok. I swear I won’t follow that down the Tangent Hole.

  42. Tomon 08 Jul 2009 at 3:28 pm

    @B. Mac: Yeah, that’s the one. In fact I probably heard about it on this site. If not here then TV Tropes probably. I’m sure that’s the page quote for something.

    Speaking of Tropes: I just got a superhero-related trope launched. Ain’t I awesome?

  43. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I’m interested to know which trope, but that’s sort of unrelated to the topic thread, so could you tell me on your review forum or mine?

  44. Tomon 08 Jul 2009 at 3:52 pm

    See your review forum.

    Back to the topic here- is it worth talking about female characters we like, or characteristics of likable female characters? Personally I like Superman The Animated Series’ take on Lois Lane (and Lana Lang for that matter). I can’t pretend to know what the comic versions are like but they’re both very likable in the show. Or is that not relevant to this topic?

  45. Trollitradeon 08 Jul 2009 at 4:31 pm

    It’s totally worth talking about loveable female characters. It would probably help Marissa if we talked about dislikes AND likes! Earlier, Whovian mentioned Belle’s awesome Xaldin-escaping scene from KH2. I majorly agree with that – it was awesome. In fact, Belle herself is awesome.

    Belle is my favorite Disney princess because she isn’t wishy-washy, faint-hearted, helpless, or dependent. Disney heroines like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty never had much ambition for themselves other than “finding their true love and getting married”. They depended on other people to protect and save them all the time, and their “big prize” in the end was meeting a handsome prince. Mostly, all those two did was sob or faint whenever things got bad, but not Belle.

    Belle had a personality and dreams of her own that DIDN’T just revolve around love. She was adventurous, smart, and didn’t need someone to come to her defense all the time. And all the while, she wasn’t tomboyish, either. I love tomboyish characters. 🙂 But I also love that Belle managed to be adventurous AND feminine. As a kid, I didn’t feel like I had to “be more like boys” to be as cool as Belle, lol.

    But she’s not perfect, either. When the Beast scares her into breaking her promise and running away from the castle, she’s acting on pure emotion and doesn’t even consider how dangerous the woods are at night. So the Beast was injured trying to save her, but Belle actually DID try to fight for herself, even though she was terrified. She took a swing at a wolf’s snout with a branch, but there was no way she could win.

    She was no warrior, remember. The Beast DID save her, but she wasn’t all sobby about it. She and the Beast even argued LOUDLY about whose fault it was, but Belle still wasn’t too proud to thank him for saving her, and help him with his wounds.

    I felt like this advanced the story much better than regular old “Rinoa gets kidnapped” stuff. She didn’t just make the situation worse for the hero. She got herself into trouble because she reasoned emotionally, but it was still for an understandable (and not a ditzy) reason.

    And another thing, I also love that Belle didn’t mope around or become depressed as the Beast’s new prisoner. Of course, she was upset at losing her father and being trapped, and she did cry. Women do that – we cry. But still, even after fighting with the beast and feeling miserable, she DID try to make the best of a bad situation.

    After having some time to regain herself, she actually risked defying the Beast by exploring the castle and letting her adventurous nature show itself. I don’t feel like Belle ever acted the role of a “victim”.

    She got into a difficult situation, but still tried to be positive about it after she calmed down. Even though she DID have to be rescued in the film, it was pulled off well. Belle rocks. 🙂

  46. Trollitradeon 08 Jul 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Actually, as a random remark here…

    I think there’s a balance to be found between “dependent” and “independent” heroines.

    Many people dislike wishy-washy heroines that are completely dependent upon the heroes to make their lives bright.
    But overly indepedent heroines can be annoying, too.

    Again, using the Belle example…

    Belle isn’t dependent on anyone, and she can handle herself mostly, but she still needs her friends to keep her going strong. She does NEED people. She even needs Beast to rescue her here and there.

    But she isn’t completely utterly dependent on him. She’s not a useless, sobbing mess without his help. She may not be the toughest girl around, but she still tries to make the best of things. She accepts help when she needs it, or even just when it’s offered.

    She isn’t out there to prove anything. She’s not trying to prove she can “take care of herself” or that she “doesn’t need anybody” or that “she’s as good as the guys”. She’s just an intelligent, adventurous young woman who just makes the best out of a bad situation.

    I think it’s a good mix between being dependent and independent. She really does rely on her friends, and the Beast, but she isn’t useless without them.

  47. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 5:48 pm

    I think it’s definitely worth talking about interesting female characters, Tom. What is it you like about the Superman cartoon’s take on Lois and Lana?

  48. Nic_Ton 08 Jul 2009 at 7:09 pm

    What does everybody think about Wonder Woman?

  49. Bretton 08 Jul 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I liked the DCAU version and the DC Animated Movie version, which is slightly different.

  50. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I feel that she’s a thinly-developed Mary Sue. I couldn’t name a single flaw she has, which really limits her story potential, I think. I suspect she would play a more meaningful role if she overlapped less with Superman, who is also a huge Mary Sue. To the extent that she has any distinguishing traits, I’d say it’s that she’s a warrior and Superman isn’t, but everything about her feels like she isn’t a warrior. (She’s been an ambassador, she’s generally very gentle, she rarely makes hard decisions, she more or less refuses to kill, she’s definitely liberal, etc).

    In contrast, I feel like John Stewart has a personality that makes it feel believable that he’s an inactive US Marine. (I would have said “ex-Marine” but sometimes they get surly about that sort of thing). Specifically, he’s very organized and disciplined, he’s hard on underperforming teammates, he’s willing to make hard calls for the greater good, etc.

    Shit! A car just got totaled right outside of my window. 911 time!

  51. scribblaron 08 Jul 2009 at 8:07 pm

    I thought Whovian was a bloke.

    I have a problem with feminism because it so often and easily becomes extreme. I believe women should be equal to men, but they should be raised up to equality. Feminism often seems to be about degrading men. I have the same issue about racism, where it is fine to be racist against white people.


    I hate porno characters. In particular I hate Anita Blake. Mostly I hate her because, story after story, she refuses to have sex with wolves in wolf form, until she changes her mind and does it. It’s like “I will not… I will not… I will not… okay, I will.” And she gets her power through sex. So she has sex with EVERYONE she ever meets, usually before she learns their name.

    I love Isabel Fisher. She’s such a bad ass, like John McClane on HRT.

    I hate eye candy girls, mostly in movies. You know, Claire Danes in Terminator 3.

    I love quirky kick ass freaks, like the only characters Summer Glau ever plays.

    I hate damsels.

    I hate flipped stereotypes (Princess Fiona from Shrek)

    I hate Special K’s (characters made from cornflake boxes; like Arya or Bella).

    I hate shrinking violets.

    I love complexity.

    I love people (male and female) who have their own agendas, and screw the hero.

    I like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even Early Days Willow.

    I like take charge females, like Michelle Ryan’s character in the one-off Easter Dr Who.

  52. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 08 Jul 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Whoa! A car crash? I hope no one’s hurt!

    I generally like characters like Belle over the more whiny type, but I like Misa Amane from Death Note.

    She whines and cries, clings around Light’s neck like a pendant whenever she sees him… but she is faking some of her stupidity, and is actually quite clever when she wants/needs to be.

    Misa won’t crack under pressure when (rightly) suspected of murder, and will not say anything that could implicate Light’s mission of purifying the world and becoming a god. She has caused Light further trouble and for L’s suspicion of him to get deeper on more than one occasion, but overall she is helpful, even if she is so obsessed with her boyfriend that she lets him manipulate her.

    Her whining is obnoxious at times, but is played for comedy. “Light, can you please make Misa be quiet now?” And then there’s the part where Aizawa shoves her into her room and locks the door so they don’t have to talk to her anymore. Haha.

    I also like Risa Koizumi from Love Com. She is insecure about her height (5”7’, in Japan, where the average height for a girl is 5”2’) and acts like an idiot at times, so much so that she fights with Atsushi Otani (a very short boy) They are collectively reffered to as “All Hanshin Kyojin” by their classmates, after a comedy duo.

    I like her because of her attitude. She covers up her sensitivity by constantly yelling at Otani and hitting him, but over time she starts to develop feelings for him. She struggles to tell him so, but he takes it the wrong way and thinks she means she likes him as a friend, and makes it clear he wouldn’t want to be anything more. Risa gets upset over it, but eventually resumes her normal behaviour, though she thinks about him a lot more and makes plans to get him to fall for her. Risa enacts these plans, which usually go horribly wrong, and that isn’t helped by Otani being hard to read.

    Risa needs her friends, Nobuko and Chiharu, for advice and motivation when she falls into sadness. After talking to them, she usually comes up with plans that work better than her independent ones, but in the end it is her being herself and Nobuko’s boyfriend talking to Otani that makes Otani realize how much he does like her. (Leading to one of the cutest scenes ever! Haha)

    Basically, she is strong but not invincible, needs her friends for help, and relies mostly upon her emotions, which cause almost all of the conflict. She resolves it mostly on her own, but needs help sometimes, and refuses to give up until she is completely and utterly discouraged. Strangely, that is what it takes to get Otani to realize how hurt she is, so he finally reveals his feelings.

    Eve from Black Cat is only young, but can destroy anyone in a fight. She largely depends on Train and Sven from guidance and her material needs, and is sort of like an adopted daughter to Sven and sister to Train. However, she has been shown to use knowledge obtained from her excessive reading in a fight. She has employed strategies like turning her entire body into solid steel, turning her hair into nano blades and turning her arm into a sword or hammer. She can do a lot more than just that, and transformed into a mermaid at one point so she wouldn’t drown.

    Eve has needed help from them on more than one occasion, but is usually fine without it. She considers herself a rival to Train and wants to become the best fighter around. Her determination is my favourite thing about her. She wants to be the best and not have to rely on her friends so much, but knows that she needs them.

  53. Marissaon 08 Jul 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Just so people know, if you’re using examples from anime or manga, please explain them like RW did. Death Note is the only anime or manga I’ve seen, so just listing names won’t help me out.

    Thanks for all this, guys. 😀

  54. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Ooh, sorry, Scribblar. Your post got delayed because our spam filters include “Anita Blake” and “porno.” I just gave it approval, so it should appear normally.

  55. ShardReaperon 08 Jul 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Scarlett from the new GI Joe looks like she can be more than just a pretty face. I just hope that she isn’t one of those types who unknowingly flirts or chats with her bf Snake-Eyes about what they do when their time is over (i.e.,”we’re gonna have three beautiful kids and live on the countryside” or some other nonsense).

    In regards to anime, I liked Sakura from Naruto when she wasn’t screwing around in her own head like Niki from Heroes or trying to unlock Sasuke’s Sharingan, if you know what I mean. She was a hell of a lot less annoying once she cut her hair; the girls I know with long hair just strike me the wrong way for some reason.

  56. B. Macon 08 Jul 2009 at 11:51 pm

    I really hope that she did not start dating a ninja in the hopes of retiring on the countryside.

  57. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 09 Jul 2009 at 12:02 am

    Oh, I also like the Harada twins from DNAngel. A little background:

    Daisuke Niwa is an average 14 year old with a crush on a girl, Risa Harada. He is rejected by her, because she sees him as a friend. On his fourteenth birthday, he is thinking about her when something weird happens. He transforms into a guy who looks 17-18 with purple hair. He doesn’t look like himself at all.

    He runs to his mother and she explains that it is a genetic condition that affects every male in his family at their fourteenth birthday. It will only be fixed once his true love loves him back. What’s more, this condition is like another person who lives inside his head, and takes over shortly after the transformation. He is named Dark, and is a thief who steals cursed artworks to purify them. He is also a shameless flirt and whenever Daisuke is mentioned around him, he will try to embarrass him for fun.

    Risa Harada learns about Dark through the news, and sees him as the perfect guy. She is bored with her normal life and so wants some adventure, which is why Dark appeals to her. She is more feminine than her sister and a bit of a crybaby, but she knows what she wants and will try incessantly to get it, not knowing that it is Daisuke. (Depending on whether you consider Dark a split personality, but I don’t. Dark remembers all being in the other guys in the Niwa family, knowledge Daisuke wouldn’t have)

    In short, Risa is after adventure, and while she doesn’t want to give up her life as a rich girl, she is getting tired of it. Because All Girls Want Bad Boys, she pursues Dark as a boyfriend. She gets upset sometimes, but if she is told she can’t have something she will do anything to get it.

    Riku is sporty and tries to keep Risa from doing stupid things that will get her into trouble, and is often unwillingly dragged along to the scenes of Dark’s robberies. She resents being dragged into Risa’s plans, but cooperates because she cares so much. She likes Daisuke, further complicating things. She is suspicious of him and sets up a few tests to see if he is Dark. Riku is kind-hearted and tries to help anyone she can, but sometimes it takes a lot to convince her. She can get very angry if someone lies to her.

    In short, Riku is levelheaded and tomboyish, but also a little distrusting of people. She prefers to plan things herself, because she knows Risa would just cause trouble. If the situation is dangerous, she prefers to stop and think rather than jump right into it. She gets angry if she believes someone is hiding something and will try to trick them into revealing the truth.

    Of the two, I prefer Riku.

  58. Tomon 09 Jul 2009 at 1:25 am

    “Tom. What is it you like about the Superman cartoon’s take on Lois and Lana?”

    The thing I liked about Lana is that from her first appearance in the show (not counting Clark’s Kidroduction http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AMinorKidroduction in High School), she acts pretty cool. After being saved by Superman she says to him ‘nice costume. Let me guess, Martha sewed it’, saying straight away that she’d figured it out. She then spends the rest of the episode helping Superman by spying on Luthor. She was also independent, eager and likable.

    As for Lois, I liked her because every time she got kidnapped, threatened etc she would try her hardest to get away. Sometimes she even succeeded, she would fight back against her captor and so her best to free herself instead of waiting for Superman. Also, she was a well-developed, three-dimensional character who would always jokingly mock Clark by calling him ‘Smallville’, but in the one where Clark ‘died’, she tells Superman (long story…) that she always kinda liked the guy. Also, in the grand finale of the show, SHE saved SUPERMAN from military custody! She snuck into the base and helped Supes to escape and get to Apokolips. Also, it’s worth noting that in the parallel universe where Lois died Superman turned into a power hungry tyrant, showing just how much of a pivotal role she plays in his life.

    So yeah, Lois and Lana, two most awesome female characters.

  59. Beccaon 09 Jul 2009 at 4:14 am

    “Speaking of Twilight, how is it possible for a female writer to make such a horrible female character?”

    Three words, (and no desire to offend) : Mormon female writer.

    And I definitely agree with what Trollitrade said, “I think there’s a balance to be found between “dependent” and “independent” heroines.” Of course, I dislike passive damsels in distress, but another thing that bothers me is female characters who are so overblown it’s just ridiculous, like the tough warrior chick or the renegade. You know? Characters who are so the opposite of damsels in distress that it’s just as offensive.

    Yes, I love Belle. Even Jasmine from Aladdin (“I am not a prize to be won!”) was strong in a way. A female character I loved, for her femininity and sweetness but also her social awkwardness, was the title character of the French movie Amelie. If you’ve never seen it, I recommend checking it out.

  60. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 09 Jul 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Oh, another note about Risa Harada: while she is an awesome character, I want to slap her in the face sometimes. When she runs in without thinking, she usually gets herself in trouble and that means Dark has to steal/evade police/fight Krad and rescue her on top of it all. If she’s going to run into dangerous situations without thinking, she should at least learn karate or judo or something.

    Granted, on a couple of occasions she ran in to help Dark when he was injured, like in the anime when he got a sword through the shoulder. Even then she ran up to him screaming, ignored Dark when he told her to leave, and then Krad promptly picked her up with mind power (think the Force) and began to torture her. Riku went to save her because Dark was in a heap of pain, and then Krad picked on her instead.

    Just think, Risa! Sneak up behind Krad with a block of wood or let his groin meet Ms. Foot! Even better, let his groin meet Mr. Block of Wood. When facing an enemy who could rip you apart with his strength or his mind, subtlety is how you avoid ending up in the morgue! Even worse, it could be your sister or friend/boyfriend who ends up dead! Jeez, she is awesome but stupid at the same time.

  61. B. Macon 09 Jul 2009 at 7:28 pm

    “She is awesome but stupid at the same time.” A kindred soul! 😉

  62. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 09 Jul 2009 at 7:43 pm

    “I thought Whovian was a bloke”. Gee, thanks a lot, Scribblar! Haha. Nah, I’m kidding. Like I said, I act more like a guy than a girl. To quote Debra from Dexter:

    “Ugh, me in a dress. I feel like a transvestite.”
    “I hate shrinking violets.”

    I love them!

    I guess I love to see shrinking violets get over their shyness and become more confident, because it reminds me of myself. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a guy or girl, or whatever causes them to become more confident, even if it’s Break the Cutie (which is sort of what happened to me, with constant bullying in primary school). I just love seeing that character development. It’s the same deal with jerk characters; I like to see how they change for the better, or the worse.

  63. ShardReaperon 09 Jul 2009 at 7:50 pm

    It’s sort of lame when a female character acts like such a tough guy (or girl in this case) to normal people but when coming up against forces she’s never met, she gets all scared little girl. And when dealing with guards, she’ll do the same tough routine like she owns the place. Also a pet peeve: little girls that look sweet then immediately start busting heads. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a guy who likes the weak girls, I just don’t want the “Am I the only one who sees she’s evil?!” line every other chapter/issue/episode (Fairly Oddparents, I’m looking at you!)

  64. B. Macon 09 Jul 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Becca, another thing I like about Jasmine is that she contributes to the team in clever and brave ways. For example, she tricks Jafar into thinking that she has fallen in love with him. “Your beard… is so… twisted.”

    There are tons of female characters that saved the hero with a crucial distraction, but usually it’s less creative. For example, the love-interest/hostage might wrestle the villain for the gun at a critical moment, giving the cop the perfect opportunity to shot the bad guy. That’s not quite as impressive as what Jasmine did, which required guile and the ability to seize an opportunity.

  65. Wingson 11 Jul 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Did I miss the rant on Bella Swan? If not, I’ll begin it.

    Self Insert – To quote somewhere else I can’t remember – “when asked to describe Bella, Meyer pretty much described herself”

    Mary Sue – Good lord, she embodies this –

    – Flock of boys who love her, although she “isn’t” beautiful

    – Personality = nothing

    – Is easily pushed around by Edward (Prom anyone?) and doesn’t care

    – Two words: stalker boyfriend (Don’t. Get. Me. Started.)

    – Wings

  66. Marissaon 11 Jul 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Ahhh, Bella I can work with. She’s one of maybe five total females I’ve recognized that have been mentioned in this thread, one of which being Olive Oyl from Popeye (which is a cartoon for little kids, so I really doubt I can critique her character at all).

  67. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Jul 2009 at 12:13 am

    In the movie, Bella had barely any facial expressions. Blank face after blank face. The only two others she had were an occasional smile and a grimace of pain. Kristen Stewart is a good actress, but her role as Bella limited her potential.

    Hey, I’m not beautiful! Where the hell is my flock of boys?! Haha. The only real justification I can think of is that the students were fascinated by the “big city girl”. There is a similar situation at my school every year, when we get Japanese and European exchange students, everyone follows them around and asks them to say stuff in whatever language they speak. But that doesn’t explain why the small town teens are so fixated on Bella. Sure, they may have wanted a new friend, but the guys practically stalk her and Edward does stalk her .

  68. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Jul 2009 at 12:46 am

    I was just looking through stalker tropes on TVTropes, and the picture on this page made me laugh really hard.


  69. Tomon 12 Jul 2009 at 2:22 am

    What’s this? We’re bashing Twilight? Then check out the page quote from this Tropes article, added by yours truly.


    On topic: Self-inserts are usually considered a bad thing, right? Well there’s one example of a really good self-insert female character. It’s very subtle, because she’s not the title character of the book, but the female author has said that she is heavily based on herself. I am of course talking about Hermione from Harry Potter. She is exactly the way Rowling was in high school (according to Rowling). The thing is though, her uptight attitude and smarty-pantsness are a brilliant foil to Ron’s comic relief role, and both Harry and Ron’s occasional stupidity. So yeah, Hermione, a self-insert that’s actually a likable character.

  70. Yogion 12 Jul 2009 at 4:40 am

    There’s a difference between Hermione and Bella though. Bella was specifically designed to allow the reader to insert themselves into her role, and has absolutely no characteristics. An ordinary character would have flaws and interests like Hermione. Bella has none. There’s a You Are Bella series on youtube that’s really enlightening about this aspect. Do you like knitting? So does Bella! Do you like ballet? What a coincidence, so does Bella! Do you want to be a writer? So does Bella!

    Hermione on the other hand, has actual goals, and she’s not meant to allow readers to slip into her role. Rowling has stated that Hermione in the first book was a caricature of herself, but this aspect was toned down, as she began to develop in different ways.

  71. Asayaon 12 Jul 2009 at 12:59 pm

    In my opinion, I hate girl characters who always go for the hunky love interest. Instead of noticing the person who actually appreciates them, they go after the ripped muscular guy with good hair, lol.

    Also, if I read, hear, or see another female character that is described as “considerate and kind” I’m going to rip the pages out of every novel I see. While I’m not a sexist or anything, it would be nice to see a callous or serious female character who has something else to do besides bake cookies and bind the heroes wounds.

  72. FarawaySoulon 12 Jul 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Fuwa… this is really going to help me write Evangeline for my book!

    Hope the guide comes out soon 😀

  73. Marissaon 12 Jul 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Some women are considerate and kind though, Asaya. As long as kindness isn’t their only trait, I think they’re fine.

    For example, my ‘kind and considerate’ chick is the leader of one side of the team’s first big internal argument. It’s her .vs. the team’s… tactician, I guess you could call her? She’s standing up for something she thinks is right (as opposed to logical), which is totally in-character for her.

    I’ve been trying to think of an example in TV or literature, since I know there are some, but I can’t think of any at the moment. B. Mac, any come to mind?

  74. B. Macon 12 Jul 2009 at 4:55 pm

    “something she thinks is right (as opposed to logical)…” Like Kirk vs. Spock in Star Trek or maybe Lucius Fox vs. Batman in TDK. Superman and Wonder-Woman and Green Arrow often play the compassionate foil to Batman, Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern.

  75. JackiePetrellion 12 Jul 2009 at 5:13 pm

    To me there are three sterotypes that can kill a female character.
    1) The dumb blonde, where the character only cares about fashion and is whiny little bitch that relies on others to protect her
    2) The damsel-in-distress, who is completely helpless and just sits around waiting to be rescued
    3) The bimbo, pretty self-explanatory

    Some good character models are Tracy Strauss from Heroes, very bad-ass and awesome, Fiona from Shrek, and finally Eowyn from LOTR, love the “No man can kill me!” “I ain’t a man, asshole”. [Youtube links below.]

    NOTE: These can also apply to male characters but appear less frequently (Ron from Kim Possible, etc.)

    Tracy- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZQ8qll75nA&feature=related
    Fiona- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQxBUOtBiY8&feature=related (sorry best i could find)
    Eowyn- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSNPeJAgBzo&feature=related

  76. B. Macon 12 Jul 2009 at 5:50 pm

    “The dumb blonde, where the character only cares about fashion…” I’ve been thinking about this and I agree that characters that are supposed to be fashion-conscious are usually awful. More often than not, it seems like a character that an author says a character is fashion-conscious to suggest that she has no practical skills.

    Also, it’s virtually impossible for most stories to use fashion-consciousness in a way that it is actually impressive. “I just found a purse that matches my shoes perfectly!”
    “Great, honey. Now let me fight the aliens some more.”

    I suspect that fashion-consciousness would be somewhat less useless if the character were familiar with designing fashion rather than using it. Then it could be used to show that the character is resourceful, a problem-solver, creative, maybe cunning, etc. Also, it’d probably be easier to work this into a plot. IE: The character is a small-time clothes designer whose life dream is to win some clothing competition. But everything goes wrong and she has to overcome the superior money and equipment of her competition. … Seriously, TV shows have been made out of less.

  77. Ragged Boyon 12 Jul 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Wow, looks like I joined this party way late. I guess the only thing I can say is “I agree.” I hope that isn’t so broad that I get into trouble. The main thing that annoys me about female characters is the drama that comes with the idea of sexuality. If I say I like girls that dress sexy, I get my head ripped off and hear a speech about how girls don’t need to be sexy. I almost like girls are supposed to be these skinless creatures that are beautiful, but not sexy (which I don’t get). I understand the lines between sexy and slutty. I go by the rules of fashion. There are some things that I think are way sexy that don’t even touch slutty. I guess it’s a matter of taste. I can only promise that I’ll make outfits as fashion forward as possible and girls as competent as possible. I apologize in advance for midriff and legs.

  78. Marissaon 12 Jul 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Watch out, don’t make girls too competent. People seem to hate that, too. ;D

  79. Ragged Boyon 12 Jul 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Girls are such weird, beautiful creatures. 😉

  80. B. Macon 12 Jul 2009 at 6:44 pm

    But not too beautiful! You wouldn’t want to make them just eye-candy! Okay, I’ll stop now. 🙂

  81. Marissaon 12 Jul 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Yeah, that’s what we’ve generally agreed. Pretty and beautiful are in one category, sexy is in another.

  82. ShardReaperon 12 Jul 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Yeah, sexy borders more on a female who basically makes all the guys in the room wanna knock her out and drag her to a closet for a few hours, where pretty is more like that genuine feeling that you get when she smiles at you or talks to you.

  83. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Jul 2009 at 7:14 pm

    “Girls are such weird, beautiful creatures”.

    And guys are such weird, unintelligent slobs. Haha. Kidding.

  84. *i88*on 12 Jul 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Hello everyone, I know I’m a little late to be in here but as a female I’m going to bash and defend some traits/roles of female characters in multimedia:

    1: Dummy Head Character/Dumb Blonde (Thank you, Jackie, for bringing it up. Dummies are usually love interests and just have a generic personality. However I have a character who isn’t the brightest bulb in the tanning bed and is chasing after a guy who’s her best friend but is oblivious (which makes her seem slightly dimmer) but I made sure her character was developed enough to prevent any slashes.

    2: DID (Damsel In Distress): Good God, are we in the middle ages or something? This is the most cliche, overused, and really roll your eyes worthy way of using a female character. I don’t use this method because i have read the books on king Arthur and they basically just hang around waiting for a “noble knight” to either ignore them, slay them, rape them (which happens surprisingly often in those books *shudders*), or actually help them. Writers, please don’t do it.

    3: The Its: by its I do not mean bisexuals, tomboys, or anything related to that. I’m talking about trying too hard to make guys like your character if it’s in first person for example and making the gal overpowered, have some unfitting qualities, ect. But don’t get me wrong, if you can develop a character that isn’t cringe-worthy, you deserve a high-five.

    4: Mary Sues/Universal Roles: This goes for guys and gals! Ok, Twilight (I did like the series even though it was literary crack) is the perfect example of this. What is Bella’s personality like? Good golly, I have no clue! See what the author did? She made the character (keep in mind for those who haven’t read it this is all first person) someone where the reader could step into her shoes. Never in the history of forever do this if you want your manuscript to be your own. I maybe should write an article on here on my problems with Twilight (again even though I did like it) because when you think about it, did this character have any goals before she met Edward? No. Why did every person in her new school want to be her friend? Nobody knows. So again I say, don’t do it, guys.

    That concludes my little insert.

  85. scribblaron 13 Jul 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Hermione is a fairly obvious insert character, and a bit of a Mary-Sue. With the exception of being a smart arse (which she is cured of in the first book) she is constantly told how intelligent she is… “brightest witch of your age.” When she does herself up (for the dance with Viktor) she turns the head of every guy and girl in the school. She pulls Viktor Klum, international sporting superhero (like Beckham falling for a sixteen year old). She is so smart she gets to time travel to study extra classes. She takes the fall for the troll in the toilet. She is gutsy, loyal, loving and pulls Ron Weasley (who, if we’re honest, is a better catch than HP – he has severe anger issues).

    I didn’t like Fiona in Shrek – she was 1D. She waited in the tower (damsel in distress) but kicked the ass of Robin Hood (complete opposite of Damsel). I just felt there was nothing sincere or honest about her.

    Still, her personality wasn’t as flat as Bella.

  86. *i88*on 14 Jul 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Well scibblar, Stephanie Meyer even said it herself that she didn’t give Bella much of a personality so the reader could get into her mindset. This is Mary Sue to the max! Did Bella or any characters grow or develop over the course of the four books? No. Did any of the major characters die? (sorry if I’m spoiling) No! When Meyer was describing Bella on her website, she was basically describing herself. Mary Sue extreme.

  87. scribblaron 16 Jul 2009 at 6:04 am

    Oh, yeah, I’m not arguing there. I haven’t read the books and I won’t, mainly because I have no desire to be a 17 year old girl.

    All I’m saying is that Hermione is also a Mary Sue.

  88. Ragged Boyon 16 Jul 2009 at 6:08 am

    “And guys are such weird, unintelligent slobs. Haha. Kidding.”

    I stand to doubt that you’re kidding, but okay. Just kidding. 😉

  89. Ragged Boyon 16 Jul 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Just so you know, I do plan on having a female character who at first glance would be taken for a sexually promiscuous girl. All I plan to show is thigh, but I’m pretty sure that takes her over the edge. I’ll probably give some sort of explanation. I planned for Adrian to be on a team with two girls. The antithesis of most trios. I intended for one of the girls to be a cleaner girl who looks down on her.

  90. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 16 Jul 2009 at 10:20 pm

    “I have no desire to be a 17 year old girl”.

    OMFG I CAN’T BELIVE U JEST SED TAHT!!!!111one1eleven

    Haha. Yeah, but not all seventeen year old girls like Twilight. I’m not seventeen yet, but I don’t like Twilight at all. It kind of reminds me of my early stories from when I was ten. (facepalms)

    I never killed a single character, the girl in a wheelchair learned how to walk, the boy in a coma woke up, when they got lost they always got found, they were smart, attractive, charming, funny and kind.

    When their house was burned down they shrugged and rebuilt it. The boys were strong, even the six year old, and the girls were skilled in swift combat. Everyone agreed with them all the time. They were friends to all living things.

    I added extra characters just because I felt like it, until the story was bursting at the seams with over one hundred of them, some of which appeared every fifty (short) chapters. The central family alone consisted of the couple, their eight children, the mother’s parents, brother and sister. Later on each child got married and had their own kids. Imagine the family tree!

    Quite frankly, I sucked. Badly. Words cannot describe the extent of my fail. I see that kind of amateurism in Twilight, and it is probably why I dislike it so much. I remember writing a bash fic about my own characters, where I had them ripped apart by dingoes, burned alive, murdered, fed to rats etc until they were all dead. I felt so much better after writing it, because it killed my fail and I actually saw that the massacre fic was better than my original story.

    Yes, I know I’m weird for killing every character in a painful way. At least it made me feel better about my writing. My favourite bit was definitely this one:

    “Sarah tried to back away from the dingo, unable to focus on anything but its bared teeth. She screamed as it leapt on her, and the last thing she ever saw was its fiery eyes”.

    Take THAT!

  91. scribblaron 17 Jul 2009 at 12:20 pm

    That’s hilarious.

    I wasn’t sure what all the 1’s meant, but it’s obvious B.Mac is absent.


    I’m a 26 year old guy, why the heck would I want to be a 17 year old girl? Oh, make-up, oh bfs, oh bffs, oh golly I suck.

    We should feed Bella to Dingoes, then the people who read it would understand that this was the fate waiting for them.

  92. Marissaon 17 Jul 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Hey now, Scribblar. I’m a seventeen year old girl and almost take offense to that last bit. =|

  93. scribblaron 17 Jul 2009 at 1:13 pm

    That wasn’t directed at 17 year old girls, it was for die hard fans of Twilight of any age.

    I’ve nothing against 17 year old girls per se.

  94. scribblaron 17 Jul 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I’m digging a hole here, aren’t I?

    You know what, I really like the women in the Dresden Files. Karen Murphy and Luccio are the best of a really good bunch. I also like that Dresden isn’t getting it on in every other book.

  95. Marissaon 17 Jul 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Don’t worry about it, it’s all good. 😀

  96. Holliequon 17 Jul 2009 at 6:11 pm

    As an almost-seventeen-year-old girl, I also find that nearly insulting.

    …I would never use the word golly! 😀

  97. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 17 Jul 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Oh, jeez. I really hate it when teen characters angst over breakups. Sure, they can be sometimes difficult or painful, especially if the circumstances were messy, like finding out that your boyfriend/girlfriend was cheating, but I’ve always been taught to get over it. It’s usually not worth the energy it takes to cry over it. I’ve never dated either, but if I got dumped I’d just ignore him.

    I read somewhere that in the second Twilight book, there are ten blank pages after Edward dumps Bella to symbolise her inner emptiness. If I wrote it and gave Bella a personality, there would be two blank pages and then in big, bold letters: “SCREW YOU, EDWARD!”

    Come on! No one would leap off a cliff because their sparkly vampire bishie dumped them. Even if they did, said sparklepire would have a hard time saving them, even with Sue-per speed and Sue-per strength. Haha.

  98. Wingson 17 Jul 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Haha…I’d pay you to write that.

    – Wings

  99. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 Jul 2009 at 12:26 am

    I’m thinking of borrowing the book from my school library and rewriting it as an exercise. I could post it on fanfiction.net and give the link to Twilightsucks.com so they can read it and decide which version is better. Haha.

  100. Marissaon 18 Jul 2009 at 12:29 am

    One of these years I’m rewriting Blood and Chocolate. The one about werewolves. It’s worse even than Twilight.

  101. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 Jul 2009 at 12:42 am

    “She… pulls Ron Weasley (who, if we’re honest, is a better catch than HP – he has severe anger issues)”.

    “I’m feeling cranky and pubescent today, and I know know why! Grrrr! I think I’m going to take it out on people I like!” Haha, I love the Potter Puppet Pals.

    I haven’t read all the books, but I think Hermione has been pulled off quite well in the movies. I didn’t notice much Sueness, really. I was quite distracted by the awesome when she whacked Draco in the face in the third movie. I would’ve done the same. He’s such a jerk.

  102. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 Jul 2009 at 12:45 am

    Lolwut? Blood and Chocolate? That’s a weird title. Sputum and Marshmallows! Haha.

    I just looked at the rating the movie got on Rotten Tomatoes. 11 out of 100. Looks like it needs to be rewritten very badly.

  103. Marissaon 18 Jul 2009 at 12:48 am

    Check it out of the library. The book is even worse. Hahah… It’s almost worth reading just so you feel that much better about your own writing.

  104. FarawaySoulon 18 Jul 2009 at 1:57 am

    In Darren Shan, I liked the character Debbie Hemlock. She (the older one) was developed well, and despite being a human, was tough enough to stand up to superhuman threats. She was also developed independently of the main character.

    The first time she was captured, she elbowed the face of a vampire (vampaneze) and got away at a crucial point in battle. (only to be captured again by a different vampaneze in the midst of battle… but, oh well)

    I’m not so good at describing things here, but to those who’ve read the series, I hope you’ll agree.

  105. Marissaon 18 Jul 2009 at 2:02 am

    Yeah, I loved Debbie. It made me so mad that they gave her such a generic name, though. ‘Debbie’ ensures 99% of the time that the character isn’t important.

  106. Tomon 18 Jul 2009 at 3:04 am

    “I read somewhere that in the second Twilight book, there are ten blank pages after Edward dumps Bella to symbolise her inner emptiness.” I don’t know if that was edited out of the version I read (quite possible, because it wasn’t hard copy) but that wasn’t there. Instead, after the end of the chapter it says, in big, pretentious letters ‘don’t panic’.

    LOL, I wish. It really said:




    Just like that. What made it even more pretentious is that that appeared IN THE CONTENTS PAGE, despite there being nothing but those words there. I don’t know what she was playing at but it really annoyed me.

    Incidentally, I’m currently reading the second book, and it’s currently quite good. Why? Edward hasn’t appeared for about 60 pages and Bella’s being independent. If only he wasn’t coming back later on…

  107. Scribblaron 18 Jul 2009 at 3:42 am

    Ha, bash Twilight.

    But I’m wondering why, after all Twilight is not the worst book in the world.

    That award goes to Eragon, methinks.

  108. B. Macon 18 Jul 2009 at 9:46 am

    Ehh, it’s a discussion thread about female characters. I think Twilight has come up a bit more than Eragon because Eragon’s female characters, although fairly awful, play a blessedly small role.

  109. Scribblaron 18 Jul 2009 at 11:55 am

    That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that. As bland as they are, they’re not often on the page.

  110. Mia.xoxoon 18 Jul 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I agree with the posts above saying that bimbos or stereotypical “girly-girls” are generally unlikeable, I have managed to find one that was done really well.

    Did anyone watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel? Cordelia started out as sort of a filler personality for the Scoobies in Buffy and really grew into a woman near the end of the third season and then continued in Angel. Of course, it may be hard to translate this into a novel or a comic where someone may come off immediately as unlikeable, but eventually when she was cheated on by the “average guy” it was hard not to feel sorry for her and see her grow up beyond her fashion-and-looks-only days.

    If anyone was looking for good female characters to try and analyze, I would try Joss Whedon’s creations, because of both physically and emotionally strong and weak characters, with enough flaws to cancel out the Mary-Sue sort of women in Whedon’s life.

  111. Marissaon 18 Jul 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I can most definitely use Whedon’s as good examples, that’s one canon I’m very familiar with.

    But for the record, Cordy was never a ‘bimbo’ or a ‘girly-girl’. That was more her sidekick, Harmony. Cordelia was a different stereotype altogether: Queen Bee. Or ‘Queen B’, the ‘B’ being short for something a bit less nice. Those type girls are nearly always the antagonist, so I loved that Whedon fleshed her out and made her a part of things.

  112. Tomon 18 Jul 2009 at 2:21 pm

    From what I’ve heard about Whedon, he has a habit of killing off a lot of girl characters. I don’t know what that says about him…

  113. Marissaon 18 Jul 2009 at 2:45 pm

    In Angel and Buffy, he killed just as many men as women.

  114. Tomon 18 Jul 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Ah, I understand now.

  115. ShardReaperon 18 Jul 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I really enjoyed the females in Sarah Connor. Except for Weaver, they all had fairly consistent personalities and had a lot of depth. Wish it wasn’t cancelled.

  116. *i88*on 20 Jul 2009 at 7:12 pm

    I liked the female characters in Napoleon Dynamite, is that a bad comparison?

  117. B. Macon 20 Jul 2009 at 7:16 pm

    What did you like about them? I haven’t seen Napoleon Dynamite.

  118. *i88*on 22 Jul 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Well, they did develop over time even though the main characters were all guys. Deb (Napoleon Dymnamite’s friend/partial love interest) had a sort of distinctive personality that if she were writing a letter and didn’t sign, you would still know she wrote it, you know? That’s what I look for: female characters that are unique. B. Mac, I would highly suggest seeing Napoleon Dynamite. It’s an awesome comedy.

  119. mrs marvelon 29 Jul 2009 at 5:14 pm

    I think Mary jane because she dosn’t do anything but make a relationship harder for spiderman to purse. Overall I think she just a girl who cant make up her mind.

  120. Davidon 29 Jul 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Betty Ross from the incredibel Hulk the anamited series

    for ones she two faced manipulateing the Hulk who clearly loves her to do whatever she askes also pretending to be his friend while still trying to find a cure

    she says cure i say murder anyone else aggrie?

  121. mrs marvelon 29 Jul 2009 at 5:43 pm

    She knows Bruce Banner (whos she loves) is still in there. And Bruce WANTS to get rid of the Hulk so she would try to kill bruce in order to get rid of the hulk. Besides the Hulk could crush her if he thought she wanted to hurt him. Check out “Married” From the original hulk (old school I know). P.s Harley Quinn can take down MJ and Betty compined!

  122. *i88*on 29 Jul 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Some of these female relationship these days are really starting to scare me for real. I mean, Twilight is an obvious example that Bella “Blank Slate” Swan found love at first sight in the middle of now where. Mary Jane “What-son?” is just a pretty face, and I can go on for decades. Good luck to those awesome writers out there, anywhere, because in these times, apparently people settle for relationships like this. I can’t say I’m not doing the same in my book though, but I kind of take it to a comedic perspective.

  123. PaintedSainton 14 Nov 2009 at 10:30 am

    Hm, speaking from a female viewpoint, I generally dislike the faux-feminist female characters that insist ‘real women don’t wear dresses’. Wearing dresses, doing menial household chores, or having an interest in marriage, does not make a female character weak nor useless. Drawing observation from a Taylor Swift song(I don’t listent o her often, but this struck me as strange), I never understood how anyone could possibly conclude that a girl wearing high heels and short shorts must be intellectually inferior to a girl wearing sneakers and tees. Petty excuses to lead to the conclusion feminine=weak.

    Neither of the two extremes of faux-feminism to the ultra-helpless damsel in distress is appealing to any readers of both genders, but it’s true that some people are inclined to believe that these extremes may very well define ‘a real woman’.

  124. PaintedSainton 14 Nov 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Wimpy male characters also annoy me. Especially if they make vows to become stronger, and conveniently proceed to hide behind stronger characters for the next 30 chapters with no sign of improvement at all. To me, that is frustrating.

    I don’t mind female characters that choose to cheer at the sidelines, but if they are meant to be an action character (warrior, ninja, etc.) and are forced into the same position…that’s one of the worst things to do to a female character. Considering they are designated to be capable of defending themselves, they shouldn’t be agreeing into becoming a burden to the action character(s). Pre-timeskip Sakura Haruno comes to mind…

  125. B. Macon 14 Nov 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I’ve never listened to the song in question, but my best guess is that the singer is just trying to show that she’s a better fit for the guy than the cheerleader is. Ahem, the name of the song is “You Belong With Me.” I don’t think she’s drawing conclusions about the quality of stereotypically feminine women that (like cheerleaders that wear short skirts)–just that they wouldn’t make a good fit for this guy.

    Then again, that’s just my take…

  126. Gwenon 30 Nov 2009 at 10:03 am

    I hate it when a badass female character is essentially a man with breasts and a uterus. Kara Thrace is a good example. I like that character but she annoys me to no end for that reason. That character would make more sense to me as a gay man than as a biological woman. Molly Millions is a great example of how to do it right.

    I have two huge issues with the Man with a Uterus.

    My first peeve with that character is when the author assumes everybody will be okay to just pretend she has the physical strength of a man. She fights like a man. She can knock somebody out with one punch. That is not impressive, it’s just ridiculous and unbelievable. It’s more impressive if she looked honestly at her strengths and weaknesses and tailored her fighting style to minimize one and capitalize on the other. A badass woman will fight more like Bruce Lee than Hulk Hogan. She’s going to trade on speed and coordination, not brute strength.

    Second, badass woman is not going to pretend that she doesn’t have feelings. Molly Millions is such a great example for this. She periodically gives Henry Case a quick, efficient status report on how she feels about him and their relationship. That rang so true to me. We are not like men. We talk about our feelings because we have to. If we don’t take it out and put it on the table, it will just sit in our heads getting more distracting by the second. Think of it as like sexual release for a man. If you don’t do something about it, it gets more difficult to get anything else done. You have to clear out the tubes once in a while, just for efficacy’s sake. It’s the same for us, only it’s feelings instead of semen.

  127. B. Macon 30 Nov 2009 at 12:22 pm

    On a completely awkward tangent, I’d like to refer you to the Seinfeld episode “The Abstinence.” It’s pretty funny.

    On a less awkward tangent, I think that Bones places its female lead in an unusual role: the cold-but-likable Spock archetype. Surprisingly, she’s an anthropologist, so she really gets cultures and relationships, but in a mechanical way.

  128. Lighting Manon 30 Nov 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I’m going to pretend that Gwen was talking about Godzilla’s recurring urinary tract infections since the rise in sea-borne piracy and just forgot to add an “A” to her last word.

    It’s not that much better, but it is a little bit better in my opinion, but it also raises several questions, and I don’t like those questions.

  129. PaintedSainton 30 Nov 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Isn’t it strange that even feminists don’t believe that feminity is masculinity’s equal? A woman, fictional or real, can wear dresses and cook for her husband, but she considered ‘weak’ and not what a ‘real woman’ could do. That sort of mentality is utterly disgusting, but that is what some feminists believe, a woman is not strong unless if she abandons feminity.

    Keira Knightley would be an example: how is a possibly underweight woman able to fend off heavyweight men by brute strength alone?

  130. defon 24 Mar 2010 at 5:47 am

    kara “starbuck” thrace (if you were talking battlestar galactica) was a man in the original series, but having lee sleep with a man for a large part of the series would have been akward

  131. defon 24 Mar 2010 at 5:52 am

    “You belong with me” by taylor swift wasnt meant to imply that she was superior to the other girl because she was less femine, she was implying that she was not as cool, but she knew the guy better so they were a better match

  132. YonTroperon 05 Apr 2010 at 9:52 pm

    We’re all bashing Bella here, for good reason. But let me introduce you, my friends, to *MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR BREAKING DAWN ALERT* Bella’s baby, Renesmee.

    Anyway, Renesmee ages super fast, and she has all of Edward’s BEAUTY AND SPARKLYPANTS PERFECTNESS. Oh, and Jacob imprints on her, which basically means that he’s destined to mate with her. The problem with the aging is that Bella is not really a mother – all Renesmee is is a toy for Bella. Teaching her to read? She’s reading in a week. Changing nappies? She’s potty trained. Baby temper tantrums? Renesmee’s smarter than any adult. Having to deal with boys? Imprinting. Bella’s never going to have to go through the hardships of being a mother and bond with her baby by doing so – Renesmee can just go off with Jacob and be HAPPY AND SPARKLY AND PERFECT, while she and Edward can also be HAPPY AND SPARKLY AND PERFECT. In effect, all of this is actually making Bella worse.

    Oh, and she has a stupid name.

  133. roseaponion 06 Apr 2010 at 9:51 am

    😀 I totally agree here, YonTroper. Once the danger of vampires wanting to kill her outright is averted, there is nothing left for Renesmee to achieve. She’s gonna be such a ridiculously spoiled brat all her ridiculously long and sparkly life.

    (Though, I do rather like that her nickname is “Nessie.” The author was realistic in that much – give a baby a goofy name, get a goofy nickname 😉 )

  134. Beccaon 06 Apr 2010 at 10:44 am

    Renesmee’s name makes me want to tear my own head off.

  135. Wingson 05 Jul 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Dear God, Renesmee. Sue-spawn through and through.

    “She’s gonna be such a ridiculously spoiled brat all her ridiculously long and sparkly life.”

    Actually, outside of Meyer’s perfect Twilight world, being Renesmee would pretty much suck. See the fanfiction “The Paper Doll Kindergarten” for a rather accurate, if extremely dark, interpretation.

    – Wings

  136. Hopefulon 22 Sep 2010 at 3:24 pm

    My least favorite female type in reality as well in fiction are the defensive slutty ones. The ones whom if you criticize end up exploding in rage of fairness and “ you can’t judge me’ sentences. I have the displeasure of knowing two groups of said type

    If it sounds like I’m complaining, it’s because I am. I have nowhere else to do so.

  137. Contra Gloveon 22 Sep 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Hopeful, if you want to write good female characters, you’d be best served by these two Limyaael rants:

    Female Protagonists Who Do Not Suck
    Feminist fantasy rant

  138. Guardian7on 23 Sep 2010 at 2:22 am

    Well I will take this from a Comic Book Stance.

    When I finally was able to get all of the Fantastic Four Essentials (From Marvel Comics). I was really distressed at how often Sue (Invisible Girl/Woman) was such a pathetic victim. She pretty much remained that way for a VERY long time. I am not saying she didn’t make her stands (usually of the emotional kind… Over Franklin, Reed or Johnny)… but to watch her be so helpless so often just wasn’t cool at all.

    Then when they finally realized how powerful she was (primarily when John Byrne first took over the series)… it got a bit out of hand. She goes from powerful enough… to I could put a force bubble in you and crack you in half…. TOTALLY out of character (Which I do believe plays an important role).

    So Sue was awful as a “Help me!” Girl and as a “Oh no you didn’t!” Girl.

    Now Ms Marvel on the other hand… ROCKED!
    Yeah she came off like a rather Hard Core femineist at first… but once her personality (and especially after the costume change) was fleshed out. She became super cool. Confident, witty and tough!
    I was NOT happy with the Go with the Timelord (Mind controlled) story that happened to her (Avengers v1 #200)… But she came back (Avengers Annual v1 #11) … had her ass kicked by Rogue (I hate her so much… rrgh!) and was essentially raped of her life and her powers… but the ending of said story, she lets the Avengers have it for dropping the ball. Yeah… emotional basketcase in a way. But frankly it was done so tastefully I couldn’t see it as anything more than the tragedy it was.

    THEN… she turns around… and with NO powers takes on the Brood (from X-Men)… becomes Binary (and then becomes tragic… especially the drinking thing in the v2 Avengers… sorry… tired of people having drinking or drug problems… I mean… hadn’t she been through enough?).

    ANYHOW… I think that is two great examples of Good and bad characters… even when each one has had their own periods of being awful and good!

    Marvel Girl/Phoenix and Storm of the X-Men were well done female characters too!.

    Wonder Woman is usually a decent character.

    Supergirl’s first stand out was either her appearances in the Legion of Super Heroes or in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7

    Batgirl always had potential…

    Wonder Girl was a damn fine character too… until she became Kyle (Green Lantern) Rayner’s super heroine trophy. Then it just gets miserably tragic for her from there on out. victim victim victim.

    I could go on and on with some of these characters…

    But the best of the best is still Early Carol (Ms Marvel) Danvers through all her trials, up and until Avengers vol 2.


  139. B. Macon 23 Sep 2010 at 3:00 am

    Anybody that says something like “You can’t judge me!” without trying to mock himself or create absurd comedy needs to get his head checked. 😉

  140. Ragged Boyon 23 Sep 2010 at 11:41 am

    On the DC side, just yesterday I was reading some Doom Patrol. Elasiti-Woman/Rita Farr spent about half of her time brooding about how she can’t stand men judging her and flipping out about her ex-lover still having control over her mind or flipping out that the attention wasn’t on her. When she switched to her maternal side I liked her; She is often the standing human in the group whereas Robotman and Negative Man have left their humanity behind. 1 to 5 on good female character chart. I give her a solid 3.75. She’s great when she’s not an emotional wreck.

  141. Madaliason 07 Oct 2010 at 11:06 am

    I realize that I’m repeating some of what’s been said above, but this would be my list.

    #1. Females characters that exist less as characters and more as objects for the male character to achieve. This would include damsels in distress or love interests who have no goals or personality traits of their own. (Being lovely/lovable doesn’t count as a personality trait.)

    #2. Female characters that are only in the plot to fulfill a role and who do only the stereotypical functions of that role. An example might be the mother/grandmother/healer character who only exists to feed the protagonist and bind his wounds, but who has no agenda or personality of her own other than being motherly. Another example might be the shallow, bitchy, stupid or whorish girl who is only there to make your female character look good in comparison. I think you can get away with having a stereotypically functioning female character if you do something to give the character depth beyond the stereotype or if you turn the stereotype on it’s head. For instance the mother character in Burn Notice is a good example of making the mother role a character in it’s own right. Yes, she’s always available to feed and shelter the protagonist but she also has her own agenda, wants and interests, bitches the protagonist out as often as she nurtures him, and has skills of her own outside of the mother role. (The scene when she interrogated a prisoner was first rate.) And as was said above, the Cordelia character had more to her than just being the bitchy cheerleader foil to Buffy.

    #3. Female characters who are totally subservient to the needs and wants of the male characters. This is particularly maddening when they are supposed to be strong independent women before coming under the influence of the protagonist. A particularly perverted subset of this character type is the independent woman who realizes that she feels happier and more feminine when being dominated. (The sound you hear is me screaming.)

    #4. The “Empowered” female character who spends the majority of the work preaching about how empowered she is and bitching about male dominated society. Surprisingly while preaching/demonstrating female equality/superiority all the other characters stand around speechless with awe. The villains in these works are all misogynist (and probably rapists as well). The male protagonists may start out as being chauvinist but they quickly realize their error and begin preaching about the superiority of goddess worship, matrilineal societies and non-gender specific job roles. Oh please. If only men were that easy.

    #5. Passive Helpless Females — I think enough has already been said above.

    #6. Super-powered females who have no reason to be super powered. I think sometimes to combat the stereotype of unrealistically passive females, authors will make all their female characters supercharged. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good Buffy Summers, Zoe Washburne or River Tam, but in all those examples the females in question have a reason for being supercharged. (Buffy is the Slayer, Zoe is a trained soldier, and River is a scientifically altered killing machine) These characters work in part because they have been given justification for their powers and in part because Josh Whedon also shows the contrast of what regular untrained females (and males) are like in his world. It would be irritating if all the females in a fictional world could fight just as well as the male characters at the drop of the hat without any consideration given to natural upper body strength, aggression or training. (For that matter it’s pretty irritating when all the male characters just naturally know how to deliver a well-placed punch. My experience is that while the average male tends to be stronger and more aggressive than the average female, he’s still pretty pathetic when a fight breaks out unexpectedly. I’d expect a fair bit of shoving and grappling before anyone lands a blow.)

    To sum up I think a good female character will have the characteristics of characters of either gender. She’ll have personality traits, both good and bad. She’ll have interests and opinions of her own that exist independently of the male protagonists interests and opinions. She’ll have goals of her own that exist independently of the male protagonist’s goals. She will serve a purpose other than to fulfill the writer’s fantasies about women. She will be competent, but her competencies will not be either all stereotypically female roles or all stereotypically male roles (She’ll be as well rounded as a real person, in other words). She will be proactive in situations when anyone would be proactive (When attacked she will try to defend herself, when kidnapped she will try to escape). However, she will be no more powerful than any character would have a right to be given her natural abilities, training, or resources available.

  142. Matthew Laneon 04 Nov 2010 at 9:14 am

    Any female character written by a hack writer, who got published only on the power of his character having boobs. Easy way to figure if the book you are looking to purchase is going to have this kind of character is this: If it falls into the supernatural romance/investigation sub genre & the front cover has a picture of a tall women, with long jet black hair, possibly wearing something i would call “casual slutty,” possibly while holding a medieval weapon, or ornate magical flower symbol tatoo/pendent or showcasing some glowing magic power.

    These novels for some reason all have names like eternity, sigil academy, or something else incredibly cliched.

  143. B. Macon 04 Nov 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Hmm, perhaps this means I should rewrite Blahnita Blake.

    Yes, I agree completely that a “hawt” body is not a substitute for giving the protagonist personality. (I’m looking at you, Twilight!)

    In most cases, novelists aren’t responsible for their covers. The author is sometimes consulted, but all the decisions are made by the publisher.
    I think the conventional wisdom among sales and marketing professionals in the industry is that characters–particularly hawt characters!–tend to sell the best on covers. I BLAME YOU, FABIO.

    Also, I think the marketing people sometimes either aren’t familiar with the product or just don’t care. For example, the novel Liar is about a black protagonist whose race is really important to the plot, but the publisher printed the book with a white girl on the cover. This particularly disrupted the reading experience because the character is frequently dishonest, so readers might think she’s lying when she says she’s black even though the story itself never suggests she isn’t.

  144. ekimmakon 04 Nov 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Wow. Seeing all this makes me worry about my female characters.

    And glad that I rewrote my novel when I did. Otherwise this would be a direct attack on my writing.

  145. Lighting Manon 04 Nov 2010 at 10:37 pm

    A personality is that one thing that you mention after you describe their smooth rock hard skin and tight abs that sparkle like both sets of cheeks on a weekday stripper, right?….Right?

    I’m beginning to think publishers took that whole “not judging a book by the cover” idiom to mean that they should just put random stuff on there and hope for the best. One of the best vampire novels I’ve ever read was Dead on my Feet, and I don’t remember a single moment in which the protagonist was chased down the street by a Marilyn Monroe-faced street lamp.

  146. B. Macon 04 Nov 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Not a “direct attack on [your] writing!” I’d prefer to think of it as a detailed set of suggestions about female characters in general. 🙂

  147. ekimmakon 04 Nov 2010 at 11:53 pm

    What I was saying was my first try at my superhero novel would have had very shallow female characters. A virus crashed my computer, and so I decided to give up on that one and try it again with similar characters, but different plot. The female characters I have now are much better.

    I’m just still a bit worried about them.

  148. Malloryon 01 Jan 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I’m writing a novel, or it might end up being a comic book if I can learn to draw people, and a female is the main character(mainly cuz I’m sick of only males) is Macy a good idea?

    Name: Macy
    Superhero name: Dark Shadow
    Super nickname: Dark
    Age: 13
    Hair: brunette
    Eyes: brown
    Height: 5 ft 2″
    Macy has two primary powers; dark energy and sorta an hard to decribe this power but I’ll say what it can do.
    Dark Manipulation: Self explanitory

    Other power: Turn body into liquid, elastic body, she can arrange her body parts, mutate herself, she can aborb color and change it, she can shift her weight. by that I mean she can become light enough to stand in the air or even lift herself with one finger, she can regenerate, she can go inside of solid objects like the ground or a wall and flies inside with her wings

    Invisible air: She can turn the air surrounding her invisible. Macy must be careful though not to fly to fast and go out of the invisible air plus it’s difficult to attack while inside of it

    Flight: Macy can fly/glide with these tendrils coming from her back instead of wings. At the end of the tentrils are some kind of………..gosh ard to describe but it’s webbed to glide through the air I guess……….

    Tail: Macy has a long and thick tail that is about as tall has her. Her tail moves and is like an extra hand. Her tail is used for tripping foes, and pulling them a couple feet into the ground. Easy win on weak villains? Macy’s tail is what balances her while she flies. If she loses her tail or wings and must get them back since those can’t be regenerated, story idea?

    Costume: Black leggings and black long sleeve top. Black tail and wings. Black mask. Actually black everything since Macy can disapear into the shadows.

    I think that’s all about Macy~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  149. B. Macon 01 Jan 2011 at 5:28 pm

    She seems to have a lot of sort of random side powers. I can see how her shadow manipulation power explains how she can go shadowy/weightless and provide for some regeneration power. Plus, I can see how she uses shadows to build wings and a tail for herself. I’m not quite seeing some of the other things, though… (Turning liquid?)

    I would recommend swapping out “invisible air” for something like the ability to blend into shadows. (It’s a bit more coherent with the shadow theme).

    Macy has a tail. She’s human, right? In a comic book, it could be a bit tricky to give a human protagonist a tail without it looking strange. What sort of visual style were you thinking on those?

    The character doesn’t look extremely powerful, but regeneration and invisibility would probably make it pretty hard for regular mooks to challenge her. I think weakish supervillains could challenge her. (For one thing, I imagine some of her powers wouldn’t work very well if bright lights were on, so there are some pretty simple ways to surprise her).

    Besides the potential issue of the hero looking strange, I think the tail will give you interesting visual opportunities during combat.

    Macy is an unexpectedly cheerful-sounding name for a shadow-themed character. Fresh!

    “Dark Shadow”–> I would recommend swapping out “Dark” for an adjective that says more. Shadows are already dark, so it’s a bit redundant.

    Some questions about things besides superpowers:

    What’s her personality like? What’s her main goal?

    She seems unusually young to be a superhero. What led her to make that decision? Is she a student by day?

    I think “Shadow” would make a more natural nickname than “Dark.”

  150. Malloryon 01 Jan 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks for help. You have a good point. I’ll take out the liquid, elastic, part arranger, mutating, color abosorb and invisible air. Blending into shadows would work better.

    For the wings and tail, they will come out of Macy when she is about to fight. She does go to school, so that would be like her day job. The tail would be moving like a cat tail almost. It would be able to pick things up and perfect for fights, like tripping foes or knocking them over. Since she can go through solid objects, Macy can also drag foes into them to, except the foes won’t be able to move like she can. 😉

    One thing that Macy is has trouble seeing in is bright light.
    Her weakness by the way is emeralds. Yeah I daydreamed about her weakness being green at first but I didn’t know what the green thing was. Emeralds will attach onto her and her tail and wings will go back into her body. Macy will lose her powers until the emerald gets off of her.
    About the superhero name; Would any of these work with Shadow as the nickname?
    Vast Shadow
    Hidden Shadow
    Silent Shadow
    Swift Shadow

    Macy does have some of my personality give or take some characteristics. I’ve actually daydreamed about being a superhero. Similar to Macy. Not in the Mary Sue way. But hair and eye colors stayed the same. Age stayed the same. The personality and flaws were changed.

    Macy is stubborn and has a sharp tongue. She’s sorta reckless when under presure. Macy is determined to do the right thing and she’s reliable. She is about revenge and enjoys taunting foes……………unless they are stronger then Macy and are trying to kill her. Because of her shadow powers, she is silent when she walks, runs, or jumps.
    Macy’s main goal is to defeat the leader of villains. Her name is Hecate. Hecate can summon demons from the underworld and never fights fair. Macy will team up with a friend that she made named Luana. Luana’s family was killed by Hecate and I still haven’t decided if Macy’s family will die the same way.
    Macy is half-demon. When she gets really mad, her eyes will turn red and she will have fangs for teeth. Her demon side is violent, destructive, and stronger. So after Hecate is defeated, the demon will leave Macy and there’s a new foe. An even deadlyer one.
    Luana is a psychic with long pink moving hair which is the source of her powers. I did read about psychic problems, but for Luana, anything that she picks up with her powers will glow pink. Other then that she can heal wounds and fly by floating.
    Macy is lead to fight Hecate and later her demon from Hecate’s plan. Hecate is finding heroes and giving them a choice. Join the villains or die. Luana refused. Macy will refuse. Macy is a student by day with an enemy at school. Nancy and everyone who is in Nancy’s group.

    I’m going to try and learn to draw so I can illistrate my book or comic book. I don’t want to take a chance on the cover and having the picture be wrong. I see that on books often which really annoys me. I’m on chapter 7 so far.

  151. HiddenTigeron 21 Feb 2011 at 11:52 pm

    How do you balance out dependence and independence? How do you keep your female character from leaning into a bimbo or Warrior!Sue?

  152. Castilleon 01 Mar 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Thanks B.Mac! I got your critique, and can answer a few points right away.

    (Since this Thread discusses female characters, I thought this would be the place to put it)

    ….First of all my outline does call for Amber to experience a heel face turn…but not right away. You’d notice that I included the line ‘she almost believed it too’, right after she swears to be good. I realize that those types of things take longer, and its supposed to take over half the novel before it happens. There’s also a bit of complicated stuff, which is not to spoil my final chapters, but I think the pivotal moment will ‘speak for itself’.

    …I can’t give everything away, but as was implied two chapters ago, and in the first chapter… Amber has committed murder/cannibalism before. (Werewolves are conscious when they transform)

    It takes a lot for a person like that to change, but I’m definitely not using the cliched
    methods so often found in most works.

    I think I answered why Reyes was so upset at Amber. In the last chapter I mentioned how Reyes thought she could be reformed, against his better judgement. He’s been pretty much ignoring her manipulative behavior, telling himself that she’s not as bad as he knows she is.

    That’s why he felt her assault on his brother was just the final slap in the face.

    ….Another thing I can definitely promise… is what everyone’s been waiting for:

    Next chapter will be written from Mendoza’s POV!

    *Trust me, Mendoza is completely his own character.*

  153. Alex.on 01 Jun 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Im writing about a young female character named Christina Diaz, she is from a spainsh family and has the ability to teleport and transform certain objects into a crystal form. She was rebellious at school, as she was not intellectual but was a very good dancer, shes confident with her looks and body but I want her to still remain mysterious. Also she needs to have a job which includes her flaunting her body in some way, as this is where she meets two of the other main characters Ryo and Henry.
    So does that sound ok? just need some feedback as she is the only character in the story who actually has a super power.
    Im also having a problem with how to introduce her? 😀

  154. Androgynous entity of nondestinct politicson 11 Jul 2011 at 11:52 pm

    ^ That name is so you won’t get bogged down in whether I’m female or male, feminist or not.

    I was going to name types and cliches, but really, it all depends on what the story needs, what type of story it is. A well-written character has what the story needs, and a badly written character does not. As that’s a little vague, I’ll try to elaborate, but I’m not sure that I can do so and make it universal. But where there are exceptions, I’ll try to name them.

    I would say the rule of thumb is not to make the character seem special just for being female. Don’t make her better or worse developed than other characters because of her femaleness. Don’t make her more or less competent because of her femaleness. And don’t you dare make her the only female important to the story. (EXCEPTION: A world or species in which one gender is much less common than the other for an explained reason, such as a species based on ants or bees)

    That’s not to say you can’t make the character different from male characters because of her femaleness. Fighters are a good example. Given equivalent training, a woman will be less physically strong and more physically flexible than a man. This makes for interesting differences in fighting style, if you have a cast of male and female characters with equivalent training. Similarly, men and women think differently, on average. A female engineer may be the one of two women in her class, and feel challenged in having to fit in with the guys, or make friends with a girl she has very little in common with.

    But show diversity. Usually, there is more variation within sexes than between them. Do not cast all your female characters from the same mold, and vice versa for the males. Men and women are different on average, but averages aren’t absolutes.

    Useless characters bug me as much as…as… (struggles to come up with a metaphor) as they bug other people, ’nuff said. That doesn’t mean I have a problem with physically weak female characters, with nonviolent female characters, with damsels in distress, or even with submissive female characters. But none of those things should equate to uselessness. A damsel in distress can be written well, too.

    Also (done to death as well) men in dresses. Not actual crossdressers, that’d be interesting to see. But female characters who are just like male ones. There are two types of this:

    1. A female character who is literally a distaff counterpart. These characters are superfluous, and usually just cheap knockoffs of the original. Female characters must be characters in their own right.

    2. A female character who is an over the top masculine stereotype, where no justification is given. I’m fine with masculine female characters when there is a justification for why they are masculine (and no, she’s a lesbian is not a justification, it’s an even worse stereotype). Maybe they were raised by a single dad. Maybe they are bigendered/agendered/androgynes. Maybe they dislike their own femininity, consider it weak, and repress it. And maybe they are just tomboys, but if that is so, don’t write every competent female character as a big tomboy, and do give them other traits besides tomboy.

    Also hated: Beauty Is Never Tarnished (it’s a trope, look it up). A waifish female character can still be plenty useful. She can be agile, intelligent, ruthless, or persistent. But DO NOT make her the physically strongest character in the story, unless there is some sort of magic going on. And while we’re at it, don’t let strong women get out of battle without (PHYSICAL) battle scars. Male characters have them, so why can’t females? Thirdly, in most media, ugly/fat female characters either don’t exist, or are treated in an unsympathetic manner. Try to do better.

    But all of these have some exceptions, and none of them are my biggest pet peeve. My one, my only, my BIGGEST PET PEEVE is villainous female characters who get treated as heroic because they’re female. As for the type I mean, I mean the manhater who is shown to be strong, witty, and justified where a misogynist character would be considered unjustifiable. Or the female character who kicks her boyfriend in the groin and no one considers it abusive. The female villain who is treated as “just misguided/misunderstood” and is spared or reforms so that she doesn’t have to be killed where all the male villains are. The verbally abusive, henpecking wife situation where the characters have the audacity to condemn the husband for being a victim, rather than the wife for being an abuser. STOP IT! It’s okay to show villainous female characters, and it’s okay to give them their comeuppance like you do with male characters. In fact, it is your duty to do so. Not doing so is sexist against men, which is just as bad and perhaps more prevalent than sexism against women.

  155. Jaybieon 13 Jul 2011 at 6:05 pm

    [But all of these have some exceptions, and none of them are my biggest pet peeve. My one, my only, my BIGGEST PET PEEVE is villainous female characters who get treated as heroic because they’re female. As for the type I mean, I mean the manhater who is shown to be strong, witty, and justified where a misogynist character would be considered unjustifiable. Or the female character who kicks her boyfriend in the groin and no one considers it abusive. The female villain who is treated as “just misguided/misunderstood” and is spared or reforms so that she doesn’t have to be killed where all the male villains are. The verbally abusive, henpecking wife situation where the characters have the audacity to condemn the husband for being a victim, rather than the wife for being an abuser. STOP IT! It’s okay to show villainous female characters, and it’s okay to give them their comeuppance like you do with male characters. In fact, it is your duty to do so. Not doing so is sexist against men, which is just as bad and perhaps more prevalent than sexism against women.]

    OH MY WORD THIS. Totally this. That is also my big pet peeve more than anything. It’s why I hate Groin Attack Humor so much. Just augh…..

    In my opinion I like characters who are just….female. It’s not a big deal, they’re not better or worse than anyone else they just are. I hate how people think there are female traits and male traits. No. there are female and male PEOPLE.

    I don’t buy this garbage about how female characters need to always be role models. Let me tell you something. Reading about an enforced “role model” is about as interesting as watching paint dry. I want to read about CHARACTERS . Characters who aren’t created to pound a message into your head or be who i’m supposed to be but characters who tell a story.

    Also no double standards please. No moments where one gender does something and its wrong while another gender does something and its okay. I hate those. Being a certain gender should not change whether something is morally right or not. Because gender has nothing to do with it. If it’s wrong for females its wrong for males and if it’s wrong for males its wrong for females.

    I hate female characters that come along and treat all males like dirt or just act like jerks to anyone as a show of “Girl power” . Eugh no. We have a word for that on TV Tropes. Jerk Sues. That is not “Girl Power” . In my opinion ‘Empowerment’ of one gender should not equal ‘hating the other gender or finding them inferior. How would you feel if a man said that treating women like they’re weak and or hysterical/dumb was ‘male empowerment? It’s the same thing. A female kicking people around and treating others like crap isn’t cool It’s freaking annoying.

  156. B. Macon 13 Jul 2011 at 6:40 pm

    “How would you feel if a man said that treating women like they’re weak and or hysterical/dumb was ‘male empowerment?” I’m glaring at you, Garth Ennis.

    “I don’t buy this garbage about how female characters need to always be role models. Let me tell you something. Reading about an enforced ‘role model’ is about as interesting as watching paint dry. I want to read about CHARACTERS . Characters who aren’t created to pound a message into your head or be who i’m supposed to be but characters who tell a story.” Amen. I sort of picked up on that double-standard from reviews of Bad Teachers. Cameron Diaz’s character is a pretty awful person (a la George Constanza from Seinfeld or pretty much every guy on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), but I think reviewers came down harder on her character than comparable male characters.*

    *Also, it probably didn’t help that the writing wasn’t very funny. I think viewers give the writers more latitude when the writing is entertaining.

  157. IAmNotLefthandedon 27 Dec 2011 at 4:06 am

    There is one character I can think of off the top of my head that is very fashion conscious and still manages to make it work: China Sorrows, the aloof, cold, high class Information Broker from Skulduggery Pleasant who still manages to be awesome despite her focus on clothes.
    Quote from the book:
    “This necklace has cost two
    very fine men their lives. At times, I
    wear it in tribute to their sacrifice.
    Other times, I wear it because it
    goes with this skirt.”

  158. Bad-Peopleon 06 Mar 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I have seen quite a few overly passive female characters. I don’t mean damsel in distress passive, I mean aggressive, on the verge of violently passive. With “You can’t go off to save the world, you might get hurt!” type scenes and dialogue that don’t really make sense. An example being the romantic interest in Bloodsport who actually tries to get the police to keep Van Dame from fighting in the martial arts tournament he trained literally his entire life for because she doesn’t understand that his personal honor and the honor of his teacher might be more important to him than his own physical wellbeing. Even if she doesn’t feel the same way he does she can attempt to understand, or at the very least understand he’s a big boy and can make his own decisions. I’ve seen this irritating combination of stubborn/passive too many times, predominantly in female characters.

  159. B. McKenzieon 06 Mar 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Carol Ferris to Green Lantern, as GL goes off to face Parallax: “HE WILL KILL YOU.”

    –They’re both test pilots, so this skittishness is probably implausible for her.

    –Parallax is going to destroy the world, so it’s not like there are any safe alternatives to fighting him.

    –Blake Lively is a horrible actress. The line sounded like “He will KEEEE-ll you.”

    Her writing was not PURELY awful, but if I had to pick the three worst moments of GL, “He will KEEEE-ll you” would probably be up there, along with a CGI racecar track and every scene with Hector Hammond.

  160. Nightwireon 12 Mar 2012 at 8:06 am

    I know I am a bit late to the conversation, but I’d like to throw in my two cents:

    If we talk about awesome female characters, no one does it better than Sir Terry Pratchett. I love all of his female characters, but my utmost favorite has to be the Witches of Lancre:



    There’s also:

    -Magrat: the traditional girly girl, which makes her a brilliant foil for Granny and Nanny, two crotchety old women. She is often called a “wet hen”, because of her naive. She is the least formidable of the trio, but when pushed too far, she can kick serious ass.

    -Agnes Nitt: Magrat’s replacement. A plump girl who is sick of folks assuring that she has “a great personality and lovely hair”. All that frustration with her life led Agnes to develop a second personality, Perdita X Dream (X stands for “person who has a cool and mysterious middle name). Perdita is Agnes’s interpretion of what a “cool” person is like. While Agnes is gentle and considerate, Perdita is a snarky jerk who always belittles her for being so nice. This makes for some great character moments.

    And that’s why Terry Pratchett is my hero.

  161. Nightwireon 12 Mar 2012 at 8:23 am

    Here’s some analysis on Terry Pratchett’s female characters (not written by me, cause I’m a lazy bum XD):



  162. Ribkeon 13 Oct 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Whiney girls; I HATE whiney girls. And girls that just cannot stand for themselves and let everyone else make important decicions for her; especially if a) said important decisions are things that should only concern HER and nobody else (like stuff concerning her own body and that); and b) if it’s even HINTED that this is completely justified if the idiot speaking for her is sexy (I guess that pretty much would say why I hate Twilight so much).

    Ok, maybe I can stand insecure girls if there’s a real good reason for them to be that way (like having extremely controlling and intruding parents, etc.), and if that has anything to do with the story’s main problematic and is eventually solved, or controlled in some way. But girls who suddenly can’t even think for themselves because hot guy is there: I really, REALLY wish I could beat them with a bat.

  163. Sakitaon 20 Nov 2012 at 2:30 pm

    To be honest, i hate the weak women in a comic, who leaves everything to the male hero to fix everything, and can’t seem to do anything usefull themselves.
    I also hate the happy-go-lucky kind of girls, who act like ten year old crybabies (i do like it when something very bads happens to them).
    I like strong women, who can handle themselves and will stand up for what they believe in. I hate woman who are to girlish, but I believe even a tomboy should have some girlish traits.
    Women who talk about feelings and who are concerned for others are my favorite. A girl shoudn’t be afraid to show her emotions, as long as you don’t overdo it.
    A good women is for me a girl with boyisch traits. But that’s my personal opinion.

  164. J Harrisonon 22 Nov 2012 at 4:46 am

    For my superhero novel, I’ve tried to create four superheroines that are all strong in very different ways.

    The first is Grim, a physically tough girl who has grown up on an estate looking after her mum. She’s got anger issues and is a decent kickboxer. When she gains her powers, she uses them to protect the vulnerable in her territory.

    The second is Solar Soldier, who is a former Royal Marine. She is a sort of modern version of the classical warrior, brave and unrelenting. Her powers are literally the greatest on the planet.

    The third is Medicine, a young woman who was experimented on and gained her powers as a result. She is a survivor, apparently weak and frail but hiding incredible inner strength.

    The fourth is Blue Eyes, a paraplegic superhero and probably the most typically feminine. She is a sister figure to a lot of the superheroes on the team and supports her team-mates from behind the scenes.

    There is a difference between flawed characters and bad characters. Everyone needs some sort of strength or they cease being a person at all, and in superhero stories it’s especially important, as these are meant to be power fantasies.

  165. Derp Writeron 23 Nov 2012 at 12:23 am

    Personally I liked both Jane Roland and Catherine Harcourt from the Temeraire series. Both are rather well developed females, in my opinion. Neither is overly feminine, but both display subtle signs that show that they weren’t written as though they might as well be men (of course it probably helps that the author is a woman, too).

    Does anyone else feel the same?

  166. Wishon 03 Jan 2013 at 11:04 am

    I fall into the category of hating females who act helpless/go all damsel-in-distress. It just makes me want to stop wherever I am and leave the book/movie where it is. Also, a girl who won’t do anything from sheer laziness and or ‘Oh my gosh, what if I, like, break a nail?’ or some such? It takes a lot of background or reasoning for me to have any support for that character.

    One particularly amazing female character I once read about is Fire from Kristin Cashore’s book that happens to be named after the very same female character. She felt strong and real all at once, never to overpowered or undermined. Her actions all had logical reasons, or at least didn’t seem willy nilly, and I felt like I really knew her by the end of the book. Plus, she rode out on horseback in the middle of a giant raptor storm just to keep the birds from attacking the army and was injured in the process. Not one member of the army died. It was pretty awesome.

    Mean Girls definitely had some dimensions to it; while I have never met people like that, they still felt a bit real. Their extreme behavior was balanced enough to keep me from wondering whether or not it was Barbie’s vs. Nerds and Goths. It definitely had some good development and insight to the characters.

  167. Innocent Bystanderon 24 Feb 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Female traits I think are awful: stupidity, shallowness, overly-dependent, extreme feminist, whiny, shrill, pure, only goal is to get married (unless it’s somehow crucial to the plot, like a royal/noble trying to marry someone to improve relations between their kingdoms, increase their status/wealth, ect.) and “guy with boobs and vagina.”

    Female traits I think are awesome: intelligent, perceptive, has a goal and sticks to it, some kind of strength (doesn’t have to be physical; a gal who’s mentally or socially strong works well, too), has a believable flaw, is sexy and fully aware of it (not so much that she comes off as slutty, but has confidence in her appearance and isn’t afraid to use it), and a good sense of humor.

    For a female character from Twilight that DOESN’T suck, I present Leah Clearwater. She had horrible things happen to her, but doesn’t angst about it unless someone reopens an old wound (like the pack constantly getting on her about Sam), calls out characters for their BS, and refuses to let the BS everyone dumps on her to get her down. I think Meyer tried to make her detestable, but in the process she only got more awesome. And for her awesome-ness realized, I highly recommend the Supernatural/Twilight crossover “The Wedding Crashers.” (Also has Awesome!Claire)

    Also, just a thought on female comic book characters, I should point out that they undergo changes based on who’s writing them. For example, Mary Jane from Spider Man.

    I’m only familiar with four versions of her character: the Ultimate comics where she’s also a nerd (which I was “meh” about; not horrible, but not interesting), Spectacular Spiderman (which I liked; very perceptive and intelligent, as well as confident), Jim Butcher’s “The Darkest Hour” (which I loved; she was made of awesome in that novel), and the Raimi films (which I hated: flat character with horrible traits. I started wondering why Peter liked her).

  168. WinslowMudDon 27 Apr 2013 at 4:25 pm

    For me, the best personification if an independent, interesting female character comes from the “His Dark Materals” series. Yes, it has some very profound theological theroies, but that just makes it more interesting if you can think of it as not an insult. It is also one of few books that talking animals would be readily accepted in, because of the way that the handle it. (Daemons are basically a physical manifestation if your soul) The movie sucks by comparison also, and they only made one…

    Also, please forgive me for grammar/spelling, doing this on retarded iPod…

    Lyra Belacqua, a wild, tomboyish 12-year-old girl, has grown up in the fictional Jordan College, Oxford. Although initially ignorant of the fact, Lyra is Lord Asriel’s daughter. She is described as skinny with dark blonde hair and blue eyes. She prides herself on her capacity for mischief, especially her ability to lie with “bare-faced conviction”. Because of her ability, Iorek Byrnison (her armoured bear friend and protector) gives her the byname “Silvertongue”. Lyra has the alethiometer, which answers any question when properly manipulate

  169. Dr. Vo Spaderon 28 Apr 2013 at 5:59 pm

    One of my favorite female characters is the MC from the Mistborn Trilogy. She basically grew up in the gutters, and the first does a very good job of illustrating cultural differences between the rich and poor in older societies. (I love revolution versus high class themes, for the record. So…inspiring.)

  170. WinslowMudDon 28 Apr 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Those are some of my favorite kinds of stories too. But buildingsromans will always hold that number one spot for me.

  171. Kateon 24 May 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I think what irritates me the most when it comes to female characters is when theres only one, and oftentimes that -one- will be one of a handful of stereotypes you commonly see. It’s a little bizarre to me when there are extremely different percentages of gender’s present.

    What i’m referring to is most shows I see, especially comics, the gender’s present are 93% male and 7% female if that (and sometimes vice versa). I’m often left wondering how the world is even getting repopulated when even most of the bystanders or background characters are male as well (it gets worse when you look at extremely popular series like LOTR or Star Wars. One female? yea that’s enough…). There are a good number of shows that mess up the other direction too – a terrible reference I know – but I think strawberry short cake JUST added -one- male character which is insane (especially because it’s a children’s show and children’s shows are the worst offenders of the gender percentage gap). I think most shows/comics need to have at worst a 60/40% ratio.

    The problem that occurs when you have this kind of gender imbalance is that it makes the gender that has fewer characters more stereotypical and also less useful as they’re often in those instances just for show. ‘hey guys, we have -one- girl, that’s enough diversity right?’ ‘hey girls we have -one- guy, he can be the main characters beau but otherwise he’s pretty useless.’

  172. NatashaTheSovieton 25 May 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Hmm. I generally dislike when girls are completely tomboys or girlygirls and the entire thing is black and white. I like to wear makeup and dresses, and my father taught me to shoot a gun when I was 7. Though I’m careful about self-insertion, one of my females represents a similar archetype–cares about clothes but also independent/able-bodied. No real person is completely one full mindset all the time, without any traits not pertaining to that mindset.

    But then, I don’t like to characterize my characters by gender—their personalities are not because they are male or female. They’re just people.

    One female I really like that shows the above archetype is Snow White / Mary Margret from Once Upon A Time–she cares about stereotypical princess stuff (dresses, balls, jewelry, happy ever after) and also shoot ogres in the eyeballs and spears evils through the chest.

  173. lemonon 29 May 2013 at 4:56 am

    i like strong women that are realistic and don’t follow the stereotype of sitting in the background getting saved by the men and caring too much about clothes. sometimes its good to have a few elements of happy ever after and stuff but women should be portrayed as strong as male ones

  174. JediVulcanon 16 Jun 2013 at 4:58 pm

    I really like seeing female characters who are socially awkward, especially when that’s a result of intelligence. It’s quite a common character type, the geek who has problems relating to their peer group, or the genius who loses touch with humanity, but the majority of characters like that are male. It’s a prevailing view in our society that women are more in touch with people and emotions, so it’s nice to see a character that subverts that on occasion.

    Take, for instance, Samantha Carter from Stargate SG-1. On many occasions, she was shown to prefer working in her lab to going out and socialising, and she had a tendency to geek out at the drop of a hat over some new science problem. Her role on SG-1 was not to be the emotional centre, as so many lone female characters tend to be, but to be the brains of the operation. Add to that the fact that she could easily hold her own from a physical standpoint, and she very quickly became one of my all-time favourite characters.

    Also, I love seeing female- and indeed male- characters following career paths generally associated with the opposite gender. My own experiences with being the only girl in my physics classes (the subject I want to study for the rest of my life) for the past two years, I really appreciate when a character is in a job or situation where their gender makes them a minority but it isn’t made a big deal of. That’s another reason why I loved Sam in Stargate: beyond the first few episodes and the odd one here and there, no one makes an issue of her gender. The same is true of Helen Magnus (another Amanda Tapping character, interestingly enough) from Sanctuary, who is another capable, interesting character whose gender is petty much a non-issue. Although making a big deal of gender issues can lead to some excellent story-telling, it’s worth noting that a character is a character, and they can be well-rounded, complex and fit any role in a story regardless of their gender.

  175. Cat of Darknesson 14 Dec 2013 at 3:33 pm

    My favorite female character is Lara Croft from the 2013 Tomb Raider video game. She is so awesome! I also really like Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen (no spoilers, please! I haven’t even started Catching Fire yet)

    I positively dislike whiny girls, drama queens, and damsels-in-distress. Not only are they annoying, but they are horribly cliche.

    -Cat of Darkness

  176. Aj of Earthon 14 Dec 2013 at 5:20 pm

    *NO* spoilers I promise…

    But I literally just finished reading the entire Hunger Games series and I have to say Katniss Everdeen is one of my least favorite female characters ever. I was really displeased with her character and personality as well as her (if any) development. I genuinely loved the other characters and the books overall as a whole – it’s a really poignant concept especially as allegory for contemporary culture, and the settings/action/twists are wild – but Katniss as protagonist… Not a fan. (Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss however was spectacular. Tons of charisma, so enigmatic and emotive… Not so much for the book version unfortunately). =(

    And I’m not usually so crass but the wrap-up of the third book was bull$hit…

    Some of my favorite female characters though:

    – Ellen Ripley, specifically from the first two installments of Ridley Scott’s Alien films.

    – Susannah Dean/Odetta Holmes from Stephen King’s Dark Tower books.

    – Dr. Catherine Halsey from Eric Nylund’s/William Dietz’s HALO books (INCREDIBLE scifi based off the legendary Bungie game. I highly, highly recommend them!)

    – Elphaba Thropp, aka The Wicked Witch of the West from Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. The book. I’ve never seen the musical.

    …Just to name a few.

  177. Cat of Darknesson 14 Dec 2013 at 5:48 pm

    @Aj of Earth

    I can understand what you’re saying. For a while in the first book, I really hated her because her complaining was endless and awful. I like her, but not “really like”, which I accidentally said with her. (Whoops!) She can get so irritating.

    I have to admit, I’m not really looking forward to Mockingjay because I’ve heard a few rumors (luckily they had no spoilers). You have a very good point about everything you said and I have to say I agree a lot.

    My favorite character in the Hunger Games would definitely have to be Peeta, even though I am a feminist. The movie I saw before I read the book and I loved it. Rue’s death in the movie was much more sad, and luckily it excluded those freaky mutt-tribute-mutations.

    -Cat of Darkness

  178. Cat of Darknesson 14 Dec 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Whoops! I meant to say, “I’m glad it excluded the detailed freaky mutt-tribute-mutations”

  179. Aj of Earthon 14 Dec 2013 at 6:13 pm


    Yeah, the tribute muttations were pretty horrifying, though I do wish they’d been more included that way in the film (which again, was really fantastic). Eager to see Catching Fire.

    I’d say my favorite characters from the first book were Haymitch, Peeta, Rue and Effie Trinket (ha, yeah definitely Effie). Also Cinna. Although with Peeta, after joining up with the Careers and the incident involving the tracker jackers, I felt he was pretty much a non-element. Or rather, just extra passive, given he was so injured and out of general commission for the majority of the time. Though then again, it was Katniss’ story.

    Still no spoilers, but I very much enjoyed Gale’s character development in the third book.

  180. Cat of Darknesson 14 Dec 2013 at 6:37 pm


    Indeed the movie would be better with the muttations, that way, it could closer resemble the book.

    Yeah, Cinna, Rue, and Effie are definitely favorites.

    I can’t wait to see how Gale develops. And the Catching Fire movie and book are probably gonna be great.

    -Cat of Darkness

  181. B. McKenzieon 15 Dec 2013 at 11:19 am

    Speaking of surprisingly useful characters, I was not at all expecting Effie to kill President Snow. I did sort of expect Gale to die, but the Mexican standoff scene with Catniss’ little sister Primrose was PERFECT.

    /fake spoiler

  182. Cat of Darknesson 15 Dec 2013 at 11:32 am

    @B. McKenzie

    You tricked me for a minute! XD

  183. Aj of Earthon 15 Dec 2013 at 11:56 am

    That would have been a lot more satisfying, I’ll tell ya that.

  184. Cat of Darknesson 15 Dec 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Indeed it would be…

  185. Cat of Darknesson 15 Dec 2013 at 1:53 pm

    @B. Mac,

    Can I request a review forum?

  186. B. McKenzieon 15 Dec 2013 at 3:07 pm

    “Can I request a review forum?” Sure, I’ve set it up for you here.

  187. Cat of Darknesson 15 Dec 2013 at 3:16 pm

    @B. McKenzie, thank you.

  188. Cat of Darknesson 16 Dec 2013 at 12:15 pm

    @B. McKenzie

    Actually, could you take down my review forum by any chance? I don’t feel I will be needing it anymore.

    I hope you don’t mind.

    -Cat of Darkness

  189. B. McKenzieon 16 Dec 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Got it.

  190. Cat of Darknesson 16 Dec 2013 at 6:03 pm


  191. SourCreamTacoon 28 Dec 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Woah, woah, woah!

    Ya gettin’ stereotypical on me, bro? JK! I know lots o’ us talkin’ ’bout (mostly) great female characters…but there are so many ones that are awful. And I’d like to take some time to rant about ’em. (I’ll also take the time to change my wording while ranting so that you can understand it. Even though I’m lazy as hell!)

    Lois Lane
    Eh, she’s the least bad one. I like her, but a lot of times it seems like she’s only there to be Superman’s love interest *yawn*. I like her a bit, but she can be so damn annoying! She’s iffy with me… btw, sorry if I’m horrible at ranting, cause this is my first “critique”. GAH!

    And the one I really hate… I don’t want to say it cause I don’t want anyone to think I’m weird, but… It’s Katniss Everdeen!

    Night-night. Sweet dreams.

    The one and only…SOURCREAMTACO!!!! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

  192. Sakitaon 09 Jan 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Another female I hate are the type of women who don’t seem to be able to choose between two men. I mean seriously! Pick someone already! I don’t think this motive is romantic at all, I just think it’s annoying and distracting readers from the main plot. It makes me feel like the girl is some sort of trophee for the man she picks in the end. The men just have to prove they’re the right compagnon, and are trying to compete each other to win this ‘trophee’…

  193. B. McKenzieon 09 Jan 2014 at 10:40 pm

    “Another female I hate are the type of women who don’t seem to be able to choose between two men. I mean seriously!” I’m not opposed to having multiple love interests, but I find the wavering aspect highly annoying (whether believable/realistic or not). If you’d like to try multiple love interests without wavering, that is an option. For example, a recent movie has the protagonist consistently in love with one love interest until he betrays her, and then almost instantly she falls in love with another guy*. In contrast, Katniss’ wavering in the Hunger Games series is cold bordering on malicious — it’s basically her only trait I find unlikable.

    *In fairness, several other characters point out that her approach to romance is a bit wacky/irresponsible. Not surprisingly, getting engaged the same day she meets someone ends in disaster. More surprisingly: Everyone she knows is excited to see her race to be with another guy almost immediately thereafter. Maybe it’s time to slow things down a bit…

  194. AlucardZainon 16 Jan 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Man, I missed a rant about Bella…

    Now, dont get me wrong, I liked the books and movies (still havent seen Breaking Dawn part 2), but Bella as a character…words can’t even describe. She likes a guy that techinically stalks her, watches her every move. And when he disappears, she tries to kill herself just to get back at him for leaving her. And I’m a HUGE fan of vampires, but the series just disgraced vampires. “Sparkle”, “drink animal blood” shit like that… The only reasons why I liked the series though was the story (wasnt too bad but could’ve been better) and Alice. Alice is awesome! And the girl that plays her in the movies!

    Most superheroines I dont like cuz of:

    -rely on the hero WAY too much
    -complete bitchiness
    -stuck-up, rotten, spoiled know it all

    The heroines I did like:

    -Ms. Marvel(Carol Danvers) ((I do hope we get a TV show or a movie adaptation of her soon!))
    -Rukia Kuchiki from Bleach-she doesnt need to rely on Ichigo, and she is a badass herself in her own right
    -Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran High School Host Club-she is not the typical sterotype girl in a school, she dislikes showing her girly side, opts to show what matters is the persons inside, she doesnt really fall in love with Tamaki until later on
    -Summer Glau in Firefly and Serenity
    -Seras Victoria in Hellsing-she has interesting character development. Before she was turned into a vampire by Alucard, she was a cop that was shy if I remember correctly. She tried to help her other teammates, but when faced against them when they are ghouls, she couldnt shoot them cuz she thought they were still human. After Alucard bites her and turns her, she goes through very interesting character development. At first, shes still identifying that shes not a human anymore and is now a vampire (in a scene where she is given a bowl of human blood, she initially gets disgusted by the fact, not wanting to lose her humanity, but like the 2nd-3rd time shes givin this, she comes to terms and finally drinks said blood.) Also, at first she starts relying on Alucard and Walter to help her out in fights (except in her bloodlust state?) but near the end of the series, she takes out Shrodinger (or someone else I cant remember) by herself.

    So, I like female characters that go through development, are a badass, not a stereotypical girl, etc.

  195. Cillian Cotteron 27 Feb 2014 at 2:41 am

    When is the article about how to write female character’s going to be on the website?

  196. Amy Pondon 21 Apr 2014 at 10:41 pm

    I don’t think really girly girl characters are good, or really masculine girl characters are good. They have to have aspects of both. For instance a girly girl who likes gardening and getting dirty once in a while, or a tomboy who is embarrassed of the fact that she likes trying on dresses with friends, and anything in between.

  197. Mollyon 14 Jan 2016 at 11:42 pm

    So, I’m several years late to respond to this prompt, but since I still love coming back to this site I’ll assume that others do as well and leave my thoughts here 🙂

    Warning – this is a looooong comment. More of an essay really…

    Recently I’ve noticed a trend in books, and noticeably fanfiction; writers are terrified of writing feminine characters. Bella Swan was a plain Jane with no interest in clothes or socializing, unlike many real girls. Most fanfiction original characters take a similar mold – small, pale, pretty and unassuming with no defining feminine traits. They may love reading or art, and have a crush on the cute loner boy at school – but god forbid they show an interest in shoes or a new haircut. In fact, as if to emphasize what a special, unique snowflake their characters are, the writer will often have their character scorn girls that care about appearance or partying.

    Let me make one thing clear – I’m a girly girl. My best friend is a girly girl. We love to paint our nails, we never leave the house without make up and finding a cute item of clothing is genuinely exciting for us. We also go out every weekend to our favorite pub, get hammered and then run downstairs to this dingy little club with strobe lights and terrible music and dance our asses off.

    My mother and sister don’t share these interests, but never have I felt shamed for being interested in these typically feminine things.

    That said – I’ve been playing dungeons and dragons with my dad since I was six, until the point where it became a family tradition that we uphold until this day. I’ve been encouraged to read thick fantasy novels since I was in primary school, which I did with gusto. I’m a gamer and I often find myself locked in my room for days on end finishing a new game. I’m also a massive anime fan, and have been since dragonball z aired on TV when I was about five.

    So – I love reading, writing, anime and games, all things that are typically considered mutually exclusive to femininity. And yet – it isn’t! This is why the raging fear against feminine traits is so annoying to me – they’re portrayed as shallow!

    That really grinds my goat. Most girls really DO care about looking good, and most girls really DO enjoy going out and having fun. I know only one girl who loosely fits the mold for ‘not caring’ about appearances. She has terrible hygiene, refuses to wear makeup and is afraid of showing her shoulders in public. Oh, and she also happens to be insanely beautiful. She just prefers to stay in her room gaming. And do you know why? She suffers from crippling social anxiety.

    But even SHE walks into my room and admires her ass in my mirror when she happens to throw on something sexy. She also loves dancing in her room.

    Yeah, that’s right. Pretty much the only thing that’ll keep that particular girl from going out and shaking her ass is anxiety or insecurity. I’m sure this is the case for many girls. That and perhaps a sense of superiority alla ‘I’m too good for that rubbish because I’m interested in intellectual pursuits.’

    News flash – two of the craziest, most party and fashion obsessed girls I know are a set of gorgeous twins in their third year of law school. They’re getting straight A’s, often have Game of Thrones marathon parties and I’ve read some of their poetry – it’s absurdly deep stuff. They’re pretty much the closest things to Valley Girls that you’ll find in South Africa. They’re also two of the smartest people I know and they’re NEVER boring.

    This idea that a girl can’t be interesting and have substance if she cares about appearances is just ridiculous. I mean, seriously. Have you ever met a girl? Good luck finding one who GENUINELY doesn’t care. Moreover, the idea that a girl can’t be interesting if she enjoys going out and partying just baffles me. How exactly is a girl who stays home and socializes with no one a more interesting person? Going out is a social activity and it has the inherent risk of turning into a truly memorable night. How many times have you fondly reminisced about that one time you stayed home reading?

    This new trend of female characters who scoff at femininity is worrying for more reasons that one. Firstly, it will resonate with a lot of withdrawn, shy and reclusive girls. This isn’t a bad thing – a lot of shy girls are great when you get them out of their shell and DO have a lot of substance. The problem is – it also teaches them to look down on those who AREN’T withdrawn and shy. Now, I’m not sure what the deal is with romanticizing social ineptitude, but my memory of being an awkward loner is a painful one filled with misery. I don’t know why anyone would chose to be that way. These characters, the Bella Swan type, are BAD role-models (for the above reasons particularly, not just for the co-dependent romance angle)

    Now, please don’t think I’m saying that the only way for a girl to be social is to party. I definitely don’t think that. But the problem is that many writers struggle to come up with something else. Bella Swan had no interest in the same things as girls her age – and nor did she care about anything else! She wasn’t into karate, or part of a book club or a swimming team. She was practically a social vacuum! Often, writers will strip their female characters of feminine traits and replace them with…nothing at all.

    If you want to write a character that very specifically isn’t feminine, then you HAVE to give her other passions. And I’ve seen one too many times that these passions are often kind of flimsy when the romantic interest comes along. I would have no problem reading about a struggling female author who has no interest in girly things, so long as I believe that she is truly passionate about her writing – if this goal of hers falls by the wayside as the romance commences, I find myself either losing immersion or losing respect for the character.

    I would LOVE to read more about bad ass female characters that retain their femininity, and I certainly intend to write about at least one. Strong women don’t have to be weak damsels in distress to be vulnerable, and they don’t have to hate clothes to be awesome. A strong female character shouldn’t be able to do it all by herself – men can’t even do that! Everyone needs a support system, be it a life partner or a close friend or even a goldfish to cry to.

    And the dirty little secret is this – women ARE weaker than men in many regards. As a woman, I see no problem with this. We’re stronger than men in different ways. I’m privileged enough to live in a country with equal rights for both genders, so I see no reason to be butt-hurt about the differences between the sexes.

    The bottom line is this – If you want to write about a non-feminine woman with no vulnerability and all the strengths of a man and none of the strengths of a woman…ask yourself this; why on earth are you making this character female at all?

  198. Mollyon 15 Jan 2016 at 2:22 am

    It occurs to me that Amy managed to say pretty much exactly what I said, only succinctly enough not to cause eyes to bleed xD

  199. B. McKenzieon 15 Jan 2016 at 5:05 pm

    “In fact, as if to emphasize what a special, unique snowflake their characters are, the writer will often have their character scorn girls that care about appearance or partying.” IMO, very few characters in any fictional media will demonstrate much concern about appearance, and the few that do are probably helping the writers demonstrate a point about the character being superficial and/or self-centered. However, in every visual media, women will literally roll out of bed in full makeup, and even the manliest men have waxed chests. TALKING about makeup or (God help you) waxed chests would be superficial, but if it’s just silently there then the audience probably won’t notice that the character is doing something that would be really strange in real life. (Also, in TV/movies, major police characters never wear helmets on tactical raids because it helps readers tell who’s who and helps the actors show emotions, but unnamed SWAT officers generally wear full armor. Your major police characters don’t have a good in-story reason for not wearing a helmet, but as long as you just handle it silently, the strangeness will go unnoticed).

    “So – I love reading, writing, anime and games, all things that are typically considered mutually exclusive to femininity.” I have no idea about anime/games, but my impression is that reading/writing are not generally thought of as highly feminine. E.g. in nonfiction, there’s probably a slight male majority of male readers (and a huge male majority in some subsets). In fiction, there’s probably a slight female majority overall and a huge majority in (among other subsets) romance and drama. Personally, my creative writing classes were pretty similar in gender breakdown to the college as a whole (40-45% men, 55-60% women), and even among relatively masculine students (e.g. ROTC cadets) I don’t think that an interest in creative writing was perceived as strange or unmasculine. In contrast, I think it’d be seen as really weird for a relatively masculine student to study (say) drama, dance, or gender studies.

    “I would have no problem reading about a struggling female author who has no interest in girly things, so long as I believe that she is truly passionate about her writing…” Going off on a tangent, I feel that it’s really hard to work a character’s interest for (fiction) writing into a plot, especially if the central plot is mainly about something besides writing (e.g. romance). If the character’s interest for writing is mainly there to add a layer to the character but isn’t directly relevant to the plot, it may be difficult to find much space to cover it, whereas a nonfiction writer’s work (e.g. newspaper journalism) can be easily incorporated into most plots and working a news story can lead to interesting conflicts with pretty much anyone over anything. Also, there may be some self-insert issues for fiction-writing main characters, particularly novelists, but I think they’re less common than poets. My main concern with poets would be that they tend to be used as walking stereotypes (e.g. the Moody Artist or, especially if male, the Sensitivo). If the poetry is an unexpected wrinkle on a character that’s well-developed in other directions, that could actually be pretty badass. BATTLE POET. SOULLESS CORPORATE POET. NINJA POET. DISGRUNTLED DETECTIVE POET. HOCKEY HOOLIGAN POET. ROGUE AI POET*. Any one of these would probably be a lot less lazy and more promising starting point than Moody Artist Poet.

    *Actual work from the rogue AI in question:

  200. ???on 08 May 2016 at 8:37 am

    Brilliantly put Molly. It drives me crazy as well when people go on and on about hating female characters who care about their clothing. And um if you feel it makes those characters shallow and boring then I feel sorry for you because you’re going to end up hating 99.9% of the female population because I’ve never met a girl who has genuinely not cared about what she wears!

  201. B. McKenzieon 08 May 2016 at 11:20 am

    “because you’re going to end up hating 99.9% of the female population because I’ve never met a girl who has genuinely not cared about what she wears!” Many, probably most, of the women I know do not exhibit much “genuine care in what they wear.” It is possible that they are secretly fashionistas and/or talk frequently about clothing when talking with women, but from what I can observe, I’d wild-assedly guess they spend less than 30 minutes per day thinking about clothes and probably less than 20 hours per year shopping for clothes.

    Also, median worldwide per capita household income is about $3000 per year. I wouldn’t be shocked if most people around the world think very differently about clothing (especially shopping for clothing) than most 1st world people do.

  202. Andrewon 25 Oct 2016 at 4:39 am

    Things I like with female characters:
    A sense of humor, the ability to crack a joke every now and then
    A sly comment where one can be used: Example;
    Male character: You’re… a woman?!
    Female character: Oh, you mean these two didn’t give it away earlier?
    Just so long as you don’t overdo it. Like don’t make her every line sarcastic then you’ve got a bitch
    A knowledge of combat. A female that can take on a gang of thugs and beat the crap out of them (Wonder Woman, Catwoman etc)
    The smart. A female hero who knows the beat of solving crimes and stopping bad guys just as well as a male hero
    A little tomboy. Enough that she would be willing to compete in a burping contest or play in the mud with friends but not too much to not notice the used underwear in the middle of the floor. Male or female, both sexes will register that as disgusting
    A woman who is capable of fending off the sexual advances of piggish males yet still be a sweetheart around those who don’t
    The ‘I got your back’ female

    Things I don’t like in female characters
    The aforementioned bitch. Someone who insults/talks down on other characters ever for no reason whatsoever, thinks only of herself, the kind of character that would make other characters mimic having a bow and arrow and point it at her when her back is turned
    The damsel: A female whom the villains captures and ties up to a rocket about to launched off into space, serves no purpose other than to be rescued. But at the same time, I don’t like
    Ungratefulness. Someone who is rescued (By either male or female heroes) but says something like ‘I didn’t need your help’ or ‘Do you mind not butting in?’, the female who shows no appreciation for anything anyone else does, even if it was saving them from certain death
    The whiner. Need I say more?
    Overly sensitive. Someone says something negative, even small like costume, and she’s bursting into tears and running away
    The fangirl. Just see any One Direction fangirl. They get in the way of the hero while he’s chasing the bad guys. Some often get… violent

  203. Lulu Mendlon 19 Jan 2018 at 12:18 pm

    In a lot of books/movies, the idea of a “nerdy” female character is someone who reads a lot of poetry, listens to alternative rock, and wears clothes from thrift stores. THAT IS NOT NERDY. That is a manic pixie dream girl. True nerdiness is playing a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, listening to classic rock/electronica, and wearing your favorite Stranger Things t-shirt from Hot Topic! We need more ultra-nerdy women like this in fiction, and we need them to be portrayed in a positive sense instead of portraying them as ugly or undesirable. On another note, we also need characters in fiction who are conventionally ugly or undesirable. AND THESE NEED TO BE MAIN CHARACTERS! The main character doesn’t always need to be a skinny, beautiful MPDG. Throw some nerds in there, guys!

  204. Jakeon 25 Jul 2018 at 2:09 pm

    I was thinking of a female “magic healer” but I wanted to make her a torturer in a dungeon. Since she knows how to heal almost any injury, she knows which ones hurt the most. She would bring her victim to the brink of death, bring them back, then do it again. You could say its counterproductive, but imagine she snaps your hero’s/heroine’s arm bone to heal it and snap it again and again, or can bleed you out, just to replenish your blood cells the moment you pass out. Just my take on an common archetype.

  205. redassassinon 20 Mar 2019 at 5:19 pm

    My book is actually mainly female characters and really only one of them is the “omg i’m such a drama queen” and that’s on purpose. Abby isn’t really supposed to be the hero, she’s more of the “distracter” or something, I don’t know. She has superspeed. Like Jake, I’m having a healer. She is actually the first person to escape the town and is super nice…GIRL POWER! There’s also kinda a bitch too, Emily. She’s not the annoying person but is a genetically(nonee nonee) engineered person who works for the government. But she isn’t really grateful(Emily ponders this for a second. “Fine. But don’t expect me to keep you in the loophole. This is my business, and you just happen to know about it.” “I never expected that.” “Then why’d you butt into my business?” I sigh. “I didn’t. I was trying to help you.”) Ava’s a nerd and I base her off of myself…:3. (The smartest girl in school, Ava Siaguard, sits next to me.) Mackenzie’s like a badass I guess…she jumps off of a building.

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