HOW TO WRITE KICK-ARSE HEROINES: Learning about different shades of 'hero' with the Handmaid's Tale.
I like girls in stories a lot.
And like most everyone else, I love a great kick-arse heroine.
And that got me wondering about what actually makes a heroine kick-arse, and how these ideas can help writers create fully fleshed out and wonderful women characters within their stories.
First up, I wanted to start with a list of truly iconic women characters, that I believe to be excellently portrayed within their story, and who I consider to be a total kick-arse heroine:
Obviously these are just a few selected examples of the many great and iconic examples universally accepted to be kick-arse characters, but I think the most interesting thing about all these women listed above is how very utterly different they all are. Which brings me to the idea that I wanted to discuss today:
A kick-Arse heroine can be written in a million different ways. But she does not need to be able to literally physically kick arses to be considered worthy of hero status.
I love a girl who can fight and hold her own physically as much as the next person. I LOVE reading about girls like Wonder Woman. Powerful, good and physically able to hold her own in a fight against gods. And like Wonder Woman, most of the women on the above list are there for utterly obvious reasons.
Yet I also love reading about women who are strong in different ways as well.
For instance, Hermione is many a girl’s role model and hero because she is smart (and not embarrassed to show it) and she never strays from doing what is right.
Offred from the Handmaid’s Tale blew me away because she endures utter degradation and agony on a daily basis and yet still survives. It shows immense strength of character to go through what that character has suffered, to make the compromises she has chosen to, all in order to just...survive.
So to flesh out this example a little bit, I want to use a character from one of my absolute favourite books, from one of my absolute favourite authors, ‘Daughter of the Forest’ by Juliet Mariller.
Sorcha is the kind of heroine that draws parallels with Offred from the Handmaid’s Tale. She is woman who endures more than you can believe is possible, and yet her willpower is so unbreakable that despite her outer appearance, I came to realise that this small frail girl is actually one of the strongest characters I have ever read about.
And yet she remained utterly different to the way I expected strong characters to be.
I guess it is pretty obvious in the end.
Women are humans, and humans can be strong or not strong in a million differing ways!