Promoting strong female heroes in fiction

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Female heroes, female heroines – take your pick.

About a year ago, I was watching the movie Jack Reacher, eating some buttered popcorn, admiring Tom Cruise’s fake-fighting skills … and then something clicked – where were the female thriller heroes?

I’d just finished reading The Bourne Identity around the same time. While I love thriller novels, overall the genre has a lack of stories focused on females as the protagonists. When females are mentioned, they’re usually in need of being rescued by the male hero or serving as bait to ensnare the hero into the villain’s trap.

There are some thrillers which feature women as the leads – Salt, Nikita, Alias, to name an awesome few – but the majority of action stories showcase the power of male heroes. I wanted to provide another (always needed) female hero, so I created Jane Lu in my Young Adult thriller, The Innocent Assassins. She’s a seventeen-year-old teen girl/highly trained assassin and undercover spy who beats just as many villains as the boys.

Even from the male-dominated thriller genre, female-dominated genres such as historical romance also tend to have “swooning” heroines and “brooding” heroes. The men are the ones with an exciting career, while women are the ones attending balls and worrying over gowns. While I love historical romance, I longed for more books featuring hard-working heroines who were just as capable as the heroes.

With that, I wrote about Evelyn Lancaster in my western historical romance, One Last Letter. Evelyn’s a tough-as-nails plantation owner who rejects marrying for love in order to do what’s best for her ranch. Her goals are placed firmly in continuing her financial success, not catching the eye of the closest cowboy.

Both Jane and Evelyn are around my age – late teens/early twenties. They’re the kind of heroines everyone needs to read more about, especially young girls.

As a teen author, I know both the weight of written words and the intense scrutiny teens face from peer pressure. With the rapid responses of social media, we’re incredibly influenced by whatever we read and hear and see. That’s why all the characters we’re exposed to influence our lives. Imagine how incredible it would be if every female character was an independent role model rather than a damsel in distress.

Strong heroines – if it’s an archetype, it’s my favorite one. The world can’t have enough tough female characters out there to inspire others. We need powerful female role models in fictional worlds to inspire girls in the real world.

{This article was originally posted on the awesome Girls Can’t WHAT?}

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2 thoughts on “Promoting strong female heroes in fiction

  1. I was just thinking about this the other day and this post pretty much sums up how I feel about this. There are lots of strong kick-ass heroines in fiction these days, but there’s certainly room for more! One of the aspects I really enjoyed in TIA was that Jane Lu was both a strong female character and of a diverse ethnicity. We could use more strong but diverse female leads in fiction 🙂 x

    p/s hope you are well!

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