In lots of YA novels the female character is often portrayed as a strong, independent young woman facing enormous problems with a huge amount of courage. Which is great, but that is often their only quality. It’s like being a strong woman is so monumental that they can’t be anything else. YA female heroines are portrayed as characters who are not affected at all by anything, because they fit into the now fashionable stereotype of a ‘strong female character’ But women are people, not just devices for a money scrambling author to use to prove a ridiculous point about not being ‘damsel in distress’. Why can a male character be funny, witty, brave, strong, nervous, proud and happy, when a female character is just completely one dimensional. Women can be strong in so many ways, emotional strength doesn’t mean you’re amazing at fighting and sports, you can be strong in lots of other ways. And how about if you don’t want to be strong? The problems a YA female character faces in this specific genre of literature, normally relate to the lives of the young reader, but in order to avoid the now shameful stereotype of being a ‘damsel in distress’ the character often faces the situation with an unrealistic amount of courage, that sets ridiculous expectations for young people, regardless of their gender. Women can be just as strong or stronger than men, but what these authors are missing, is that it’s okay to be emotional, it doesn’t make you weak, it doesn’t make you a ‘bad feminist’. It makes you human.
So when writing my novel, I was keen to avoid this stereotype I quite obviously hate. But it isn’t that easy and my female character Kate, is proving very difficult to write. My mind is telling me to avoid the two extreme stereotypes of ‘damsel in distress’ and ‘fearless emotionless heroine’ in order to make Kate realistic. I want to make her emotional, but at the same time I’m trying to portray someone who is shutting down completely. I already admire Kate for her strength, but you could criticize her for being cowardly towards the end of the book. I’ve become so entangled in avoiding the ‘strong’ female stereotype that I’ve become lost in Kate’s character.
Let’s say Kate is a Victoria Sponge.
Well I wanted her to have lots of layers, but unfortunately all my layers have sort of squished together. I mean the jam and cream is EVERYWHERE so it’s sort of unclear who she actually is. Which is kind of good, but from a reader’s point of view it creates a weak character.
So I’m trying to make a new cake, but I’m unsure what layers to go for. If anyone could help me out that would be very much appreciated. It’s probably best if you have some knowledge on creative writing. Just drop your email in the comments and I’ll send you an extract from my novel, then we can work out how to define the character.
Sorry for practically begging people to help me out at the end there, but what are blogging communities for? ANYWAY what are your opinions on the way YA female characters are written, please talk to me down below.
Thank you so much for reading,
ps. I’m sorry for my absence, I’ve been feeling a little down recently.
(also view my weekly post on the collab blog This & That here thank you for the lovely comments so far)