HI book lovers and writers everywhere!
Something happened a few weeks ago that I’ve just been DYING to write about. I received some feedback on my book about how my character needed to be more willing to save the world. More… heroic. And my initial response was, yes. Of course. The popular female leads in books are strong and valiant and fighters, so mine should be, too. But the more I thought about it, the more the idea seemed… unappealing. It was unrealistic to me, and uncharacteristic to my character.
Which leads me to my secret confession. I’m not a big fan of the strong lead.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. I do like the lead to be strong. I just don’t like when she’s all macho, save-the-world-with-my-awesome-unique-talent-that-only-I-have strong… in EVERY BOOK I READ. It’s okay occasionally. I didn’t mind it in Divergent because Tris started out a little weaker than everyone else and HAD to work THAT much harder to be strong. It was a part of her character arc.
I heard in an interview with Stephenie Meyer once that when the producers of Twilight made the movie, they wanted to give Bella a gun and have her shooting vampires. They wanted it to be an action packed movie. They wanted this, because strong leads are hot in the market right now. Everyone loves the invincible girl.
Well, not everyone. I don’t. And Meyer apparently said no to the producers.
Don’t think I’m completely anti-strong female lead. I feel like if being strong and a fighter is in their character, fine. I mean, Katniss was a hunter before the Hunger Games, so she had to be strong and quick. She had to be a fighter to keep her family alive, and then to keep herself alive. There is a place for the physically strong lead. But there’s also a place for those characters who… aren’t invincible. It’s okay to be little weak, to be a little reluctant to be the hero.
Because when I dig deep, when I dig REALLY deep into the core of who I am, I’m not sure I would be the hero, either. In a corrupt government, I would probably rather run away and hide than become a targetable leader. Is that wrong? Maybe. Is it admirable? No. Is it realistic? I think so. And I’m not saying the strong lead is unrealistic. It is realistic—for some people.
But not all people.
So when I read a book about a character who’s a straight shooter, and, hey, she’s also the most beautiful girl in District 12, I can’t help but cringe a little. Give me someone with average looks. Give me someone who’s less than spectacular. Give me someone ordinary, and then make her story extraordinary.
THAT’S the book I want to read.