WIP · Writing

The Importance of Female Characters in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

So, err, my resolution to blog more frequently hasn’t gone all too well lately, BUT! I have just finished my most recent round of revisions for MIDNIGHT QUEEN. I’m super happy with the way it turned out—although I am aware it does need a lot more tweaking to fit my vision of how it should be—but for now I’m pleased to have it…done. Which also means that I can focus on other things! I’m currently at the blissful stage of “What do I work on next!?” which is both terrifying and exciting…and one of the feelings I treasure most as a writer. And as I’m drafting this I’m combing through my current list of WIPs and deciding which one is beginning to be written/edited next. ❤

So this post comes on the heels of the release of Wonder Woman which I’m so, so, so excited to go see. (About TIME we get a female lead for a modern superhero film.) And of course, whenever a big-budget female-driven film is released there undoubtedly comes a ton of male criticism—or, just as bad, the need for this film to “prove itself” for more female-driven superhero films to be created. I’ve been meaning to draft this post for a while now on female leads in sci-fi/fantasy, and I can’t think of a better time.

Literally all protagonists I’ve written so far are female. A lot of my books (basically all) revolve around science-fiction or high fantasy. I grew up with an older brother, which meant Star Wars and computer games, and learned quite quickly that female presence in a central role in them…wasn’t a lot. As amazing as Leia Organa is, I wanted a female to be the one saving the galaxy; I wanted a female Luke Skywalker. I’m now eternally grateful for characters like Rey and Jyn Erso but sort of wish that I’d had women like that when I was a kid…hence why I write what I do now. For teens, especially. One of my current WIPs, THIS STORM RISING, is a YA sci-fi in the same vein as Star Wars and yep, you guessed it, my protagonist is female. She’s a thief, she’s a con-artist, she’s a character I intentionally put in this role because it felt like such a traditional…man’s role. (She was also sort of inspired by White Collar’s Neal Caffrey & Leverage’s Parker. Side note: if you’ve never watched these shows before, DO SO. They’re amazing.)

With my protagonist in THIS STORM RISING, I wanted to write a female character that challenged feminine stereotypes. I wanted to write a character whose femininity was viewed not as a weakness, but a strength. A woman with high standards and knows what she’s worth. I wanted to write a character who owned herself; her body, her sexuality, her own intelligence, and didn’t let the men around her—no matter how powerful they were—define who she is. She cares how her nails look and uses her beauty as a weapon…but she’s also not afraid to fight and get her hands dirty (both literally and figuratively, I guess.) She lives in one hell of a gray moral zone, kicks some MAJOR butt throughout the book, but ultimately, I want to craft her as a flawed human being that messes up. A lot. But neither does she let her mistakes define who she is—or how others see her.

It’s a novel I’m aching to get back to because the characters—the MC, particularly—mean the world to me in so many different ways.

So—chin up, ladies.

We rock this world.


Currently reading: THE CHOSEN by JR Ward (DAMNNN these books. <33333)

Currently listening to: The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky

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9 thoughts on “The Importance of Female Characters in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

  1. We’ve got ONE film where a lady kicks ass and someone is criticizing? 😀 Jesus, I think they have nothing better to do!

    I think the thing about scifi is that most of it was written by men in a pretty mysogynistic environment (…the 80s, LOL) so this is what we have. I feel it’s going to change though, cause right now we’ve got so many women writers! Possibly even more than men..? At least in the blogging part of the world?

    What I personally want are no-bullshit scifi or fantasy female leads. They do have female leads – but they make them so perfect (especially for YA) that you just end up feeling bad about yourself, and it’s unrealistic. Seriously, what girl would traipse around a dystopian world with no shampoo and perfect hair? It makes me furious. So including females is not the only thing, it is EXCLUDING THE STEREOTYPE that has to happen. We’re human, we shouldn’t be pushed against those standards even in books.

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    1. I know right!? Ugh. Some of the crit. I’ve heard based simply on the fact that it’s led by a female literally made me roll my eyes. Ughhh.

      Yep, I hear you on that—and I’m really looking forward to a move female-driven society when it comes to the arts, especially as we’re slowllllyyyy moving away mysogynistic behavior. (Sort of. We still have a LONG way to go.) In saying that, though—I DO love Sarah Connor’s character from the 80s’ Terminator. Badass, totally capable, I just love everything about her (especially in the second film.)

      Oh my gosh, YES. I completely forgot to mention that, but YES. Also the lack of talking about periods which really grinds my gears.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, she is pretty tough 🙂 but characters like that are rare.
        Oh yes, lack of periods 😀 or, or… how they sleep around with no protection and nothing happens?? Right, right, people didn’t have 14 offspring in the middle ages 😀 😀 this is… the end of the world, it doesn’t apply! 😀

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  2. OMG THIS POST SPEAKS TO MY SOUL. Also your books. 😍Your boooooks. I want to read them all, especially this con artist badass woman and also the one where her femininity is a strength not a weakness. I love that in books. It actually pains me when books/movies think “badass females” have to scorn femininity. Why can’t we have both and all?!? I don’t even like DC but I 50000% want to watch Wonder Woman because it’s ridiculous that it’s 2017 and we only NOW get our first female-lead film. Pffthtught. I hope Marvel catches up.

    (ALSO LEVERAGE AND WHITE COLLAR ARE EVERYTHING.)

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    1. OMG CAIT. Thank you!! It literally made my weeeeeeek to hear you say that about my books, haha. Dealing with the whole femininity-is-a-strength concept is SO much fun to work with. I actually cannot wait to dive back into edits, honestly.

      Yesss. Heist/thievery shows are my lifeeeeee.

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  3. Hi Kara! You commented on my blog a loooooong time ago and I only just now managed to get around to reading it! I actually had no idea that you were a writer, and I will definitely get around to picking up Frayed very soon. 🙂 Aussie writers represent!

    I absolutely adore strong female characters in ANY literature. To be honest, I was left feeling underwhelmed by Wonder Woman. I’m not very good with superhero/action movies to start with, and I also felt like something was missing. I think this is just a case of over-hype plus it’s-not-you-it’s-me. I can certainly appreciate what it has achieved though, and I think it has helped to encourage and inspire young women everywhere.

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    1. Aww, thank you so much!! That means a lot. <333

      Ahh, shame you were underwhelmed by Wonder Woman—but each to their own, right? You're right, I'm seeing SO many heartfelt posts by women who've seen/been inspired by Wonder Woman…and it's amazing to see. Fingers crossed I fall in love with it!

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  4. I loveeee the sound of your heroine. I am a little bit tired of ‘strong female character’ being a box in itself, as so many of the defining characteristics of a strong female are ones that criticises a large portion of women elsewhere.

    I adored Wonder Woman, btw, so the haters can eat it.

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    1. Ahh, great to hear that Aentee! I so, so, so hope that I get to share that story/character with the world one day. ❤

      Oh, I see what you mean. I've also seen the concept of strong female characters scoffed at by others…which makes my blood boil a bit, haha. And, honestly, I think "strong" means so many different things to different people. Kick ass, quiet, standing up for what you believe in—the possibilities are endless. Strong can be portrayed in many different ways, and the wonderful thing about being a writer is that I can (try to) explore them all. ❤

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