Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Female Character Deal Breakers

crab apple

Hello all! How’s things?

I’ve started listening to The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas and so far so good. It’s hard to imagine the lengths Old Timey rich dudes will go over flowers. They are flowers! No need to plot terrible revenges over tulips.

I’ve been a moody reader again this week. I don’t really know what I want to read and everything is making me grumpy. I have an ARC by a local writer and I feel bad because I am just not in the mood for it.

I have been thinking about female characters after listening to the Smart Bitches podcast. Sarah discussed the “strong female protagonist” trope with author Jaye Wells. It’s very interesting and good points were made. When does a strong female character become a stereotype?

Women characters in general are something I’ve been pondering. Recently, I had been reading a book that I ended up dnfing due to the treatment of one of the few women characters. This woman, when first introduced, has been abused by her boyfriend and is continuing to live with him. She is obviously going to become an object (I use that literally) of interest for the main male protagonist. A damsel worthy of saving. I am so tired of this trope.

I skimmed through the end and not much changed in that area. Plot over characterization was a priority in the novel, so none of the characters are particularly interesting. I’m not familiar with the author’s prior work, but this was a deal breaker for me. Abuse as backstory is not going to keep me reading. Don’t make it her defining quality. I can put up with unlikeable female characters, silly ones, overtly sexual ones, murderous ones, and much more. I’m drawing the line here. Give me more than this to make me care about your character. It’s a shortcut if you want to spend less time on characterization, as most tropes are, but as a woman I am so damned tired of it. Could we find something else, please?

Obviously, I’m still going to complain about all the other tropes, but I’m like Liz Lemon from now on when I read this one…




  1. Amen! I have nothing else to add.

  2. You go girl! Poorly written female characters are a no-go zone for me.

  3. I completely agree with this! I find the 'strong female character' trope is often a disguise for having a one-dimensional women. I don't need my female characters to be strong (not always anyway!), I need them to feel real. And the abuse-as-backstory trope is definitely not cool either. Abuse should be dealt with as the complex issue that it is rather than using it as a device to replace real character development. Great rant! :D

  4. YUP. Especially when it's treated without any specificity, and without being centered on the woman's experience. I cosign this complaint.

  5. Agree! I've always thought "strong female lead" or "strong female main character" meant strong as in well-developed, three-dimensional, and playing a major role, not strong as in "kick-ass but ready for Prince Charming to come along", as it seems to be meant these days!


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