Embracing Entropy: Strong Female Characters (Spoiler Warning-Kind of haha)

I’ve been keeping my mouth shut on so many aspects of my latest release. It’s torture. There are so many little things I’m dying to spill. haha

Gwen

This is the most difficult aspect of being an author.

I want to discuss everything. I love books. Dissecting them is part of what I do.

The full print edition of all the novellas in the Embracing Entropy Trilogy was released over 5 months ago, and I cannot stay silent any longer.

https://www.amazon.com/Embracing-Entropy-Jessica-Marie-Baumgartner/dp/1943755205/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471531103&sr=8-1&keywords=embracing+entropy

I won’t delve into too much today. But beware: THERE WILL BE MORE! haha

If you don’t already know this is a space opera series where Earth is dying. An alien race comes to offer us aid and allows us passage to start anew on their planet, Z’najib. We follow the Campbell family through their struggles on the journey and when they struggle to assimilate.

Allie Campbell is the voice of the 1st novella. She’s a mom. She’s a wife. But mainly she scared shittless because her entire life she’s been searching for safety and never found it. She uses her duties to her children as a distraction from these fears to do what she has to do and be strong for her children.

 By the Stars Cover final

I personally HATE the “strong female character” obsession. It has produced more forced works that stereotype women than ever. I do not consider any of my women “strong female characters” I consider my main characters, main characters. Sometimes they are women and sometimes they show strength. But even the strongest women have weak moments. That is reality.

Female characters always suffer far more scrutiny than males. It seems that a great deal of women are very particular about how they wish to be portrayed, but I find that most of us just want to be seen as people. Slapping the “strong female character” label on a woman in a work of fiction has begun to create an image that doesn’t seem to fit that. (I also hate categories and boxes and labels-I’d rather just write an organic story with feeling and depth)

When I sat down to dive into book 2 of this series I had to get into Maddi’s head. She is Allie’s daughter, and very unlike her. Allie was a breeze to write. I am a mother, I have dealt with bullshit cuz we all have) and had to set my feelings aside for the benefit of my children. Taking on the aspects of cracking open Maddi’s head nearly killed me. haha

Wish for Survival Cover

She is nothing like me. She is definitely not a “strong female character”. At least not by society’s ridiculous Hunger Games/Hollywood/Cookie Cutter standards. She is selfish. She is simple. She is NOT a fighter. If it were not for the people around her she would have died when the war came.

Writing her struggles, her constant fear consumed me for a bit. I’m a no regrets/fight until you die kind of person, so this was extremely difficult for me. It made me physically ill at times. But I have to say, her perspective is my favorite in the series. because it is one that we take for granted. I know a lot of women who have expressed feelings similar to hers and they are underrepresented in works of fiction because of the ever popular “strong female character” grab.

feelings

Now, Maddi’s little sister, Gwen, takes over for book three and she is your typical “strong female character”. It fit the story and worked. I didn’t set out intending to make her so. I just sat down and let her tell me who she is word by word. She is also a lesbian. That was not a political decision. I didn’t rack my brain about diversity and social justice warrior fighting, I wrote her as a person. A person similar to a few of my friends and myself. I am a bi-sexual woman, I love breasts and curves. I get it guys, I really do. I expanded on my attraction to women and the things I learned from my lesbian friends in the past and let it flow.

lesbian

Labeling a character as a “strong female” might sell movie tickets and books, but what really sticks with people is a good story and believable characters. I write from the heart and edit from the hip. My head jumps in there somewhere, but the art of writing isn’t about gimmicks and labels. That’s marketing. That comes later. haha

4 thoughts on “Embracing Entropy: Strong Female Characters (Spoiler Warning-Kind of haha)

  1. J. Edward Ritchie says:

    Great article made even better by the Gwen Stefani and Summer GIFs 🙂
    Writing cannot be explained in diagrams, archetypes, and plot formulas. There’s something raw, instinctual, and often hypocritical about what we do. Our culture has become obsessed with “logical” decision making in characters, as if we’re all Vulcans! In real life, people rarely act logically…and female characters are no different. Go rewatch Buffy and see how many very poor, very human choices she makes over the course of the series.

  2. Shannon Noel Brady says:

    Agreed! I hate the term “strong female character” because it usually reduces the character to a flat, one-dimensional stereotype. That term usually refers to women who shoot guns or swing swords, and the writers expect that to be enough. No. I want female characters who are complex, and varied, and human, and INTERESTING. Ugh, this is another topic I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about!

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