I agree with Elisabeth one hundred percent. The last paragraph is exactly what I base my books on: “What do I think comprises a “strong” heroine? A girl who stands up for what she believes in and does what she needs to do, even if there’s no one backing her and even if everyone else is against her—it’s just that simple.”
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I would like to revisit the meaning of “strong” heroine. Lately, I’ve noticed the term coming to mean some varying degree of a weapon-wielding succubus whose alleged lack of fear and ability to dominate men are interpreted as being powerful. But I don’t think those traits make an individual “strong” at all.
Fighting skills are one of the main things that dub a heroine “strong.” I think this is absolutely unnecessary. Miri from Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy and Intisar Khanani’s Thorn from Thorn are excellent examples. A character who faces more powerful enemies with nothing but a touch of bravery and a desire to do what’s right has just as much right to be called “strong” as the one who faces down armies. (Though I admit I do like warrior girls every now and again.)
Another trait that is sadly often associated with “strong” female characters (male characters, too), is…
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