Character Strength and Female Character Rescue

While writing, I have frequently asked myself a few questions about my main female character Feralyne. The two that have been at the foremost of my mind are:

  • Is she too powerful/ too weak in regards to magic?
  • Is the occasional rescue too romantic-era chauvinistic?

Naturally, I wouldn’t write the scenes if I believed them to be detrimental to the book. I seriously stay up at night thinking about this. It’s the writer in me.

For the first question, I wanted Fera to have moderate-level magic. In part this is because too many main characters are given outrageous power and given the proper training, they can come out on top of even the worst of baddies. In another part, it’s because it simply wasn’t part of Feralyne’s charm. She’s witty, she’s clever, she is the fox who bests the bear. I also wanted her to be somehow average to give the reader something to seize hold of. If magic were to suddenly flood the world and bestow power to everyone, a few would be extra potent, a few would be pretty low, and most people would be average. Fera uses her magic when it is necessary and it later becomes her sixth sense, but she uses what we all have: the mental capacity to outsmart. Should I lower her magic ability, I fear it would diminish her odds of actually winning her battles, should I raise it, I fear it would be a cop-out, an easy way for her to win.

For the second question…that has been more difficult. Modern teaching says to never let your main character be rescued–it’s a true cop-out, it shows weakness either in the writer or in the character, rescues are from a bygone era of romance and chauvinism. To be honest, I don’t rightly care. I want my books to have elements of romance, and chauvinism is something we still contend with today. If it is appropriate for someone to, say, blast a vampire off Dresden, is it not also an appropriate course of action if Dresden had been Daisy? Or would that suddenly classify under the “maiden in tower guarded by dragon” category? Now…the earlier two are more difficult to answer, and they are possibly even more subjective and harder to prove either way. I’ve learned when I’m subconsciously taking the easy way out (like when I write “he looked confused” instead of describing how he looked confused), and I don’t believe these rescue scenes are a cop-out. They’re a way to force trust and encourage a relationship between primary characters. Plus, the favors are mutually returned. Now…about the weaknesses in either the writer or the character, sadly this is only a thing that the reader can decide. I sure do not wish to be a weak writer, nor do I wish to have a weak character unless said character has redeeming qualities or ransoms themself in the end.

I do wish I had a straightforward answer for these things. But, I don’t. It’s complicated. It’s influenced by our commonly accepted socio-cultural identification, our life experiences, and what we like in a “good read”. Only the readers can decide for sure what the answer is.

Till later,

Nicolette

PS, I will have at least Chapter 1 posted very soon, as I am now reasonably sure it will not change.

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