I'm Tired of "Strong" Female Characters Part Three

Friday, June 29, 2018

Last week, I shared three tips on crafting a strong female character in this blog post. This week, I've saved my biggest tip for last. It's just one tip, but I've saved this for one big post so that it's easier to understand and apply. Are you ready? Here we go! 
Let Her Be Strong in Other Ways.
The only way that strong women seem to be depicted as being strong is in a fierce and violent way. 

The strong woman is the one beating up all of the bad guys. She's the one leading the rebels into battle. She's the one going undercover. She's doing what the guys can't (my thoughts on this will need to wait for a different post). But fighting isn't the only way a woman can be strong.

One strong woman in fiction is Arwen of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. 

She doesn't fight anyone. She doesn't kill anyone. She doesn't run around "breaking stereotypes" and "proving that women can do whatever men can do." Yet she doesn't sit around making doilies either. Arwen waits loyally for Aragorn to come back to her. She never lets go of the hope that she will be reunited with Aragorn. She encourages others around her. She is full of grace and isn't afraid to be feminine. 

Arwen makes the hard choice to stay behind with the man she loves instead of leaving Middle Earth with her people for someplace far safer. She refuses to let go of love, even if it is the "easier" way out.

Sometimes, being strong doesn't mean chasing the bad guys. Sometimes, it means simply being brave, no matter what's going on around you. Sometimes it means being strong for others, even if we aren't the ones charging into battle against an army of orcs.

Doesn't it take more strength to heal than it does to hurt? 

Lucy Pevensie, from C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, was given a special healing cordial from Father Christmas. She uses this cordial to heal others, including her brother Edmund. Yes, Lucy uses a dagger when necessary, but she is primarily a healer, in my opinion.

It takes more strength to heal and mend than it does to hurt others. It takes more strength to help others than to tear them down. Women were designed by God to be nurturing, loving, and caring. These traits shine in healing. Why shouldn't the strong women of fiction do more healing, not just in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense? 

We need to see more women who are strong in character in the books we read.

When I think of a strong female character that is strong in character, I almost immediately think of DC Comic's Wonder Woman. Wait a minute, you may be saying. Isn't she one of those cliché strong women? And aren't you a Marvel Comics fan?* Well, yes, Wonder Woman does a whole lot of fighting, but what I love about Wonder Woman is that she has a strong character. She is full of compassion. She wants to help others. She stands strong in her beliefs, no matter what. She encourages the people around her. She is full of grace, and despite all of her fighting for justice, she is also gentle. Wonder Woman isn't just strong physically, but she is also strong in character. She's a great example of a strong female in fiction, in my opinion. Her character is something that girls can truly look up to!

*Yes, I am a HUGE Marvel Comics fan, but I have two exceptions to my I-don't-like-DC-that-much stance. Those two exceptions are the Flash (Grant Gustin's Flash, of course) and Wonder Woman. 

These are just a few ways that women in fiction can break free from our culture's fake version of strength and be truly strong. 

I've only scratched the surface of this subject with this post. There are so many different ways women can be strong without having to hurt others or be a ninja-warrior. Are there women that can beat up bad guys? Yes, there absolutely are. Is there anything wrong with having a female character who happens to be skilled in archery or swordplay? No, there isn't. But girls need to see more than just that in the women they look up to fiction. 

I hope you'll join me next week as I wrap up this series on strong female characters. 

What do you think? What are some other ways women can be strong? 

I'm Tired of "Strong" Female Characters Part Two ~ Three Tips On Crafting Strong Female Characters

Friday, June 22, 2018

Last week, I talked about why I'm tried of "strong" women characters and why we need truly strong women characters in this blog post. This week, I'm going to offer up three tips to help you craft truly strong women characters in your stories. Let's begin, shall we? =)
1. Let Her Be Feminine
Take a moment and think about some of the characters that fit the "strong" woman cliché. What is one thing that they all seem to have in common? Pretty much every single one of them is barely feminine. This doesn't mean that they don't just not like the color pink. This means that they are rough, fierce, sarcastic, etc. One could say that they are more masculine than feminine. All so that they can be "strong." 

Since when did actually being feminine become looked down upon? Since when did it make a woman weak? The message that all of these "strong" women are sending girls is that to be strong, you can't be feminine. And I'm just not talking about the difference between being a tomboy and being a girly-girl. I'm talking about almost everything that makes a woman a woman being viewed as weak. 
God created girls to be different than guys. Shouldn't this beautiful truth be celebrated in our stories instead of glossed over and tossed away? Why not celebrate the feminine aspects of women such as their gentleness and grace? Why not fill strong women with compassion and love? Why not let them find joy in serving in ways, such as cooking, helping with kids, and cleaning? Why not let them be women

The Take-Away: Your strong female characters are allowed to be feminine. Let them like girly things, have feminine pastimes, act feminine, etc. Let them be WOMEN.
2. Let Her Have Feelings
A message that I feel is promoted in YA fiction today is this: Ignore all of your feelings, and you'll be stronger.* This is a message that I believe girls around the globe are soaking up, and that is definitely not okay. Why can't a girl face her feelings and make wise decisions instead of ignoring them?  Girls are very, very emotional. Our emotions are a big deal! We need to see women in the stories we read handling how they feel the right way. 

In the Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series, Katniss Everdeen is notorious for shutting out her feelings or acting purely upon them, both of which have dire consequences for her and the people she loves. Both aren't healthy ways to deal with emotions. What would've truly made Katniss stronger would have been her facing her feelings and learning how to deal with everything she felt.** 

The Take-Away: Let your character have feelings. Don't turn her into a ninja-robot. Allow her to be able to confront her feelings and handle them in a healthy way.
*Either that, or let your feelings do the driving, but that discussion is for a different post... 
**I am by NO MEANS trying to hate on Katniss Everdeen (she's one of my favorite cliché strong woman characters). I'm just trying to make a point with someone whose way of dealing with her emotions drove me nuts. xD 
3. Let Her Need Others
Strong women are often applauded for not needing a man to save them, for being able to everything themselves. But what's wrong with being the damsel in distress every once in a while? Isn't it a mark of true strength to acknowledge that you can't do some things on your own and to accept the help of others? Why then should strong women not need help, from men (especially men) or other women? Why should having a man help a woman make that woman weak? 

Two strong women (or should I say girls?) in fiction are Susan and Lucy Pevensie of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. One of Queen Susan's gifts from Father Christmas in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, besides her bow and arrow, is a magic horn that can summon help when it's blown. In the films and the novels she uses it a few times when she and Lucy get into trouble. Does calling for help and receiving it make these queens of Narnia any less strong? Absolutely not! 

In reality, we can't do much of anything alone. We all need saving at times. Why should the strong women in our stories be able to do everything themselves and be strong on their own? To "empower" women? To prove a point? To promote feminism? If so, those are terrible excuses for making women in fiction weak in the name of strength.

The Take-Away: Your character doesn't have to do it alone. Let her be the damsel in distress every once in a while. It doesn't hurt to need saving every once in a while! Put your character in situations where she'll have to rely on others and/or work with them to achieve her goals. 

I hope that you will join me next week as I continue this series on strong women in fiction by offering my last (big!) tip on crafting a truly strong woman character. 

Which of these tips do you find the most helpful? Why do you think that strong woman characters aren't very feminine? Do you have any tips to offer? 

I'm Tired of "Strong" Female Characters Part One

Saturday, June 16, 2018

You know her. She’s got an athletic build and the uncanny ability to wield any weapon. Occasionally, there’s some superhuman power. More often than not, the title of savior/chosen one/leader/queen/princess/empress/insert-important-title-here is thrust upon her. She’s got a great distaste for anything pink, sparkly, or remotely girl (although she’s known to rock a dress when forced). Usually she’s got a handsome boyfriend that she ends up having to protect. And in the midst of it all, she’s keeping a bunch of secrets beneath her warrior-queen exterior.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the strong female character.

If you haven’t met her, then you obviously haven’t read a lot of YA fiction. She comes in many forms, such as the fantasy/sci-fi version I painted a picture of above. She can be found in pretty much every genre. She can be the main character, the secondary character, a background character… She’ll probably be there somewhere, if not in a book, then in a TV show or movie. And to be honest….

I’m tired of this “strong” female character cliché.

This is not to say that I don’t like some typical cliché strong female characters. In fact, they can be done very well. I'm thinking of memorable characters such as Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games and Parvin Blackwater of the A Time To Die series. But it seems to me that we have begun to define strong women by physical strengths, talents, and powers, their boyfriends and multiple love interests, their positions of power, their ability to go it alone, a hatred (or at least some form of dislike) of all things feminine… The list goes on.

Why does a girl have to be a warrior-queen to be strong?

I know lots of strong women, and none of them are half ninja. They find their strengths in places other than their looks and their ability to beat up boys and lead rebel nations. Strength, in our culture, has become more of a physical attribute than anything else. Strength is defined by how you carry yourself, how athletic and muscular you are, how intimidating you are... The list goes on. But the strength that these strong female characters have isn't true strength. 

True strength doesn't come from being a rebel leader or wielding a bow and arrow. 

True strength is something that comes from within, not from the outside. True strength isn't ignoring your feelings, it's confronting them. True strength is finding the courage to do what's right. It's staying strong though all life throws at you. True strength comes from faith in God. True strength is something that female characters in YA fiction desperately need.

I want girls to know that their strength doesn't come their fists. 

I want them to have real strength, not the fake version that has been offered up to all of us in today's movies, books, and TV shows. I want them to be inspired to be truly strong by the stories I write. Fellow writers, we get the privilege to change this cliché and inspire girls to become truly strong women though our stories. We get to do more than just entertain with the stories we spin. We get to inspire. We get to motivate. We get to encourage. What an awesome privilege that is, am I right?

Next week, I hope that you'll join me for part two of this series as I offer some tips on how you can make the female characters in your writing truly strong. 

What are your thoughts on strong female characters? What do you think is true strength? Who is your favorite character that falls into the "strong woman" cliché? 

FLASH FICTION DASH 2018: The Day We Say Goodbye

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Today I'm excited to be participating in the Penprints Flash Fiction Dash, hosted by Rosalie Valentine of Penprints. I was super excited to receive my prompt from Rosalie, and when I did, I was even more excited to write about it! You can see the prompt and read my flash fiction piece titled "The Day We Say Goodbye" below. I had a lot of fun writing it and hope that you all enjoy reading it. Happy reading! =)
Note: I only loosely based the piece below on the photo, so not all of the details will line up perfectly. Bear with me, okay?I got a little carried away. xD

The sky doesn’t seem to know that this is the day we say goodbye. It beams at me, sunlight smiling, clouds as fluffy as cotton candy, the color blue so blinding it hurts. I wish that today could be a grey day. I wish that the sky would cry with me.

But it doesn’t. And according to the weather app on my phone, it won’t. 

I play with the camera Ben got me for Christmas. I think of all the pictures we took on it, all of the memories that it holds. I don’t look through those pictures right now. I couldn’t bear it if I did. I’m waiting for Ben. Waiting to say goodbye. Waiting for him to leave San Francisco for college in Philadelphia.

The waiting might be the worst part.

An older lady hustles by me, nodding in my direction. I fake a smile at her. But then it’s back to the camera and back to waiting. I look at my phone at least ten times before I see him. His dirty blonde mop of hair shoved under a Chicago Cubs baseball cap gives him away in the crowd. He smiles when he sees me. Waves even.

“Hey there, Lilly.” And for a moment, just a moment, I let myself think that this isn’t the last time I’ll see Ben Jamison.

But then his smile fades and he tugs on his backpack straps and we both remember.

“So…” Ben says, looking down at his worn Nikes.

“So.” I wish I could say more. I wish that I could tell him everything that I’m thinking and feeling right now. I wish that he could stay.

“How was your day?”

How was my day? His train leaves in ten minutes and he wants to know how my day went. I almost want to hit him, but I won’t let me hitting him or crying be his last memory of me.

“It was good,” I say lamely, staring at Ben as if I have to memorize every detail about him before he leaves. As if I don’t have the hundreds of pictures. “How was your day?”

He shrugs. “Okay. Adrian gave me a box of Pop-Tarts for the train ride.” Our friend Adrian is obsessed with Pop-Tarts. Like, eat-a-box-once-a-day obsessed. His girlfriend Raleigh can’t stand it. I can’t help but laugh at the thought of Adrian sacrificing a box for Ben.

But a little laughing doesn’t change today.

Ben seems to realize this too. He lowers himself onto the bench next to me, mesmerized by the trains already leaving. “You know, I’m going to miss you a lot.”

I try to smile, but I’m afraid that it’s more like a grimace. “I’m going to miss you too.” I really want to say that I’ll miss the sound of his laugh and the way he’s always messing with his hair because it’s constantly in his face and the fact that he’s always taking pictures of something. I want to say that I’ll miss going to get ice cream and roaming San Francisco during the day and—

Ben interrupts my panicked thoughts. “Don’t try to be okay.”

I wish that my coat could swallow me up. “Okay? What do you mean, don’t try to be okay? You’re the one who started the whole okay thing, you big, you big…” I can’t get the word jerk out before I start crying.

Because the whole world revels in my pain, a loudspeaker announces that Ben’s train will be arriving in five minutes. Five minutes. The tears come down even harder.

So much for not crying.

Ben pulls me in for a hug, pats my back. I sniffle against his coat, inhale his scent of too much cheap cologne. “I wish you didn’t have to go.”

“Me too,” he says softly. “Me too.”

And then he lets me go and starts rummaging through his backpack. I rub at my eyes, willing them to save the rest of the show until Ben is on his train and I’m safely in my room with a lifetime supply of tissues and desserts.

“I got something for you,” he says.

I make myself smile. “You didn’t have to.”

Ben hands me a package wrapped up in newspaper. “Yes, I did. Now hurry up and open it, before my train comes.”

Curious, I start peeling back the newspaper. And that’s when I see it. A gorgeous leather notebook, tied with a turquoise bow.

Ben starts talking as soon as my gaze rests on it. “My dad makes them, and he sent one for me to give to you before I go.” He takes his Cubs cap off, ruffles his hair.

“It’s beautiful.” I look up and tuck my black hair behind my ear. “I love it. Thank you.”

Ben sticks his cap back on and opens his mouth to say something, but is interrupted by a train pulling into a station.

My heart sinks and my grip on the notebook tightens. The loudspeaker grinds out its most terrible announcement. Ben stands, hoists his backpack onto his shoulders. “I guess it’s time.”

I stand too. “I guess.” Do. Not. Cry.

He pulls me in for one last hug, and it’s so quick because the train has pulled in and the doors have creaked open. I waffle between trying-not-to-cry and wanting-to-cry.

“Goodbye, Lilly,” he says against my hair. Then, he lets go. Steps back. Waves. “Don’t forget me, Lilly Mae!”

“I won’t!” I yell back. I can see his weak smile from here. One more wave, and he’s on the train. The doors shut. The whistle blows.

I hug myself and watch as the train pulls away.


I wave as it fades into the distance. But I don’t say goodbye. Because I know, deep down, that this isn’t it. Even though it hurts now, it’ll all be okay. One day.

So instead, I whisper, “See you soon.”

Have you ever participated in the Flash Fiction Dash? Do you like writing flash fiction? Let's chat, friends! =D 

The Get to Know Me Tag: Writer's Edition

Friday, June 1, 2018

It's time for a tag! And not just any tag... It's the Get to Know Me Tag: Writer's Edition, created by my friend Savannah @ Inspiring Writes. Thank you for letting me steal this tag, True! =) I've been wanting to do this for a long time and am so excited! Before we jump into the fun, we have some rules... 

The Rules
- link back to the person who created the tag - 
- thank the person who tagged you - 
- share the tag graphic (I kinda made my own... *hides face*)- 
- tag eleven bloggers (this rule might be broken xD) -
Vital Stats And Appearance

Name: Micaiah Saldaña

Nicknames: My dad will sometimes call me Caiah, but that's about it.

Birthday: March 3rd.

Righty or lefty: Righty.

Ethnicity: Half Mexican, a quarter Filipino, and a quarter white. =)

And for the questions I skipped... *points to above photo*

First novel written: I'm going to go with Light in the Dark here, a serial I posted on my old blog. It just.... Never got finished. Ever. And I don't know if I want to go back and see all the messiness. xD 

First novel completed: Runaway was my first "novel" that I finished, but since that's in a notebook I don't know the exact word count. I still refer to it as my first novel though. xD

First award for writing: I got a second place award in Tessa Emily Hall's Monday's Minute Challenge. It was small, but I was so excited and kept sending in pieces. I ended up getting first place a couple times after I started honing my skills. *flexes writing muscles* xD

First publication: First publication... I had a few articles published in PURSUE magazine (check out the new issue here!), but my first piece of fiction to be published will be my short story Dear Jamie, Love Rory. And guys. IT COMES OUT NEXT MONTH!!!!

I hope to see you all here at Notebooks and Novels on July 19th, which is Dear Jamie, Love Rory's release date and the kick off day for a blog party I'm planning to celebrate its release! =D 

First conference: I haven't attended any writing conferences yet, but I am working towards a trip to an ACFW conference. =D

First query/pitch: Nothing here either.... YET. ;)


Novel (that you wrote): Ummm..... The one I'm working on now. Currently it's in the idea/brainstorm/find-an-actual-plot stage, but I'm calling it Where Has the Sun Gone right now. I already love it!

Genre: I've dabbled everywhere and it is SO HARD TO CHOOSE. Can I just say anything that falls under the YA Christian umbrella? Yes? Thank you. =)


Writing Music: Anything Fleurie and Ruelle, although I listened to a lot of alternative/folk-style music for Dear Jamie, Love Rory.

Time To Write: At night before I go to bed. Like right now. *innocent whistling*

Writing Snack/Drink: Salted caramel hot chocolate and anything sweet/baked/bad for me. Lately I've been making Nutella strawberry sandwiches and eating Sour Patch Kids. SO GOOD.

Movie: Ummmm...... Every Marvel movie ever made? xD To be honest, if I could only pick one movie, it'd be Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version). That movie.... <3 <3 <3

Writing Memory: It's a tie between seeing an email saying that I won One Teen Story's writing contest and having my mentor Tessa Emily Hall come to lunch at my house. <3

Childhood Book: AGAIN I CANNOT PICK. I loved reading as a little kid as much as I do now, so it's nearly impossible to pick a favorite out of everything I read. But if I have to pick, it'd be the Chronicles of Narnia and The Jesus Storybook Bible. My dad read them aloud to my sisters and I when we were little, and I have such fond memories of them. Besides, they're books I still enjoy today. =)


Reading: Porch Swing Girl by Taylor Bennet (see my interview with her here). It's so good! <3

Writing: A story about selkies, a rogue Fae, an English earl, a boy who tells the best stories, and a girl with eyes the color of the Sea. I plan on sending it to Spring Song Press this month. =) I'm also brainstorming THE STORY. We shall see where all that thinking goes. =) I know for sure that it'll have lots of dessert.... xD

^^^^Lots of desserts like this. <3

Listening to: Lots and lots of dreamy Fleurie music. Have I mentioned that it's the best? AND HER NEW MUSIC VIDEO OH MY WORD. Click here to be amazed, and to have a great new song stuck in your head.

Watching: I'm excited to watch The Flash season 4 (it's now on Netflix!) and am also hoping to rewatch Downton Abbey, my favorite tv show.

Learning: That new isn't always terrible or scary and that it's okay to take what feels like forever searching for and writing the story of your heart.


Want To Be Published: YES YES YES YES. I would love to publish a novel of mine one day! =D

Indie or Traditional: Both. I think it would be fun to publish a novella indie style and publish a novel traditionally. =)

^^^^Aren't inspirational quotes the best?

Wildest Goal: To write a timeless classic that would be ranked alongside the works of Dickens, Austen, Brontë, and other greats, and for it to be as heartbreaking and touching as Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love. A girl can dream, right?

I Tag...

Anyone who loves Pride and Prejudice, ice cream, Downton Abbey, and salted caramel hot chocolate. Also, we could totally be best friends if you love all of that stuff. Think of all the binge watching and junk food.....

Do you like Downton Abbey? What is one of your wildest goals/dreams? Have you listened to "Constellate"? What is one of your favorite desserts? Let's chat, friends! =) 

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