I recently listened to a panel of successful female writers and editors, from the fantasy genre, discuss female protagonists. As a male writer, I found it an interesting discussion. Hoping for some insight on how to make my female characters deeper and more real, what actually was discussed was a distinct dissatisfaction across the panel that most female protagonists in the fantasy genre were kickass warriors.
Hmm. Isn’t that feminist’s equality? I asked myself.
Hold on a moment. Before you all start to go off on me as being a sexist, let me continue. Everyone, myself included, was in agreement that a kickass warrior was infinitely better than the pretty pitiful princess that needs rescuing. The question became, “What other journeys are there for a female protagonist in a fantasy story beside Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey’?” Campbell’s journey is by far the most popular and most recognized.
Most fantasy stories have a hero of some sort as the protagonist. It just the way things are in the genre. Maybe because the standard good vs evil convention leads itself in that direction. There has to be someone to vanquish evil or evil will destroy everything.
It made me wonder about other potential character arcs. What other female specific arcs are there? As a matter of fact, I cannot remember hearing of any other character arc being ‘named’, let alone documented. What can I say, I’ve led a sheltered life. Shouldn’t any arc that you can find in literature be used in fantasy?
What other “journeys” are you aware of? Have they been documented in detail somewhere? What have you used? Have kickass female warriors become merely a cliché? Boy, I hope not! It’s hard to beat a story about a woman who goes around kicking ass and taking names.