Monday, April 26, 2010

Women in Urban Fantasy

Women protagonists are a huge trend in urban fantasy literature. Most all of them are bad ass, wise ass, kick ass women who don't wait for the men to come riding in on their white horses. More often than not, it's the woman riding in to rescue the man.

My critique and writing buddy has told, whenever I'm bouncing ideas off her, that Jacky is too passive. That things happen to her, but she doesn't really do anything for herself. Last night, I finished a book by an author I truly enjoy, who writers female protagonists, but now, I'm sure she writes strong women.

For example, the main character was ambushed by the evil villains and taken far from anyplace where people could get to her, rescue her. The evil villains tortured her, and finally, the men come riding in to the rescue. The thing that bothered me is that in her purse, which the evil villains had conveniently taken with them, were the means for her to save herself. But she didn't even try. She just laid there and let them do horrible things to her, waiting for someone to come save her.

In so many books written by this author, the main character has changed, as characters will. However, I think in that one crucial point, she missed a big chance for a huge change. This character has always relied on others to help her fight her battles, has always waited for others to come save her. Except for one memorable book where she did the saving all by herself. By not trying to save herself, with her purse there in the same room with her and her torturers, by letting them do really awful things to her, the author placed this character in a position for personal conflict. How is she going to deal with recovering? How is she going to cope surviving something so horrible?

Yeah, okay, that's all well and good, but honestly? I find it disappointing. Because that's what happens to her all the time. For once, I want to see her crawl over to the life saving purse and kick some ass. I want her conflict to be something other than coping. It'd be nice to see this character realize she's stronger than she thinks she is, that she doesn't have to wait for her knight in shining armor to come save her every time she's in trouble.

Jacky, you and me girl. We've got some growing to do, and some bad spots to get into. But most of all, we've got some learning to do. We're going to learn how to be stronger.

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