Pam Stevens - The Reluctant Courier

Makings of a Compelling Female Protagonist – 5 Things of Note

From Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) – or her now more commonly known antihero-of-a-counterpart Lucy Gray Baird (Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes), or Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) to Dorothy (Wizard of Oz), female protagonists can make or break a story. That’s only a fraction of the power they wield in literary/cinematic world-building.

Pick up any book of your liking (or choose a movie) – there’s a woman either behind the scenes or center stage playing one role or the other. Some writers write great female characters; however, others fail to impress. But almost all compelling female protagonists have a few things in common.

Here Are Five Things Of Note.

01.  She Doesn’t Sit Still, Look Pretty

A strong, independent female lead doesn’t need to be the damsel in distress, waiting to be rescued. Powerful women do not sit around waiting for things to happen – they make them happen. That’s right – there is no sitting still and looking pretty because women aren’t specimens in a museum.

Good writers make sure that their female characters grow with every page. You see them learning from their mistakes, adapting to their surroundings, and becoming a better version of themselves. Where does a woman get her power from? In the way she overcomes her challenges, and how she catalyzes her own story and is not a passive observer.

She doesn’t need to be pretty, either. But remember, true beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder – or reader.

02.  Lazy, Loud, Loving – There is No Stopping Her!

Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling – these are some of the smartest, funniest people out there in Hollywood right now. Guess what they all have in common?

They are women!

Be it a book or something for the big screen, it is generally assumed that the straight man is the comic relief you should look out for – because God forbid a woman takes on the mantle! She can’t be lazy, loud, and loving at the same time! Or can she?

To their recipe of to-die-for-female-lead, good authors add all sorts of ingredients: clever, amusing, eccentric, weird, crude, pretty, sweet – it doesn’t end!

The best female leads are those written with no qualms whatsoever about conventional tropes we are all used to – and aren’t they always a pleasant surprise?

03. She Is Human – You Read That Right!

Battle of the sexes up ahead, sorry.

Most men who write female characters miss out on the nuances only a woman can assimilate into writing. A good female character is more human than readers give credit. For example, did you know that Angelina Jolie’s all-business persona in Salt was originally intended for Tom Cruise to take off the launch pad? Can you picture him in all the action sequences and being able to pull off the emotional part in Salt? You can! But Jolie brings her own uniqueness to the role using her feminine gifts.

Let’s take the example of Sandra Stanford from the book The Reluctant Courier. Being tasked with a mission – that also from a dying man, the fate of the entire country hanging in the balance, anybody human would experience a multitude of emotions like fear or anxiety. In the book, however, Sandra is never afraid to embrace her emotional side – this doesn’t make her weak.

If anything, it stresses her resilience and strength.

04. She Is the Soul of the Story

Let’s face it – all characters provide a window into their writers’ lives. We see the strengths, the shortcomings, the obstacles, and the lessons learned bleed through the pages. Even when one person is writing all of the characters, each and every one is unique.

Of course, the protagonist always stands out, and the same can be said about a female protagonist; she is the soul of the story!

In The Reluctant Courier, the plot explores Sandra Stanford, but it also has to invest in the development of the other characters. However, reading through the book, you will see that the narrative expands and grows without veering off-topic. While everybody gets their 15 minutes (or more – you’ll have to read the book for an exact estimate!) Sandra still remains central to the narrative.

Reading such a protagonist is most natural. But it takes a good writer to pull off a book as multi-dimensional as this.

05. She Can Stand Tall On Her Own

A compelling female protagonist is independent and doesn’t need a man to help solidify her character or arc. Let’s shed some more light on Sandra’s character. In The Reluctant Courier, Sandra Stanford is her own woman. She is strong, brave, and bold. She stands out in even the dialogue – and it most certainly wouldn’t be wrong if we say she stands tall. All on her own.

But guess what? She doesn’t have to. And she doesn’t. And she is not afraid to do so. It is not at all a weakness for a female protagonist to rely on her male counterpart. In the book, we see Sandra and Steven bond and rely on their strengths. They bring out the best in each other – and that’s how their chemistry sizzles into accidental yet beautiful romance!

The result – zero egos bruised. Happy readers.

Women rule the world! Not just the world enclosed in the pages of a book or one you might go buy tickets for at the movies, but the real world. Who are these women? Let’s spare you the names, but there is one that needs to be mentioned: YOU! The women reading this blog. You rule your world. You are quite compelling as the protagonist of your own story, don’t you think? But boys, don’t feel so bad. You rock, too.

So, when writing your own female protagonist, be sure to think of yourself as an example or someone who inspires you. With Women’s Day on its way, you are all set to come up with a perfectly written character. Treat yourself to The Reluctant Courier, a murder-mystery-romance novel that is bound to make your list of best books read ever! This is a powerful debut – and there is more to come. The book is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and leading publishing platforms.

What did you think? Is there a characteristic of a female protagonist you would like to share? Have your say in the comments below. While you’re at it, be sure to bring people over here you know could use these pointers.

Happy reading and writing! Or watching! Stay sharp.