Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Does a Female Protagonist Need to be Likable?

Recently I sent my book, The Art of Stealing out to an agent. Although she said she found it well-written and an enjoyable read, she was going to pass on it because the main character,Valentina, wasn't always likable. To which I thought...who is?

Literature has shown that flawed characters are much more intriguing and last longer in our memories. So what exactly was her issue? When Blanche DuBois enters the stage, the scenery practically catches fire from the electric currents she casually beams out toward anyone within her radius. She's a train wreck and we hold our breath in anticipation as she self-immolates.

The lead character, Karen Bixen, in Out of Africa, is based on author Isak Dinesen's years running a coffee plantation in Africa. She is complex, intriguing and so unlike the other white women of her upper class status that she is looked upon with great distaste by her peers. She views them the same way with little care about winning them over. Those of you who are unfamiliar with the book's character or the steely portrayal of her by Meryl Streep, do yourselves a favor and check it out.

If anyone is a fan of Shonda Rhimes, then they know she mostly writes outrageous female characters that pull off all kinds of crazy, raising the stakes with each successive week: Meredith Grey--self-described as dark and twisty
Olivia Pope--claiming to wear a white hat who isn't above taking part in a murder plot or deceiving the entire continent of North America to save her wussy lover from political doom,  Annalise Keating--possibly the most bizarre, practically bi-polar type character to ever bloom from the fertile mind of Ms. Rhimes who defies the law with aplomb even though she is a principal of the court.  And speaking of bi-polar? Carrie Mathison, anyone? Enough said.

These women are strong and unerringly put their own needs first.

Sounds like a flaw whose time has come. 

So I'm going to take another hard look at my female protagonist, Esmeralda,  in the book I am currently writing and I think I'm going to get her crazy on. 'Cause I'll take moxie over mousy any day. 

Flaws can be beautiful too.

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