Does Your Heroine Have to be a Badass? A Guest Post by Temple West

You may or may not know how much I adore Temple West. She wrote Velvet and Cashmere, has an awesome style, and is so adorably quirky, how could I not love her? Today, I am sharing a guest post written by her about the recent (tired) trend of the “strong female character.”


This is a question I’ve struggled with long before I knew or understood the word “feminism.” When I was a kid, the overused trope was the damsel in distress. Now it seems like the overused trope is the “strong female character.” But what, exactly, does strong mean?

Most of the time, it seems that it means she literally kicks ass. She does hand-to-hand combat or has crazy powerful magic or both.

And I’m all for that. Give me a spell-casting, physically skilled lady leader any day.

But…what about the women who…y’know, aren’t that? If you can’t sniper bad guys from a mile away, can you still be a heroine? What does “strong” mean if it doesn’t mean “physically or magically powerful?”I like to think that “strong female character” has more to do with character than it has to do with six-pack abs or military training. What does the character believe? Is she passionate about those beliefs? Is she convicted? Does she stick to her guns (whether literal or metaphorical)? Does she have a purpose, a plan, a sense of direction? I would much rather read a story about an extremely zealous cupcake baker than a story about a sort of ambiguously powerful and murkily-motivated assassin.

At the end of the day, it’s about creating dynamic, fully-fleshed, complicated women characters. They can be knights or single moms, or both (or neither).

So does your heroine have to be a badass to be a “strong female character?” Yes. But you determine what kind of badass she gets to be.


Thanks, Temple! I happen to agree, even though I do sometimes use the trope in my own stories. I also used “The Chosen One” trope in The Belgrave Legacy, so trope doesn’t automatically mean bad. I think the important part is understanding it’s a trope, trying to make it interesting, or better yet, finding a way to write without using it.

What do you think? Sound off below!

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