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This Isn’t “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”

August 13, 2010

Alert: You are about to enter a messy post. Watch your footing.

I almost always have trouble figuring out what to blog about, but then I’m hit by some random thought (in this case: Jeez, how annoying was that girl in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?“), and there we are: A blog post idea.

We all know the eighties (and before, actually) weren’t exactly the time of strong women portrayed in movies and television. There were some good ones, like Laura in “Remington Steele,” but even she had her moments. There were a lot of “throwaway women” – women who didn’t have much substance, who weren’t really developed into strong, independent characters. Being in love does not make you a slave to the person you’re in love with.

Anyway, one female lead that irritated me from the start was the blond gal (I really can’t remember her name) in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” She wasn’t simply annoying and pettish, she was dull. And, of course, you can’t thinking about “The Temple of Doom” without thinking about the totally annoying kid sidekick. (Many sequels fall under the annoying sidekick curse.) A friend of mine said, “There seems to be a trend towards unsupportive and rather annoying best friends in YA literature” in her book review the other day, and it suddenly struck me that she was completely right. They could be funny or silly, but there wasn’t anything to them.

So, I’m here to say that this isn’t “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” We are past this, people. We can and should create strong female leads that don’t view men as idols, that aren’t complete slaves to their rampant emotions. Girls that manage to be codependent, can work well with a guy, but can stand alone as well – maybe a bit heartsick, but not thinking “holy-crow-the-world-is-ending-I-think-I-have-to-stop-breathing” (see: New Moon) for months on end.

Authors have been trying to nail this sort of character. Sometimes the character you’re looking for is shallow or rather cold (as my MC in my next WIP kind of is). If that’s the your intention, then great job. Do what you set out to do.

I think that far too often, the girls are extremes of some sort. Drama Queens verging on the totally ridiculous, or cold-hearted, unfeeling people. Being cold-hearted doesn’t make you strong. It makes you lonely. There’s a happy medium, where you’ll find the girl that cries on occasion and can love people, but also knows how to stand up for herself, speak her mind, and cultivate her talents and knowledge base. A hardy person. Take Evie from Paranormalcy, Clary and Tessa from Cassie Clare’s books, and Macy from The Truth About Forever for examples. Notice that all of these characters are in some of my favorite books. That’s because you can admire them, respect them, and ultimately want to be their friend.

As I said, sometimes you’re intention is to have one of the extreme characters. Grey (who used to be named Erin, but I like Grey better) in my to-be-written book, Forbidden, is rather sour. She’s not one of the cheeriest, nicest people, but she’s not going to go out there and be mean for no reason. She does have plausible cause for her attitude, but it’s going to be my job to help her grow into a better, hardier person.

My point: Create strong, feeling, female leads that people will respect. They don’t have to be gosh-darned wonderful from the start, but we read books expecting character growth, and we ought to respect and admire the characters that come out on the other end.

I know I kind of lost myself in the female leads topic and left out the sidekick bit, so I’ll sum that up as quickly as possible.

Don’t put a character in the book for no reason. And definitely not a character that will get on people’s nerves.

So, again, substance. Depth. Cut characters from your book that don’t lend a hand to the story, because more likely than not, they’re standing in your way if they’re not helping you out.

What do you think makes a strong female lead? What do you like to see in characters when a book is through? What are some sidekick characters that have annoyed you?

Psst! I’m giving away a pre-order of Paranormalcy! Click here.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Torrie permalink
    August 13, 2010 11:16 PM

    I couldn’t agree more. Especially about how, even in romance, the female lead needs to be a person on her own. The female lead in my current WIP is a bit cold as well, but I’d rather have her cold than whiney and intolerable. Oh, and the female character in the third Indy Jones name is Willy, and the little Asian sidekicks name is Short Round.

  2. August 13, 2010 11:58 AM

    Very good points (and I couldn’t stand that blonde chick either)!

    • August 13, 2010 11:59 AM

      I think one problem with her was the screaming. It nearly became necessary to turn down the volume just to avoid the surprise eardrum attacks. 😀

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