What Makes a Strong Kickass Heroine? by Jaleta Clegg


Enjoy this guest post by Author Jaleta Clegg. She explains how to make your characters distinct from one another. Enjoy!


Which is stronger – vinegar or chili peppers? That depends on how you use them and how you define strong. I use cooking analogies because I know cooking. No, it isn’t going to win a fistfight, but I could cook you under the table, especially if the contest involved baking cookies or using weird vegetables.

It’s the same with my characters. Strength is a relative term. I try to make all my characters distinct, with their own failings and triumphs. If a character is weak in the story, it’s deliberate. Not everyone can be powerful.

My first book, Nexus Point, introduced Dace. She’s short, scrawny, and tougher than old shoe leather. Or so she wants you to believe. She’s had a hard life. She has to fight for everything she wants – mostly to be left alone to fly her starship wherever her curiosity takes her. She armors herself against other people, which makes her appear strong in her isolation. But she’s a lonely person with a lot of baggage.

Book two, Priestess of the Eggstone, introduced Jasyn Pai. She’s drop-dead gorgeous in an exotic way. She’s a qualified, certified navigator. She’s got a thing for shoes and nail polish. She isn’t much of a fighter, but don’t ever, ever, ever make her angry or threaten her brother or her friends. She’ll find a way to make you pay.

Book three, Poisoned Pawn, pits the two of them against multiple enemies.

Each is strong in her own way. In many ways, Jasyn was the hardest for me to write. I’m not a girly person. Tomboy geek fits me much better. But writing from her viewpoint forced me to examine my own prejudices. I gained a lot more respect for the more feminine members of our gender. Jasyn isn’t afraid to get dirty, when necessary. She isn’t the one to charge headlong into battle, but she won’t stop Dace if someone needs shot. And when push comes to shove, Jasyn will do whatever is needed to protect those she loves. She will bend under pressure, but she won’t break. That by itself is an incredible feat of strength.

Jasyn lets her emotions show. Dace doesn’t. We tend to equate stoicism and lack of emotion with strength, but if you bottle up your feelings, does it make you stronger or does it make you more easily broken?

Strength is in your definition. Whether solid as a rock or resilient as a tree, both are strong women. They do what needs to be done. They stand up for what they believe is right and good. They protect those they love. And then they bake cookies.


jaletacleggmedJaleta Clegg wants to be Han Solo when she grows up. Or Ursula the Sea-Witch. In the meantime, she writes science fiction adventures and silly horror stories. Her day job involves starship simulators, and inflatable planetarium, and lots of school children. She lives with a horde of her own children, the requisite writer’s cat (named Chunkalicious Rex), two dogs, three zombie frogs, and a very patient husband. Find links to her work at http://www.jaletac.com or http://www.altairanempire.com

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