In my new series, I Am Just Junco, my main character is Junco, a nineteen year old girl who’s been trained by her country to be an assassin. She’s got mad, kick-ass skills, but she also has some not-so-kick-ass skills that come in handy in a stressful situation. She’s not your typical strong female character (SFC).
We all know the stereotypical SFC, right? Katniss, from The Hunger Games – I’m sure she’s on all the lists for her archery skill and perseverance. Wonder Woman, she’s got that invisible jet and those awesome ricochet bracelets. And Lisbeth Salander from the Dragon tattoo series, since she’s about as tenacious and creative as they come, especially in her revenge schemes.
But strong characters should be about more than violence and ass-kicking. And strong female characters really need to round out their resume to make it on my list. So may I present J. A. Huss’ Top Ten Attributes of Strong Female Characters:
10. Listening Skills – Men, especially military men like those Junco associates with, can be severely lacking in this area, but strong listening skills are a hallmark of a SFC.
9. Cooking skills – I know, not very PC, is it? But think about it – everyone has to eat, right? So why not be good at serving up one of life’s most pleasurable requirements? Luckily, Junco knows how to fish and hunt, so she can whip up a dinner on the fly no problem.
8. Knife throwing (or rock throwing in a pinch) – If you have no rifle, shotgun, or other projectile weapon, throwing things is your next best bet. It pretty much ensures you won’t have to resort to hand-to-hand combat and that’s always a good thing. Junco can stick a wild animal in the eye running full steam, it comes in handy, I swear.
7. Long nails – Let’s face it, in the absence of a knife, rock, or projectile weapon, your fingernails can really come in handy. The longer they are, the more potential for eye-poking. Junco could care less about fingernails, but in Fledge, the second book in the series, she does grow some pretty cool claws.
6. Colorful language – It doesn’t necessarily have to be foul or dirty, but colorful? Yes, that is required. I like a SFC who can express herself like a soldier. Or porn star. Junco’s nasty language is a point of contention both in and out of the books…but it’s a minor character flaw as far as she’s concerned.
5. A cool outfit – Ditto for PC stuff, right? I mean, we say we want our SFC to be judged on her skills and not her looks, but let’s face it – fashion is important to most women. A SFC doesn’t need to go overboard; it can be as simple as Wonder Woman’s bracelets and belt or Lisbeth’s leather jacket. But both ladies have something in common – they know how to accessorize. Junco prefers uniforms, but camo gear works well for her too.
4. A gentle side – Preferably when the hot guy steps into the scene. We like a foul mouth when she’s fighting, but there’s a time and a place, am I right? Junco’s only wish as a child was to grow up to be a housewife and mother…she never got her wish, but she still hopes for it.
3. Good manners – Yes, this is a must. A strong female character should absolutely thank her fellow ass-kicking soldier when he holds open the airlock for her. And if her favorite partner wants to step in and save her ass once in a while, tirades about how she could’ve done it herself are not necessary. Junco welcomes anyone who will put their ass on the line for her.
2. Brains – Not the kind that zombies crave, I’m talking street-smarts here. A strong female character should be able to change directions mid-scheme and not miss a beat. Dumb girls are not cool – even if they have a cool outfit that’s properly accessorized and they kick ass. Studying is something Junco always loved to do, right after weapons training.
1. Loyalty – this one little trait trumps all the others, so if our favorite SFC has this and nothing else, chances are we’ll still respect her. Loyalty drives the men nuts, too. And really, isn’t that why we all want to read about SFC in the first place? (I kid, I kid) Junco reserves total loyalty to just one person, but you’ll have to read the books to find out which character that is. 😉