The Hero Inside Every Woman
By Diane Lynn McGyver
Let’s first set the stage: I grew up in a house with seven brothers and two sisters; all but one sibling was older than me. I gravitated towards the boys because they did more enjoyable things—fishing, camping, go-carts, hiking, swimming—than the girls—knitting, dishes, laundry, house-cleaning, baking. Boys also played Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers and various other games where at least one of the cast starred as the hero.
Being a tomboy, rough and tough like my brothers, I took turns at portraying the good guys and the bad guys. This gave me the opportunity to envision what both sides of the conflict experienced, and as it turned out, it was a great help when I later constructed characters—both hero and villain—in my stories.
But what it really taught me was a girl could be a hero, too. Unlike being a helpless princess in a silly fairy tale, I could be the Lone Ranger or Tonto, Spiderman, Captain Kidd or Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest…or some made-up, female version of these heroes. I could take control and win the day!
It took me a while to translate ‘women can be heroes’ into making my heroes female. Up until about a dozen years ago, I still wrote stories with men leading the way. In my mind I was still the hero, and he was still male.
Then it dawned on me; if I could hike miles with a heavy pack on my back, shoot a bow and arrow, catch more fish than the guys in the boat, swing from a rope and take on challenges that tested my strength and courage, why couldn’t a female in one of my stories? Why couldn’t they be as tough as I?
And so, I began writing strong female characters, ones who didn’t need to be saved by the leading man. Male heroes still populated my stories, but they were balanced by females who were equally brave and equally qualified to save the day.
In the first draft of Shadows in the Stone, the leading female character, Alaura of Niamh, was literally the damsel in distress. She couldn’t save herself, didn’t have anything important to say and was there simply for the enjoyment of the leading male character. He was nice to her, of course, but she had little control of what she did or who she was. She was powerless.
After realizing Alaura’s pitiful state, I injected courage, wisdom and strength into her character. The woman who took shape not only defended herself, but saved the leading man a few times when his strength failed. They became a team, a duo, the way a true partnership should be.
The interesting twist to this story is that once I transformed the helpless damsel into a courageous female, the male character improved as well. He no longer had to manage every challenge single-handedly, do all the thinking or run around saving the female. His character became more complex as he dealt with the plot and his partner in the journey. This new man was more likable, as was the female because she was no longer flawed with constant helplessness.
Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, ages…and both sexes. Now that I know this, my writing is a reflection of this knowledge.
Do you know any strong female heroes? If you're female, have these characters empowered you in your own life?
About Author Diane Lynn Tibert McGyver
Diane Lynn Tibert McGyver has been writing for as long as she can remember. She and her elementary friend, Beverly Davis, had filled several Camp Fire notebooks with plays and then tried to recruit friends to act them out. Her love of story-telling continued into her teen years.
In the late 1990s, she began submitting her writing for publication. The acceptance of an article in a gardening magazine told her that readers were interested in what she had to write.
Fourteen years and hundreds of publications later, she returned to her favourite form of writing: story-telling. Her first fantasy novel, Shadows in the Stone, was released in May 2012. The second book in the series, Scattered Stones, is scheduled for November.
Shadows in the Stone by Diane Lynn McGyver
Things aren’t always what they seem to be in a small town in the Land of Ath-o’Lea. Magic creeps in the shadows, waiting to pounce...
Corporal Bronwyn Darrow vows he’ll never fall victim to love again after the woman he adored betrays him. He directs his energies to rising in the ranks of Aruam Castle, aspiring to one day command as captain of the guards. Although he treasures his home and family, he is blinded both by his desire to succeed and a mysterious magic lurking in the shadows of the ancient castle.
Alaura of Niamh, a half-breed enchantress with a deadly past, takes refuge in Bronwyn’s hometown. When the two meet, the spell which binds them is stronger than their fears of falling in love.
As Alaura’s secrets threaten to separate them forever, outside forces attempt to shatter the security of Aruam Castle and eliminate Bronwyn. When an orphan weaves their lives together, they embark on a journey destined to either destroy or deliver them to the passion burning in their hearts.