Printable Christmas Roll-A-Story Game

Have you ever played a roll-a-story game? I recently discovered these fun games when my Mom found and printed a Christmas themed one for my siblings and me. We all had so much fun writing short stories using it! In fact, we enjoyed ourselves so much that I thought it would be fun to share a Christmas themed roll-a-story of my own making with you all. To play my Roll-A-Story: Christmas Edition game, download the printable game below and follow the instructions listed. 

What You’ll Need

  • My Roll-A-Story: Christmas Edition Printable
  • A Die
  • Some Friends and Family (or you can play this by yourself!)
  • Writing supplies (computers, notebooks, pencils, typewriters…)

How To Play The Game

O N E : Print out the Roll-A-Story: Christmas Edition game. 

T W O : Grab a die and some friends.

T H R E E : Take turns rolling the die. The first roll determines the setting of your story. The second roll determines its main character, and the third roll determines the sticky situation your character finds himself in. For example, if I rolled a one during my first roll, my setting would be a Christmas tree farm. If my second roll was a six, my main character would be Jack Frost. If my last roll was a four, the sticky situation that Jack Frost would find himself in would be that he accidentally knocks a Christmas tree over. 

F O U R : Now for the most fun part: Writing the stories! It’s time for everyone to grab a pencil and paper (typewriters are always welcome, of course) and start scribbling! Sticking with the setting, character, and situation you rolled, it’s up to you to craft a fun short story. Here’s a sample synopsis of what a short story with the roll I made up in step three could look like…

During his seasonal visit to a Christmas tree farm, Jack Frost accidentally knocks over the Christmas tree of a family who hasn’t been able to afford one in the past. Feeling guilty, he tries to make up for the family’s loss by getting them one adorned with icy ornaments. Seeing the children’s joy at receiving the gift, and the wonder in their eyes at its beauty, he is inspired to spread Christmas magic throughout the world. 

Your story can be serious, heartfelt, goofy, or just plain nonsense. It’s your story. Have fun with it! For extra fun and a writing frenzy, set a timer (this is completely optional). The stories have to be finished when the timer rings! 

F I V E : Now it’s time to share your stories! There are no winners or losers in this game. The point is to challenge yourself to think creatively and to have fun writing and sharing a short story. 

I would love to see the stories you create with this fun game! Send your creations to me through my contact page OR tag me in an Instagram post featuring your story during the days leading up to Christmas, and your story could be featured on my Instagram account @micaiahsaldana. 

Have you ever played a roll-a-story game? Will you play this one?

Project Canvas Blog Tour

Project Canvas Blog Tour
Project Canvas is almost here! *cue the epic music, confetti, and mounds of cake* This exciting international project is jam-packed with writerly advice, encouragement, and lots more amazingness. And guess what? It’s going to be released to the world on November 15! So many epic people contributed to this book–61 in total (including me)! Altogether, we’re from eleven different countries and six different continents. And we have all come together to make Project Canvas. I am SO EXCITED for this book to go out into the world! ❤ Read on to learn more about Project Canvas, the amazing founders, and other fun stuff. =D 
About the Book

An international writing community. 61 authors. 11 countries. 6 continents.

Are you looking for advice on how to create the perfect villain? Do you need the courage to put your story down on paper? Find this and more in Project Canvas, a writing resource written completely by teen and young adult writers and compiled by Caroline Meek and Olivia Rogers.

Project Canvas includes:

· 71 short chapters, each written by a different author

· bonus interviews with authors such as Tessa Emily Hall and Q. Gibson

· world building and character development worksheets

· and other helpful resources!

“This is a writing teacher’s dream – not a how-to book, but more of a literary testimony and homage to the process of writing. A sweet balance between the practical and the spiritual, Project Canvas is concise enough for daily meditation, yet robust enough to move the writer’s soul beyond the temporary.” –Brian Dolezal, professional development and spoken word coach at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science

About the Founders

Caroline and Olivia have been friends ever since kindergarten, when they met in a homeschooling group. Their writing journey was a slow evolution over the course of many sleepovers, games of pretend, writing stories together, and finally publishing some of them.

Caroline Meek is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Project Canvas. She’s originally from Kansas City, Kansas, where she co-authored The Drawing in of Breath and attended Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences. Caroline has a passion for bringing writers together and is currently studying English & Creative Writing on the Publishing track at the University of Iowa. She’s been published in The Kansas City Star, Ink Lit Mag, Wordsmith, and blogs at Of Stars and Ink-Stained Things.

Olivia Rogers is the co-founder of Project Canvas. She’s originally from the great state of Kansas, where she showed sheep, competitively debated, and also became involved in politics. Olivia believes that writing is the gateway to change. She’s currently studying Political Science and Philosophy at Kansas State University, with the goal of becoming a lawyer and continuing to advocate for others.

Other Fun Stuff… 

The fun doesn’t end with the release of this insanely amazing book. There’s also a giveaway!  Go to the giveaway post on the Project Canvas blog for a chance to win free copies of Project Canvas and more exciting goodies. =) Click here to visit the giveaway post.

And y’all, don’t forget to stop by the other amazing blogs on this tour! For a schedule of the blog tour, visit the Project Canvas blog (projectcanvasblog.blogspot.com). Also, there’s a super fun bookstagram challenge going on, and I think that I’m going to be joining in. Click here to see the blog tour schedule and check out the bookstagram challenge that Project Canvas is hosting! =)

Are you excited for this book’s release or what?! 
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to other writers? 

3 Tips On Writing A Novel With Multiple Points of View

3 Tips On Writing A Novel With Multiple Points of View
I’m very excited to continue talking about multiple points of view in fiction with you all today! In last week’s post, I talked about three important questions to ask yourself before adding another point of view to your novel (you can read that post by clicking this link here). Today, I’m sharing three tips on writing a novel with multiple points of view. Most of the projects that I’ve worked on have had at least two points of view in each, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned from reading and writing stories with multiple points of view! =) 
#1 Let your readers know when you’re switching between points of view. 
As I mentioned in my last post on multiple points of view, having more than one point of view can be confusing. Key words: Can be. It can be confusing if you don’t warn your readers when you’re switching between points of view. This is especially important to remember in first person narratives, when there is less use of the point of view character’s name. 
For example, there are multiple points of view in the second and third books of Sara Ella’s Unblemished trilogy. To keep everything less confusing, the author dedicates a chapter to each point of view and marks each chapter with the name of the point of view character. Imagine how confusing it would be if she skipped from one character’s journey to another, with just a pretty divider in between! 
The Take-Away: Don’t skip from points of view seamlessly, especially if you’re writing in first person. Make sure that your readers know when you move on to another point of view. 
#2 Don’t use too many points of view. 
Have you ever read a book with more than four points of view? I can’t think of single one, and there’s a reason for that. It can get confusing with lots of different points of view. It would be hard to balance each character’s part in the story equally, not to mention keep the readers interested in all of the characters and their separate journeys. Lots of point of view characters can be okay, but you’d have to be really careful as to not confuse your reader or lose her interest. 
The Take-Away: Try to limit how many point of view characters you use. 
#3 Make each point of view sound unique. 
This is a biggie! It’s not just the confusion aspect that is a problem here. If all of your characters are sarcastic and gloomy or cheery and full of rainbows and unicorns, they will all sound like one person. Having all of your characters sound the same won’t let them shine as the unique and memorable characters that you have created them to be! 
Instead of adding lots of snark to each point of view, think about your characters. What makes them special? What aspects of writing could best bring out their personalities? Lots of monologue, more action? After all, would sweet and innocent Sally really roll her eyes or whine on the pages? 
The Take-Away: Let your characters shine! Allow them to be their unique selves on the pages, and their voices will stand out as unique and memorable ones. 

 Does your novel have more than one point of view? And what is your favorite book that has multiple points of view? I’m all ears! =D 

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adding Another Point of View To Your Novel

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adding Another Point of View To Your Novel
Annnnnddddd I’m back. xD Apologies for the unplanned hiatus! Life has been a bit crazy, what with the start of my first draft of my novel (I AM SO EXCITED GUYS) and a whole lot of other exciting stuff (such as the fact that I finally got INSTAGRAM!!!!!). I am so happy to jump back into blogging. I’ve got lots of exciting things planned for you all, including more book reviews, photography, and details about my current WIP! =D 
But for now, let’s talk about points of view in novels. Specifically adding points of view to your novel. Is it good? Is it bad? The answer to both of those questions can’t be found until you ask yourself these three very important questions. 😉 

Will this work with the narrative voice I’ve chosen?
Other points of view just might not sound very good with the narrative voice you’ve chosen. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer having multiple POV stories in a third person omniscient narrative voice. For example, here’s a snippet of writing featuring two points of view in the first person narrative voice:
My heart hammered in my chest. I couldn’t believe it. What had he just said? “Say it again,” I breathed.
Timothy ran a hand through his hair and met my gaze. “I like you, Amber.” 
~~~
There. I had said it. I liked her. I looked down at my feet. I wouldn’t expect her to feel the same way, especially since I had lied to her about the letters, but still…. 

Is it just me or is that a tiny bit confusing? We skipped from Amber to Timothy SO quickly. It felt a little choppy, even with the “divider” signaling a change, and the voices didn’t sound very distinct. Let’s look at this same snippet in third person omniscient, shall we?
Amber’s heart hammered in her chest. She couldn’t believe it. What had he just said? “Say it again,” she breathed. 
Timothy ran a hand through his hair and met her gaze. “I like you Amber.” 
There. He had said it. He liked her. Timothy looked down at his feet. He wouldn’t expect her to feel the same way, especially since he had lied to her about the letters, but still… He could hope, right?
In this third person omniscient voice, it’s not only easier to add extra points of view, but it is also less confusing and has smoother transitions. This by no means goes to say that first person narratives with multiple points of view are bad (they can be done well!). I’m only bringing this up as something for y’all to consider. =) 

Will the other points of view weigh the story down and take away from it, or will they move the plot/theme/arcs/etc. along? 
Adding some extra points of view might not make your story better. Those extra points of view could weigh it down instead. For example, if I’m reading a story about a little girl named Lilly who’s buying ice cream from an ice cream truck, I don’t want to know what the ice cream truck driver or the boy riding his bicycle past her are thinking. I’m only concerned about Lilly getting her ice cream. Reading those other points of view would drag the story along and add a bunch of unneeded story. 
However, if the story was about Lilly and the boy riding his bicycle past her, it’s okay to include his point of view. Adding his point of view would help introduce him, move the plot along, and even help reinforce a theme, amongst other things. It would deepen the story and help the reader understand things that one couldn’t understand with just Lilly’s point of view. 
Will these extra points of view confuse my readers? 
Has anyone else ever read a book with what seemed to be only one point of view character, but then later, about halfway through the book…. There’s for some reason another one? And then you only hear from this POV for five pages? It can be confusing, y’all, trust me. Multiple points of view get confusing when there are too many of them or if they’re introduced too late in the novel, amongst other reasons. If you think that your extra points of view might be confusing to your readers, have another person look over your manuscript with this specific question in mind. 
I hope that you’ll join me next week as I share three tips on writing multiple POVs in your novel! =) 

Do you prefer novels with just one POV or multiple POVs? Do you have anything that you’d like to add to my thoughts? =) 

THREE ROMANCE CLICHES THAT DRIVE ME CRAZY

Ah, romance in YA. I’ve got a serious love-hate relationship with it. On one hand, all of the cute moments in YA romance that send me squealing into a pillow have me hungry for more. But on the other hand, one of the things that drives me crazy about YA romance is the sheer number of clichés I’ve read. Some of the clichés drive me crazier than others, and yet some I find myself asking for more of.*
Without further ado, here are three romance clichés that drive me crazy.

*I would like to note that I have seen instances in which these clichés were “freshened up” rather beautifully, but these cases are very rare for me personally. 
Insta-Love ❤

“And then their eyes met from across the room and they just knew that they were meant for each other…” It wouldn’t be entirely untruthful to nickname the cliché of “insta-love” as “Disney-love.” After all, nearly every Disney princess movie has moments of insta-love (although in Frozen, this cliché is flipped beautifully). 

Yes, attraction happens, but falling in love with someone in a matter of minutes is utterly ridiculous. 

This idea of “love at first sight” is not only unrealistic, but it also is super shallow (and not the smartest thing in real life, if you know what I mean). Who falls in love with someone after a glance from across a coffee shop or a quick conversation about the book you’re reading? How can you know it’s really love if all you know about the guy is that he has icy blue eyes and a baseball cap? 
Love Triangles ❤

Newsflash: LOVE TRIANGLES ARE KINDA DONE. If I have to pick up another book with a love triangle in it, I might cry. Yes, love triangles can be done well (it’s possible!), but honestly, we’ve seen it a thousand times before. Nothing seems to have changed. It’s so easy to figure out which guy the girl is going to pick! 
Not only are love triangles super predictable, but they add weak (unneeded!) tension to the plot. 
There have been books I’ve read that have love triangles in them just to have love triangles. The love triangle adds nothing substantial to the plot. In some cases, all of that unneeded baggage about which boy the main character is going to the dance with can take away from the story. I don’t want to know about Suzy’s inner turmoil about Eddie and Bob. I want to care about something more than the love triangle in a book and see something more original, something more real. 
Insecure Girl Meets Gorgeous Boy ❤

This cliché is so common it’s not even funny. We go from a main character thinking that nobody loves them to suddenly meeting their “true love” and then suddenly having extremely high self-esteem levels. In this cliché, characters feel worthless without their love interest. But when Prince Charming comes along, the mirror is no longer as harsh. The critics’ voices become muted. They’re happier. They’re content. They feel worth something, now that someone so wonderful loves them. 
This is cute, but isn’t this cliché teaching readers to find their worth in what others think of them? 

Instead of encouraging readers to find their worth in what the Lord thinks of them and the beautiful people He made them to be, this cliché teaches readers that their worth comes from having a Prince Charming to tell them how lovely they are. Truthfully, our worth comes from the God who created us and loves us more than we can imagine, not a tall, dark and handsome guy. 

What do you think? Do any of these clichés drive YOU crazy? Have you seen any examples of these three clichés that you liked? 

WHAT I LEARNED FROM WRITING DEAR JAMIE, LOVE RORY

I can’t believe that next week this fun little celebration for “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” will come to a close. It’s been so much fun celebrating with you all (and I’d just like to say THANK YOU for all of your sweet comments <3). But before the celebration ends, I’d like to share two things I learned from writing “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” with you all. 
The first thing I learned was that being afraid of failure (and letting that fear control you) can only lead to just that: failure. 
Here’s something I don’t tell anyone: At first, I wasn’t even going to enter One Teen Story. A couple years ago, I had written a story for them and ended up never sending it in. I was too afraid of losing, too embarrassed to think of others reading it. Yet I still wanted to enter someday. My fear of failure (which was fueled by plenty of self-doubt), however, kept me from doing so until One Teen Story‘s latest contest. 
About a week or so before the deadline, I told myself, “I’m just going to do this. If I lose, I lose, but at least I can finally say that I tried.” About three late-nighters, a few scrapped stories, and plenty of agonizing over everything, I sent “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” to One Teen Story

First picture ~ Grapes at a California Vineyard ~ Second Picture ~ Writing in the Redwoods

A couple months later, I received an email saying that my story was placed on a shortlist. I freaked out. A little while later, I got an email saying that “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” had won. I freaked out even more. 
Looking back at it now, if I had let my fear of failure keep me from sending my story in, I couldn’t be writing this now.  
I’m not going to lie: Failure is SCARY. It’s a crippling beast, but if you let your writerly fears rule you, you will never get the chance to reach your dreams and succeed. Being afraid of failure and letting that keeping you from taking risks can only lead to failure. Don’t be afraid. You CAN reach your goals and achieve your dreams. 
The second thing I learned was to write the story of my heart. 
In an interview with Patrick Ryan of One Story, I was asked what the best bit of writing advice was that I had received. My answer? Write the story of your heart. 
I’ve tried writing stories for others so much, that when it came time for me to throw together a story for this contest, I decided to finally let myself write the story of my heart. Once I let myself do that, my writing got better, and I began to fall in love with this beautiful craft even more. 

Let yourself go wild on the pages. Write the story you want to see on bookshelves. Write what you love. Write the story of your heart, because the world needs your story.
The Giveaway…
Before I go, just in case you didn’t know… I’m hosting a giveaway! =D I’m giving away a signed copy of “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” AND a beautiful California sticker from Kulana Stickers. Use the widget below to enter. The giveaway ends on August 9. =)

Click here to buy “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” on Kindle. 
Click here to subscribe to One Teen Story. 

What is one of your greatest writerly fears? 
What’s something you’ve learned about writing? 

I’m Tired of “Strong” Female Characters Part Four – The Wrap-Up

I almost can’t believe that this is the last part of my series on strong women in fiction! I’ve had a blast sharing my thoughts and tips and chatting about this topic with you all in the comments. Before I continue, here are the links to the rest of this series in case any of you would like to catch up. =)

The Rest of the Series…

I’d like to close this series not by offering any more tips or pointing out amazing strong female characters in fiction, but by challenging my fellow writers to craft truly strong women in their stories. 
We writers have the amazing ability to influence people through the words we write. We don’t just write our stories for enjoyment. We get to encourage people with our stories. We get to tell them truth. We get to inspire people. We get to show them what’s right and wrong. We get to tell stories that change people, that change the world.
We get this privilege… Let’s not abuse it. Let’s use it! 
My hope and prayer for all of my fellow writers is that God will guide them to write stories that will glorify him. I hope that those same stories can also help girls realize what it means to be a truly strong women of the Lord who don’t look to their abilities or positions of power for their strength, but to their Lord and Savior. 
Thank you so much for joining me during this series on strong women in fiction! Be sure to visit Notebooks and Novels again next week for a book review of Jenny Han’s novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Which of these posts was your favorite? Which was most helpful? Will you take on the challenge to write about strong female characters? 
P.S. Be sure to check out my article on PURSUE on friendships with the guys in your life! Click here to read 4 Tips For Having Great Friendships With Guys. 

I’m Tired of “Strong” Female Characters Part Three

Last week, I shared three tips on crafting a strong female character in this blog post. This week, I’ve saved my biggest tip for last. It’s just one tip, but I’ve saved this for one big post so that it’s easier to understand and apply. Are you ready? Here we go! 
Let Her Be Strong in Other Ways.
The only way that strong women seem to be depicted as being strong is in a fierce and violent way. 

The strong woman is the one beating up all of the bad guys. She’s the one leading the rebels into battle. She’s the one going undercover. She’s doing what the guys can’t (my thoughts on this will need to wait for a different post). But fighting isn’t the only way a woman can be strong.

One strong woman in fiction is Arwen of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. 

She doesn’t fight anyone. She doesn’t kill anyone. She doesn’t run around “breaking stereotypes” and “proving that women can do whatever men can do.” Yet she doesn’t sit around making doilies either. Arwen waits loyally for Aragorn to come back to her. She never lets go of the hope that she will be reunited with Aragorn. She encourages others around her. She is full of grace and isn’t afraid to be feminine. 

Arwen makes the hard choice to stay behind with the man she loves instead of leaving Middle Earth with her people for someplace far safer. She refuses to let go of love, even if it is the “easier” way out.

Sometimes, being strong doesn’t mean chasing the bad guys. Sometimes, it means simply being brave, no matter what’s going on around you. Sometimes it means being strong for others, even if we aren’t the ones charging into battle against an army of orcs.

Doesn’t it take more strength to heal than it does to hurt? 

Lucy Pevensie, from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, was given a special healing cordial from Father Christmas. She uses this cordial to heal others, including her brother Edmund. Yes, Lucy uses a dagger when necessary, but she is primarily a healer, in my opinion.

It takes more strength to heal and mend than it does to hurt others. It takes more strength to help others than to tear them down. Women were designed by God to be nurturing, loving, and caring. These traits shine in healing. Why shouldn’t the strong women of fiction do more healing, not just in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense? 

We need to see more women who are strong in character in the books we read.

When I think of a strong female character that is strong in character, I almost immediately think of DC Comic’s Wonder Woman. Wait a minute, you may be saying. Isn’t she one of those cliché strong women? And aren’t you a Marvel Comics fan?* Well, yes, Wonder Woman does a whole lot of fighting, but what I love about Wonder Woman is that she has a strong character. She is full of compassion. She wants to help others. She stands strong in her beliefs, no matter what. She encourages the people around her. She is full of grace, and despite all of her fighting for justice, she is also gentle. Wonder Woman isn’t just strong physically, but she is also strong in character. She’s a great example of a strong female in fiction, in my opinion. Her character is something that girls can truly look up to!

*Yes, I am a HUGE Marvel Comics fan, but I have two exceptions to my I-don’t-like-DC-that-much stance. Those two exceptions are the Flash (Grant Gustin’s Flash, of course) and Wonder Woman. 
These are just a few ways that women in fiction can break free from our culture’s fake version of strength and be truly strong. 
I’ve only scratched the surface of this subject with this post. There are so many different ways women can be strong without having to hurt others or be a ninja-warrior. Are there women that can beat up bad guys? Yes, there absolutely are. Is there anything wrong with having a female character who happens to be skilled in archery or swordplay? No, there isn’t. But girls need to see more than just that in the women they look up to fiction. 
I hope you’ll join me next week as I wrap up this series on strong female characters. 
What do you think? What are some other ways women can be strong? 

I’m Tired of “Strong” Female Characters Part Two ~ Three Tips On Crafting Strong Female Characters

Last week, I talked about why I’m tried of “strong” women characters and why we need truly strong women characters in this blog post. This week, I’m going to offer up three tips to help you craft truly strong women characters in your stories. Let’s begin, shall we? =)

1. Let Her Be Feminine
Take a moment and think about some of the characters that fit the “strong” woman cliché. What is one thing that they all seem to have in common? Pretty much every single one of them is barely feminine. This doesn’t mean that they don’t just not like the color pink. This means that they are rough, fierce, sarcastic, etc. One could say that they are more masculine than feminine. All so that they can be “strong.” 

Since when did actually being feminine become looked down upon? Since when did it make a woman weak? The message that all of these “strong” women are sending girls is that to be strong, you can’t be feminine. And I’m just not talking about the difference between being a tomboy and being a girly-girl. I’m talking about almost everything that makes a woman a woman being viewed as weak. 
God created girls to be different than guys. Shouldn’t this beautiful truth be celebrated in our stories instead of glossed over and tossed away? Why not celebrate the feminine aspects of women such as their gentleness and grace? Why not fill strong women with compassion and love? Why not let them find joy in serving in ways, such as cooking, helping with kids, and cleaning? Why not let them be women
The Take-Away: Your strong female characters are allowed to be feminine. Let them like girly things, have feminine pastimes, act feminine, etc. Let them be WOMEN.
2. Let Her Have Feelings
A message that I feel is promoted in YA fiction today is this: Ignore all of your feelings, and you’ll be stronger.* This is a message that I believe girls around the globe are soaking up, and that is definitely not okay. Why can’t a girl face her feelings and make wise decisions instead of ignoring them?  Girls are very, very emotional. Our emotions are a big deal! We need to see women in the stories we read handling how they feel the right way. 

In the Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series, Katniss Everdeen is notorious for shutting out her feelings or acting purely upon them, both of which have dire consequences for her and the people she loves. Both aren’t healthy ways to deal with emotions. What would’ve truly made Katniss stronger would have been her facing her feelings and learning how to deal with everything she felt.** 

The Take-Away: Let your character have feelings. Don’t turn her into a ninja-robot. Allow her to be able to confront her feelings and handle them in a healthy way.

*Either that, or let your feelings do the driving, but that discussion is for a different post… 
**I am by NO MEANS trying to hate on Katniss Everdeen (she’s one of my favorite cliché strong woman characters). I’m just trying to make a point with someone whose way of dealing with her emotions drove me nuts. xD 
3. Let Her Need Others
Strong women are often applauded for not needing a man to save them, for being able to everything themselves. But what’s wrong with being the damsel in distress every once in a while? Isn’t it a mark of true strength to acknowledge that you can’t do some things on your own and to accept the help of others? Why then should strong women not need help, from men (especially men) or other women? Why should having a man help a woman make that woman weak? 

Two strong women (or should I say girls?) in fiction are Susan and Lucy Pevensie of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. One of Queen Susan’s gifts from Father Christmas in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, besides her bow and arrow, is a magic horn that can summon help when it’s blown. In the films and the novels she uses it a few times when she and Lucy get into trouble. Does calling for help and receiving it make these queens of Narnia any less strong? Absolutely not! 

In reality, we can’t do much of anything alone. We all need saving at times. Why should the strong women in our stories be able to do everything themselves and be strong on their own? To “empower” women? To prove a point? To promote feminism? If so, those are terrible excuses for making women in fiction weak in the name of strength.

The Take-Away: Your character doesn’t have to do it alone. Let her be the damsel in distress every once in a while. It doesn’t hurt to need saving every once in a while! Put your character in situations where she’ll have to rely on others and/or work with them to achieve her goals. 

I hope that you will join me next week as I continue this series on strong women in fiction by offering my last (big!) tip on crafting a truly strong woman character. 

Which of these tips do you find the most helpful? Why do you think that strong woman characters aren’t very feminine? Do you have any tips to offer? 

I’m Tired of “Strong” Female Characters Part One

You know her. She’s got an athletic build and the uncanny ability to wield any weapon. Occasionally, there’s some superhuman power. More often than not, the title of savior/chosen one/leader/queen/princess/empress/insert-important-title-here is thrust upon her. She’s got a great distaste for anything pink, sparkly, or remotely girl (although she’s known to rock a dress when forced). Usually she’s got a handsome boyfriend that she ends up having to protect. And in the midst of it all, she’s keeping a bunch of secrets beneath her warrior-queen exterior.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the strong female character.

If you haven’t met her, then you obviously haven’t read a lot of YA fiction. She comes in many forms, such as the fantasy/sci-fi version I painted a picture of above. She can be found in pretty much every genre. She can be the main character, the secondary character, a background character… She’ll probably be there somewhere, if not in a book, then in a TV show or movie. And to be honest….

I’m tired of this “strong” female character cliché.

This is not to say that I don’t like some typical cliché strong female characters. In fact, they can be done very well. I’m thinking of memorable characters such as Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games and Parvin Blackwater of the A Time To Die series. But it seems to me that we have begun to define strong women by physical strengths, talents, and powers, their boyfriends and multiple love interests, their positions of power, their ability to go it alone, a hatred (or at least some form of dislike) of all things feminine… The list goes on.

Why does a girl have to be a warrior-queen to be strong?

I know lots of strong women, and none of them are half ninja. They find their strengths in places other than their looks and their ability to beat up boys and lead rebel nations. Strength, in our culture, has become more of a physical attribute than anything else. Strength is defined by how you carry yourself, how athletic and muscular you are, how intimidating you are… The list goes on. But the strength that these strong female characters have isn’t true strength. 

True strength doesn’t come from being a rebel leader or wielding a bow and arrow. 

True strength is something that comes from within, not from the outside. True strength isn’t ignoring your feelings, it’s confronting them. True strength is finding the courage to do what’s right. It’s staying strong though all life throws at you. True strength comes from faith in God. True strength is something that female characters in YA fiction desperately need.


I want girls to know that their strength doesn’t come their fists. 

I want them to have real strength, not the fake version that has been offered up to all of us in today’s movies, books, and TV shows. I want them to be inspired to be truly strong by the stories I write. Fellow writers, we get the privilege to change this cliché and inspire girls to become truly strong women though our stories. We get to do more than just entertain with the stories we spin. We get to inspire. We get to motivate. We get to encourage. What an awesome privilege that is, am I right?


Next week, I hope that you’ll join me for part two of this series as I offer some tips on how you can make the female characters in your writing truly strong. 

What are your thoughts on strong female characters? What do you think is true strength? Who is your favorite character that falls into the “strong woman” cliché?