So, pretty exciting news – I’ve been asked to speak at a TEDx event in December. It’s a big deal and a big honor and will probably be the most terrifying presentation of my life. I’ll be speaking about writing strong characters, specifically, male authors writing strong female characters. Which is cool. And scary. But mostly cool.
Here’s the thing – I need your help. Sitting and thinking about what I’m going to say, I realize the definition of a “strong character”, male or female, is going to vary wildly from reader to reader. It’d be aces if I could approach some kind of cohesive definition – I have my own thoughts, but they’re only the thoughts of one person, and I’d like to hear from YOU. Create some kind of gestalt. Or at least see a flip side of the coin.
In the comments below, tell me what you think makes a character “strong”. Give an example if you can. Tell me what you think makes a character “weak”. Example too would be aces. Be as brief or verbose as you like – it’s all good.
To incentivize things, I’ll give a signed hardback of STORMDANCER to a random commenter. If you want to up the signal on Twitter or FB, that’d be awesome too. The more comments on this puppy, the better informed I’ll be. Your comments will remain strictly anonymous for the purposes of the TEDx talk.
Much love peoples!

56 Responses to “Strength?”

  1. There are different hues of strength. For me, physical strength is just one type. Emotionally strong characters are admirable. Those who are able to express their thoughts and feelings without feeling embarrassed. Strength is also the ability to admit defeat, ask for help, or understand when one’s actions have hurt someone. Strength can also be seen when a character sacrifices oneself to help others. When Harry walks into the forest to meet Voldemort, his strength is so overwhelming that I was in tears and still think of his resolve to this day. A character can be considered strong when he is willing to admit when he is mistaken and has in an unpleasant way. When Mr. Darcy tells Elizabeth that he was wrong to treat her in such an abhorrent manner, he exhibits his strength of character. He knows that he was wrong and is strong enough to admit his mistakes.
    A weak character is one who does not take the time to be introspective. Someone who follows others and does not take the time to self-analyze will always be considered a weak character.

  2. Tygenco says:

    A “strong” character… Hm.
    There are positives and negatives to that sort of character. Without going the way of the Mary Sue, I think that strong characters are the ones we can relate to (among other things)
    Strong characters are the ones we cheer for, cry over, laugh about, worry with. Strong characters are the ones that seem to mirror our best AND worst qualities, with some minor tweaking to ensure certain pieces fit certain characters.
    “Weak” characters. These are the ones that are bland, that don’t stick out even when they’re the focus. These are the characters that have absolutely no backstory, no real description, and no real substance to them.
    To be really mean, I feel that we see plenty of that in today’s media revolving around politics; there are so many flimsy characters that a strong one can’t break through without being bogged down. It’s all bland and tasteless, lacking colour and lacking substance.
    (and now I’m going to shut up because I’ve a feeling that someone, somewhere, is going to be upset with my comments; also, math homework stole a lot of my good thought processing)

  3. Gina Rosati says:

    Ah! We were just talking about this at the library recently. Strong characters think for themselves. Their opinions are not always popular with the other characters (or with the readers) but they have valid reasons for their actions that eventually become apparent. Strong characters don’t always end up with the hot guy (or girl). And no whining allowed!
    Congratulations on this exciting gig – you’ll do an amazing job!

  4. KWhipkey says:

    First, congratulations on being chosen as a presenter–that’s awesome!
    Second, here are my thoughts on what makes a strong character. I’ll focuse on female characters since that’s what you’ll be addressing. 😉
    Honestly, I find things like integrity, morality and humility to be traits of strong women. Growing up in the martial arts as a woman might have biased my judgement some, but I always gravitate towards characters that exhibit these things. I think Katniss in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games is a great example, although she is rather selfish and jaded too. Fire in Kristin Cashore’s aptly named Fire is an even better example. She doesn’t have a lot of physical strength, as in no badass fighting skills, etc, but she’s got a lot of emotional strength that is reminiscent of classic characters like Jane Eyre. That kind of quiet resilience and belief of conviction is what really stands out in a female character for me. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with some awesome ass-kicking either. 😉
    In terms of what makes a female character weak, I’d have to go with anything that makes her seem like a damsel in distress. Nothing irritates me more than a female character who can’t stand on her own two feet, either emotionally or physically. Examples would include, (and I doubt I’ll be the only one to say it), Bella from The Twilight Saga, (although Melanie/Wanda from Meyer’s The Host was definitely a strong character) and Anastasia from the ever-popular Fifty Shades of Grey. Both characters are similarly positioned to be dependent on their male leads, to the point that they lose their own backbones and identities. I have no problem with romance, in fact I tend to go for stories that include it, but I prefer my women to be a little more firm, less vacant shells that so easily let their world be swallowed by the whims of, in these cases especially, domineering boys. Compromise and compassion are long-held ideals of the female gender, but I think those things resonate best when paired with the strength of character I mentioned above.
    Best of luck with your presentation!

  5. Desiree says:

    A strong character draws strength from her setbacks. She grows throughout the book/series. She inspires her readers to be brave. She has the capacity to both love and hate very strongly. She has flaws. She is relateable.
    Example: Yukiko has a very flawed relationship with her father that has obviously affected her thoughts and actions but slowly she begins to see him differently and understand why he does what he does. By the end of the book she has overcome her negative views of him and drawn strength from that. She has a new, yet not miraculously, changed relationship with him.

  6. Desiree says:

    A weak character shows no growth throughout the story. They are the exact person at the end of the book as at the beginning. Or they are completely unrelateable.
    Congrats on the TED talk, kick some major public speaking ass!

  7. Kayla Beck says:

    I think a strong character is not always one who can kick ass, but the one who is able to do THE RIGHT THING. Let’s take Neville Longbottom for a moment (hey, I never get to reference HP and October is my HP month) – he is constantly put down, a pretty pitiful wizard, and so on. However, he ended up being probably my favorite character in the series. He wasn’t The Chosen One, it wasn’t his destiny, he wasn’t handsome, smart, or anything Harry was – he was just someone who fought for what he believed was right. (And he deserved to end up with Griffindor’s sword.) Sure, Harry was the hero, but if you think about it, Neville was one of the bravest people in the series because he WASN’T special.
    As for the weak characters, I’m going to look straight at the stupid YA heroines that should be strung up by their toenails. Many of these girls have special powers or some other uh-maze-ing abilities, but the first guy that gives them The Look, and all of that is out of the window. I cannot stand someone who throws everything away to just please a person who treats them like shit or wouldn’t have looked at them twice if it wasn’t for that greatness that they have so simply thrown away. I know kids want to read that crap, but it gives them the wrong idea about where to find happiness. Also, Bella Swan is the weakest character in existence. I know she’s everyone’s favorite target, but ugh! I’ve detested her since before Twilight was a phenomenon or it was cool to hate Bella. That makes me strong. 😉

  8. Eliza Tilton says:

    For me, A strong character is someone who perseveres. They fail, make horrible decision and they keep going. They’re also fleshes out. Full of quirks, admirable qualities and flaws.
    A weak character is one that is whimsy. You don’t know what their true feelings are and they seem wishy washy. They have no fight in them.
    eg of a strong character–Frodo Baggins
    Eg of a weak character–Grima Wormtongue

  9. Kelly-Jane says:

    I think my definition of a “strong” character is a little different – a strong character to me just means a character who stands out when reading, who has some form of identifiable personality. Like, when reading a strong character, you’d eventually be able to have some kind of idea as to how that character would react to a certain situation because you feel like a you know them. A weak character, obviously, being a character who just kind does things for no discernible reason, like “Oh, by the way, they do this, and also this offends them and they get mad about this other thing but I’m not really sure why.”
    In this case, though, if we’re talking about a “heroic” character, I’d consider that to mean a character who doesn’t necessarily always win (they don’t have to get the guy/girl, maybe they don’t have to be SUPER SPESHUL or have some great destiny) they just take what they’ve got and make Awesomeness. Capital A required. And if they are Super Speshul or have a great destiny, then they don’t whine about it. They just… be Awesome. They don’t have to be a badass warrior, though that’s always welcomed. They just have to be human (or, y’know, not human, as the case may be in the fantasy genre). Flawed, but the type of person we aspire to be. Evil characters can be “strong” too, just… in a bad way.
    Weak characters are just flat. Cardboard cut-outs. Boring.

  10. Congratulations! Big fan of TED over here. Let’s see…to me, a strong character isn’t one who’s constantly brave, or never afraid. “Strong”, in my opinion, doesn’t mean they’re not allowed to complain or cry or despair. A strong character is one who inspires others to get up, even when he/she is having trouble standing, who is determined above all else to reach their goal, but who will also stop and listen to those with better ideas and more know-ho. They aren’t always the bravest or the smartest, but they are the most resourceful, have a particular moral compass, and refuse to play petty games that will slow them down or hurt others. They many times take on the role of protectors, even if unwillingly so.
    To give an example in (lately) popular fantasy lit, I’ll choose Jon Snow. Some call him whiny, mopey, annoying, even emo; but to me he is wonderfully flawed and knows it very well. Sure, he hopes he were wiser or highborn or powerful here and there, gets angry and acts childish, but he will always help, listen, shut up, speak up, and (more often than not), lead, according to what he thinks is right.

  11. Brenda says:

    To me, a strong character is a character who acts, not just reacts. He/she shapes his/her environment, not the other way around. He/she doesn’t wait for someone else to fix things, doesn’t rely on others to do everything for them. He/she makes decisions, sometimes the wrong things for the right reasons or the right things for the wrong reasons, but he/she keeps moving forward. A strong character is one who has flaws but goes on despite them. He/she may not be the strongest, prettiest, richest, most perfect character ever, and really shouldn’t be.
    My favorite example of a strong character versus a wibbly wobbly character is Marion from the 2010 Robin Hood versus Marian from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Essentially the same character but portrayed very, very different. (Someone shouting “Rooooobiiin!” is the second quickest way for me to cringe. “Flaaaaaaaaaash” is the first.)

  12. I would have to differentiate someone who is a strong character from someone who is strong IN character. Someone who is strong in character 1. Does the right thing no matter what the personal consequences and 2. knows the end does not justify the means. Evil or ‘bad’ characters are disqualified from being strong in character because they are by nature weak people. A strong character on the other hand could be someone who simply stands out as well developed in a story, and could be good or evil. Maybe this is convoluted, but it’s the best I can do…

  13. A strong female character must not fear to look the opponent in the eye and tell either truth or lie and do so with relative aloofness and without ever allowing to be treated condescendantly. She would allow herself to be seen as vulnerable at times, with those close to her. She must have doubts and dwell about them, so long as she gains something, as a character: knowledge, depth, maturity, empathy. I’ve always found that I mostly enjoy books where I can find yet another side of what I could have been (without any depressing feelings about it) or do.

  14. William Wall says:

    A strong character does not mean how physically fit they are, though it can be a small portion, but rather how well they cope with their shit and the way they act afterward…though this isn’t entirely true. I wanted to tell you that those who overcome their trials completely are hot, but to be honest those make for boring books and not a lot of plot to lead forward. It’s good to leave a half-fulfilled goal in the mix, or many.
    A good example of a strong character would be Kvothe. Yeah, he’s a Molly Sue, but he’s a lovable Molly Sue. Why? Because he has swagger, fights dragons–I mean draccuses (dracci?), saves pretty girls, and plays a fucking lute. He’s an eclectic sort of hero who doesn’t cry over his failures, but makes his spins his successes to appear that much greater. I know, I know, it’s going to end in tragedy, but his is a tale of a truly good person and he doesn’t feel artificial in the least.
    A weak character is someone who sits around and does nothing, or complains about everything. Someone who does everything you expect and never surprises you. Of course, Joe Abercrombie proves me wrong, but at least his characters are always doing something, and no one really liked Jezal for the fact that he was a ninny and a useless sod. He sure did make shit complicated for anyone else….
    Put tersely, this shit iz de complicateddu2743892yhu0ew8!!!! I don’t know the answer, I just guess, which is probably why I fail at tests…
    Anyway, I tend to ramble. Good luck at the panel mate. Don’t hit your head on any passing doorways and you’ll be fine.

  15. Sadhbh says:

    Active, not reactive. My definition is pretty much a character that tries to direct and control their own destiny, even when the universe keeps arguing with them.
    Making the best of what you have is a strength too. I’d like to see more female characters who are actually physically strong (and not this “she was strong but not muscular, more nimble and dextrous and fine and sleek like a little cat because WIMMENZ CAN’T HAVE MUSCLES THAT’S DISGUSTING”) because I really think girls more role-models who can do pull-ups as well as fecking Pilates, but you can be a strong (female or male) character from a wheelchair or in your 90’s.
    Tenacity. Character. A moral code, and the ability to admit you are wrong and to change the code. Strength, not stupid stubborn immobility. That’s my view.
    (I’d also like a warhorse and a mace, if there’s one going, but that could just be me.)

  16. ejtemple says:

    Congrats on being asked to speak for TEDx!
    I think at the core a strong character (flawed, damaged or otherwise), actively believes (not just hopes) they can influence their own destiny. Sometimes in their darkest hours they lose sight of this belief, but it’s always there in their heart and a little outside help or guidance usually gets them back on track. Think Jane Eyre. Though suffering loss and abuse at a young age she maintains a robust capacity for dignity, pragmatism, love and humour. Things happen to her, but it’s the actions she takes in response that make the story. Also Lisbeth Salander, another victim of abuse, flawed and brutal, uses her skills to exact revenge on her abusers, and also to defend others who have suffered abuse, and she still retains the capacity to love (Mikael).
    Weak characters are carried through their stories. Bella, in ‘Twilight’, for example, is someone life happens to for the first three books and most of the fourth. She rarely chooses action unless self destruction is involved, drawing others into danger to rescue her. The noble sacrifices of exchanging her life for her mother’s in book 1, or for her child in book 4, are undermined by a total lack of regard for her own safety throughout the rest of the series. Her bloody single minded desire to be with Edward drives the whole plot, but it’s selfish rather than selfless. She ignores or suffers the thoughts and feelings and desires of every single other character in the series, including Edward, and only redeems herself at the end of book 4 when she FINALLY learns how to push her defenses beyond herself to defend her loved ones from the Volturi.

  17. dragongirl says:

    Okay, lots of heroines in YA fiction are strong physically, but I think it’s more important for characters to be strong mentally. I’d rather have a character who perhaps isn’t physically strong but does what’s right and doesn’t give up even when it’s tough, rather than a kick-butt heroine who is a really great fighter but is whiny/impatient/etc. Hope all of that made sense. 😉
    Weak characters are character who are whiny, don’t take charge, and have no substance. I especially hate heroines who change their looks or personality to make a guy like them. That’s a sign of a seriously weak character, to me anyway.

  18. A strong character in my mind is the one you see through the entire story or its part of it as believable, makes an impression of sorts, with both flaws and strenghts that influence his or her decisions in a way that makes the reader sympathise with and understand and believe.
    It´s the one you remember, no matter how many pages the character is on, if it´s the main character or someone in the background. And as for a male writer to create a strong female character,,, well most of us have a mother or a sister, a grandmother and nieces, friends and co-workers that enrich our understanding of women, and I imagine a good male writer is able to draw on that and distance himself enough to step in the deep end and see what lies underneath the surface so to speak.
    To compare this to what a strong person is in real life, (not a fictional character i mean) is irrelevant, we have whole religions telling us about that.
    This is a really hard question though, but here you have my five cent´s worth. Good luck and congrats !

  19. When people talk about the ‘strength’ of characters, I tend to think of it as the strength of their spirit. Regardless of physical attributes, strong characters tend to know their mind and stand by their personal beliefs/morals/ethics – often at great personal cost. They also seem to have a great will to survive and succeed. Weak characters have a tendency to bow quickly before adversity, and have no will to assert their moral or ethical beliefs (if they hold any at all).

  20. AlexS says:

    To me a strong character is about presence, determination and faith in their beliefs. They have their goals set and commit themselves to do it, they might need the helps or others or not, but whatever the case they know it’s up to them to make things happening. And you don’t need to have powers to that because it’s your mind and your wits that will allow to succeed. One character I think it’s the embodiment of this is Cersei Lannister from the George R.R. Martin’s saga A Song of Ice and Fire, maybe some will be surprised and be like are you nuts?! she’s evil! and sure she’s done some pretty horrible things but in this world you can’t be pure evil or pure goodness just as things aren’t black and white, and Cersei is such a strong women.
    Not only will she do her best to defend her children but she won’t allow anyone to destroy her world, clearly she knows what she want, she is focused, and even though at times she wishes she could be a man because they could have a more options at to which paths to follow but then again, knowing she is a women she uses whatever tactics or schemes she can to achieve her objectives. And even if she faces trouble she keeps her head high, she knows she must keep going, she knows she must survive. That kind of fierceness definitely makes a character strong.

  21. Ahh, this is so amazing, Jay!! Congrats on being asked! 🙂 I love TED talks.
    Strong characters… There are so many heroines that I identify as ‘strong’ and yet a lot of them are really, really different. I think the number one thing for me would be standing up for their beliefs. I may not find them the most likeable character but if they fight for what they think is right, I think it’s admirable. Rose (Vampire Academy) was always a strong heroine in my mind because not only could she physically take care of herself but there was so much determination and fire in her. And then of course, there were things like her insecurities and loyalty that made her seem more human to me.
    I usually think of a weak character as someone that’s whiny, melodramatic, shallow and unwilling to even TRY. I’m in no way saying that a character needs to have it all figured out — I would prefer it if they did not — but to just throw your arms up and say ‘screw it’ really gets me.
    Good luck! Can’t wait to see the talk.

  22. hrose2931 says:

    Honestly, and I am not kissing a**, Yukiko is the strongest female character I’ve encountered in MG and YA literature so far. She has heart, she loves, she has family, she has respect and is respected, she questions her beliefs,things she’s always held to be true and seen them through another’s eyes. She fights for what she believes in even if it means loss to her, she admits she doesn’t have all the answers, but she makes the first step toward change, she grows. Her fight isn’t personal, not to save one person or herself, but for her world. She is a true hero, trying to save not only her country, but the people her country is at war with. She is a fully developed character seen through many others eyes. I think you should at least consider her when you’re developing your speech. And congrats on the TEDex. I have no effing idea what it is, but I’ll google it right?!

  23. Nobonita says:

    In my opinion,a strong female character is one who does not act like a damsel in distress in front of the male character throughout the story.You know,one who’s all badass and everything.A good example is probably Yukiko from Stormdancer but if you think that I’m flattering you,another example may be Ananna from The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke(By the way,really good book,you should totally try reading it!) or Six from The Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore. Another quality of a strong female character might be that she never lets guys get the upper hand.By which I mean that even if she likes a guy,instead of drooling all over him,she plays hard to get.I know,I know,I’m sounding like a feminist right now. :3 Good luck on the TEDex event! 🙂

  24. A strong character to me is someone with depth. Some internal struggle is a nice touch and the character must be a bit believable. A strong character is someone I can believe in and someone I care about. Make me care about what happens to your character and I’ll love you forever. Fiddler in Malazan books, Vimes in Discworld. Logen Ninefingers in First Law trilogy. Isak in Twilight Herald. They are so well written that they feel like friends.
    A cookie cutter character is weak to me. The swashbuckling, womanising pirate. The dumb general. The suave thief. The damsel in distress. The wise wizard When you can see the writer didn’t really put effort in and is using only the expected character traits. They are as deep as a rainpuddle and just as interesting. Everyone knows what’s going to happen to them. Gruesome death for the most part.

  25. Ash B says:

    Well after reading all the above it is hard to think of new ways to say what has already been said. So here goes, good example of strong characters is Star Wars in Episodes 4-6 Luke Skywalker is a strong character as you watch him develop from a farm hand into a excellent pilot then to become a Jedi and it is great to watch. Princess Liea is also a strong character also, while being in danger she isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in and is happy to take charge.
    Then we have Star Wars 1-3 which has two rather weak characters first is Anakin Skywalker the whinny little sod who seems to complain more and more as the trilogy goes on and then there is Padame the woman who let little Ani turn into douche that he became.
    Just my two cents and I agree with what has been said before. Also big congrats to getting the invite guess it means people are enjoying what you have written 🙂

  26. A strong character in my opinion is one who makes the hard decisions. She (or he) doesn’t let emotions rule her. She utilizes logic, training, and determination in fighting and decision making. She is the first one in line when walking into a bad situation and the last one out, making sure everyone else makes it out alive. She would do anything for the people she loves. The perfect example is Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels Seried by Ilona Adrews. Kate is the perfect heroine.
    A weak character let’s people walk all over her, lets fear rule her, and let’s only emotions drive her decision making.

  27. pomadness says:

    Simplez: Strong characters are the ones that fall so they can rise (it may take awhile for them to get there, they might get lost within themselves for a while there, but they eventually do one way or another).They are the ones that suffer inside and outside, but never give up, never surrender. : )
    It’s the moto I use for my main characters at least.

  28. Leena says:

    First of all, congratulations!
    Strong character is one who shapes the story instead of being tossed about by different events leading to the inevitable climax (Yes, Bella from twilight, I’m looking at you). Strong character doesn’t need to be physically all powerful, but she must be conscious of her limitations and her strenghts – think about Monza Murcatto in Joe Abercombie’s Best Served Cold.
    Strong characters have also strong voice – that’s how they express themselves. They are unafraid to think their opinions, though they might choose not to voice them.

  29. Isabelle says:

    When I think of strong characters I bend towards more strong characterization, because for me that’s what can make or break a book. I enjoy characters that are multi-dimensional. I believe that every character should have a fatal flaw which they struggle against throughout the book.
    Every human being has that one flaw they struggle with their entire life. For some people it’s a lack of confidence, more others it might be a lack of focus, or it can be one of the traits that we consider as the seven deadly sins. So a strong character is one that has that flaw that they struggle throughout the book to overcome.
    One of my favorite strong characters is Scarlett O’Hara because she’s not perfect and throughout the book you see her struggle with her greed and ambition only to have it destroy her in the end. A strong character, in my opinion doesn’t even have to conquer their flaw at the end of the novel for I base it completely on the strength of the characterization. Another strong character that does overcome her fatal flaw is Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series. She’s less kick-ass as Scarlett O’Hara but her fatal flaw is her temper and throughout the books you see her mature and try to overcome her temper.
    Weak characters are the “mary-sues” that are one-dimensional. They’re pretty, they’re special, they’re popular, and they’re always pursued by the opposite sex. There’s nothing human about them because they basically act as the author’s wish-fulfillment. Sadly there’s been a huge wave of leading characters that I consider weak in popular YA books. Of course the first character that pops in my mind is Bella from Twilight. One could argue she has a fatal flaw, her neediness and inability to survive and thrive without the love of her life, but the author doesn’t acknowledge that, that is a flaw and the character doesn’t take any steps to try and overcome her flaw, instead she jumps off cliffs in order to hear the voice of the guy who had left her.
    The character’s struggle over their flaw doesn’t need to be the central aspect in the story and the character doesn’t need to be aware of the struggle but it should be there in order for the characterization to develop a strong character.

  30. Cass says:

    For me a strong character is one who faces up to the challenges life throws at her (or him), even if she’s terrified, even if she struggles at first. Think Katniss in the first Hunger Games book, as opposed to in the last book, where she has all the strength of a piece of cooked spaghetti (not saying it’s not justified by the story but it drove me nuts). She does what she needs to do in the face of the resistance provided by the story.
    Then there’s strong characterisation, which is a whole other thing. :p

  31. Anonymousousous says:

    To start off with i’d just like to say that i’m a guy so this comment is written from a male’s perspective.
    A strong female character is simply NOT a strong male character with female body parts.
    Too often, especially in the fantasy genre, we see strong female characters who have had their feminine qualities written out and replaced by male character traits (well what is stereotypically seen to be ‘male’ and ‘masculine’ but i won’t get started on that rant). This exchange is supposed to give female characters strength, power and often a notion of formidability with exquisite weaponry skills but at what cost? Often, if it weren’t for the physical descriptions of these characters it would be difficult to know they were female in the first place.
    I believe strong characters, regardless of gender, should possess great self-discipline, determination, diligence, leadership skills (yet not always leading), wisdom and last but not least, emotional intelligence (especially in males).
    I love to see female characters embody these traits and yet still maintain their femininity, their fragility, their elegance and the ease with which they are able to access their emotions (whether privately or publicly). A woman’s ability to weep is often portrayed as a weakness, but rather should be seen as a strength – as evidence of her empathy and humanity, attributes we too often take for granted in our messed up world.
    However, I also love to see internal conflict relating to this topic arise in the characters themselves. I love seeing strong women who view their emotions as weakness and are constantly struggling with that, or a strong female character who has lost touch of her emotions and struggles to feel whole again.
    A strong female character is one who stays true to her values, continually strives towards self-imrovement and maintains her femininity. An example of an ideal strong female character would be a mixture of Lady Arwen (LotR), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games) and Ellie (John Marsden’s the Tomorrow series). Such a mixture would be genuinely female; bad ass one minute and graceful the next.
    If we keeping writing female characters without femininity, then all we are doing is raising a generation of young women who are told that their natural disposition is a hindrance to their ability to be a strong an independent person.
    Instead we should be teaching them that these qualities, the ones which make women so beautiful, intriguing and fundamentally different to males, are priceless, worthy of praise and actually add to a female’s strength.
    p.s. I haven’t purchased your book yet (is it embarrassing that i’m thinking of importing the US one because they don’t have that awesome cover here in Australia?), but one of the reasons i was drawn to it and to you as a writer was due to most of the reviews praising how you were able to achieve a similar balance between your main character’s femininity and badass-ness.

  32. Eve says:

    Firstly, although you specifically are to talk about character strength; I don’t think that the difference between male and female that big is. Actually there is none for me, sorry.
    There is physically difference, but in character I think they deserve to have the same conditions.
    For me a strong character stick to its rules! And not only because they were told those rules – e.g. laws – but because they believe in them.
    That is the basis of true strength.
    Because if your into sth. that means sth. to you, you naturally become brave or even overcome your own limitation!
    Well, still that is not all of it – like I said- it’s be basis.
    I think the rest is a bit like a cooking recipe, add to the basis a bit of wisdom (but please, not to much! After all we talk about a strong character and not about Mary Sues), a pinch of stubbornness, a little bit of reality, and some empathy as well as one or two flaws.
    And lastly; include into her independency.
    Additional a bit of combat knowledge and/or fighting skills can be added.
    And voilà!
    Your finished.
    Yep, I think that is what makes a strong character out.
    I hope you understand what I mean, otherwise feel free to ask 

  33. Janhvi says:

    Strength for me would be in the choices the character makes under his or her circumstances. I totally dislike perfect characters so a character with flaws who makes mistakes and still doesn’t give up is a strong character for me. Someone with a strong mind who can think quickly and make the required decisions at the given time is a strong person.

  34. bwtaylor75 says:

    To me, a strong character is driven and willing to go the extra mile to achieve their goals. They may not make the right choices, but their actions make perfect sense to them. The reader understands their logic and feels connected to them. Take Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds from the show Firefly, and Serenity movie. He has many different layers but the audience understands the motivation behind each action. Does he have all the answers? No. But the audience wants him to succeed in whatever he does because he sticks to his beliefs and is unwavering in them.
    You may also want to check out this aritcle by Greg Rucka, titled ironically enough, Why I Write Strong Female Characters. It’s a good read and worth any writer’s time.

  35. Kat says:

    My opinion of what makes a character ‘weak’ is when they cry a lot and when they go gaga over a guy (or girl) so much that they aren’t focusing on the main plot or mission. Crying a lot, which I find immensely popular with female characters, drives me up a wall, especially when they do it every other chapter. You should have the strength to ignore your own feelings for the time being and focus on what’s happening. You can cry later…while in your room…alone.
    When the love interest pops up and suddenly that’s all the main character can think about, even when some kind of evil group or being is after them, all they can think about is *blank*’s eyes and how beautiful she or he looks in the sun. (Twilight, Tiger’s Curse, and Everneath are some examples) Blargh.
    My opinion of what makes a character ‘strong’ is being able to stand up for yourself and not back down to someone who’s trying to force you to do something you don’t want to do. To fight, to not give up no matter what. (and not break down crying. 😉 )
    Finding the strength to stand up when someone you loves is down, to protect them even if it’s too late, is what defines a strong character for me. (Divergent is one example, and the Warriors series)

  36. A strong character knows there’s a time and a place for everything. She won’t fall apart in the middle of a tense situation, but think through it with a pragmatic mind. My example is Katya Kuriakova from Jonathan L. Howard’s upcoming release, Katya’s World. She’s young but takes takes responsibility with no questions asked or complaining. There are times when she wants to step away from death and action, but she sees through her fight to the end. A strong character also puts differences aside to help someone in need, no matter how challenging it is for them, like Kelsey from Colleen Houck’s Tiger Saga. I even have a preference for characters who bond with animals, that always tears me apart! 🙂
    A weak character is indecisive bordering on plain idiotic. I can’t think of an example of a character that I just hated so much because she couldn’t make a straight decision without second-guessing herself to no end, she only thought about herself or an impossible romance, or she couldn’t handle a tough situation on her own with confidence. I’ve come across a character who exhibited some of those traits but not all, thankfully, but usually its not that the character has these traits but that the author just highlights them instead of balancing her out with a more enticing trait. I hope that makes any sense!
    I’m still discovering new types of characters that I really enjoy, so I have to mention how a strong character will surprise me at every turn and I’ll never know what to expect of her even if she has a consistent personality. I don’t want any character I read to be predictable or reckless, but maybe somewhere in between.

  37. Symph says:

    A strong character never gives up- they try to arm wrestle the world, but I don’t hink it’s always about badassery or action 🙂 it’s more about resistance and intensity; Stubbornness has a huge part to do with it. Oh, freak. If you want an example, I would say Phèdre from the Jacqueline Carey series is a strong character. Not physically, but she does save the world a couple times, and endangers it for the sake of her best friend, and kills the big bad with a hairpin.

  38. Hmm for me, a strong character is basically anybody who sets their eyes on what they want, and goes for it. They don’t give up, and they can take the criticism standing up and they really do take it to heart. Also, they don’t sit down and cry when things get tough, and they’re really determined to do what they think is right and what they think they need.
    And then a weak character is probably letting their fear get the best of them, like if they’re scared no one will believe them, so they keep quiet even if it could change EVERYTHING. And I also think if they’re extremely ignorant and let themselves be stomped on, whether it’s their love interest or their parents or something.
    I have a pretty basic thought process when it comes to weak and strong people, and it basically involves knowing what’s right and stopping at nothing to get there if you want it bad enough, and then just making everybody around you suffer and do your dirty work.

  39. Kiara says:

    In my opinion, a strong character is active, while a weak one is reactive. A strong character drives the story, and a weak one lets the story drive her (or him).
    There are all sorts of noble definitions implied in the word “strong”, but I don’t know as those implications are necessary. Take Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black, for example. She isn’t intentionally heroic, or overtly self-sacrificing, or even a very nice person. But she’s a strong character, because her choices drive the events around her. The consequences she faces are those of her own decisions, not someone else’s.
    In fact, I think Miriam’s a perfect example because she very clearly has the opportunity to NOT get involved and yet she chooses to do so anyway.
    A weak character would – oh, I don’t know, let’s say maybe get dumped by her love interest, and mope around for several months doing absolutely nothing. No decisions. No drive. No strength.
    I hope some of that helps.

  40. zhenya says:

    Charles Dickens wrote the shittiest women: spineless, easy to kill, enabling. Daniel Defoe’s woman though, is masterful: warrior survivor, free, convention killer. They kick ass nigh on 300 years later, even by my feminazi standards 🙂

  41. sam says:

    I would say a strong character is someone who the author establishes clearly doesn’t want to do something and then even though they don’t want to do said thing, and it might come at great harm to the character they do it out of some greater purpose. Now these strong characteristics may also be used for nefarious purposes as some authors see fit to do, but none the less these are the characteristics that make one strong. As for weak leaving someone in a worse position because of fear or greed. Especially if the person being sold out/left out in the cold is someone who the weak character had been close with. Really the difference is slight, it’s following through with something that one doesn’t want to do, if they wanted to do it, then it’s neither weak nor strong, just is.
    Does that help at all? Or was that just random babbling?

  42. Vinny K says:

    When I think of a strong character, I don’t think of physical attributes. To me, a strong character is one that can weather the challanges set before him/her without faltering. Even if they make a bad decision, they do not back down from it and do not try to shrug off the consequences or responsibility. They face adversity head on. The current example of a strong caharcter that is on my mind is (and don’t judge me :p) Mira from Jocelynn Drake’s Dark Days series. While it is true she DID have extraordinary physical strength, being a vampire, her main strength came from within. She remained firm in her beliefs and refused to be manipulated to nefarious ends, despite the risk to her own life as well as the lives of those for which she cared.
    A weak character in my estimation would be one with a weak inner constitution. One that is cripplingly indecisive, weak-willed and helpless. In contrast to strong characters, weak characters tend to be complete push-overs, doing as they are bidden by those whom they fear. Weak characters seem almost to not think for themselves and instead let others think and make decisions for them. The do not assume a role of responsibility, especially not of their own accord. All in all, you will find that weak characters do not become heros because of their own attributes, but instead because of happenstance. If they become heros at all. The only weak character that comes into my mind at this moment is Rojer from Peter V Brett’s The Demon Cycle. He does not exude the strength or personal capacity that one would hope to have in a male lead in a book series. He makes a good foil to the series’ main “hero” Arlen Bales a.k.a. the Warded Man.
    I sincerely hope I was able to help you. I’m a big fan and I can’t wait for your U.S. tour!

  43. Vinny K says:

    I just realized that this blog post was written on my birthday lol

  44. Elle L. says:

    My idea of a strong character is just somebody who is capable of going through with whatever endeavor they’re going through despite all the challenges and failures and consequences they may deal with. It’s about having the strength to move past those and find it in them to succeed.
    As for a weak character, I tend to hate characters who are completely unable to stick to their ideals and morals, especially without any resistance. It’s a little bit hard for me to say if I really believe a character is weak or not though. For example, Wormtail from Harry Potter (no duh). He’s weak because he’s unable to stick up for his friends and he betrays them and so on, so on, but on the other hand, when he’s trying to strangle Harry, he does find it in him to not kill him, though Voldemort would probably be appreciative, so there’s still a little bit of strength in him.
    While strong characters tend to inspire me, weak or somewhat weak characters are the ones who tend to resonate more, for me.

  45. Lo says:

    That’s amazing Jay!!! Wow, TED talk 🙂
    Alright, here’s my two cents worth on what makes a character strong.
    A character who is strong recognizes their weaknesses but tries to become a better person in the course of the novel. Eh, maybe not ‘actively’ per-say but you see this change occur.
    ex// A character I am writing about shies away from a responsibility and thus someone gets hurt because she doesn’t confront this responsibility. She realizes that she must step up to the plate and follow through with her gift. And so this is an example of a ‘strong’ character – recognizing the failure – but trying to learn from it and not stagnating.
    And a weak character – well I suppose the opposite in this sense – someone who doesn’t step up to the plate – who shies away from their calling or duty. Gah. I’m realizing this isn’t clear and starts to enter fuzzy boundaries ‘duty’ , responsibility etc.
    But that’s what comes to mind 🙂

  46. Hello Jay,
    Firstly wonderful news, being a speaker at Tedx. Not heard of it, but I can see why they want you to speak at it. Go forth and you will rock the kazbah. Secondly, uber thankyou for the bookmark. I got all fan girlie when I received it in mail, so much thanks for that:)
    Thirdly A Strong Character:
    Personally, I like a character who is flawed, has layers that get peeled back . They can appear moody, broody, cranky whatever you want to label them, but they are hiding possibly a side to themselves that they want kept hidden for various reasons. I am not saying they have to be the spunk or spunkette of the book. I love e.g. Terrible in Stacia Kanes Urban fantasy series , the guy is a thug etc and a bit on the fugly side in comparison to the norm being the spunk. He has a HUGE following. But flawed, damaged etc and hiding things. We don’t like whiney. We need as the reader to connect with the character. To me strength or weakness isn’t about looks or age. It’s about connecting as the reader with the character. A strong character does not have to have two legs . I think strength comes from how honest a writer is with the character and how much they are willing to give them some depth. If writing a series a strong character needs to develop .
    A weak character I think is one we don’t connect with as the reader. It’s not the meanie as you often in YA books have the mean chick. I love mean chicks. It doesn’t mean they are weak. If I can feel annoyed with a character and I am supposed to , then the writer is doing the right thing by the reader.
    If I can feel devastated by a strong character and their pain they are going through , then kudos to the writer.
    I think if I feel nothing much towards a character , then that is a weak character.
    Strong: E.g. Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments. I am invested in each of her characters. Jace ( yum) , Clary, Simon, Alec, Magnus , Isabelle….etc Even Church the cat. We are invested in your Griffon.
    I think dialogue helps …lol!! duh, I mean Jace is a smart mouth and I love that. Attitude helps a lot with a strong character. Give them different personalities.
    Ummmm, I shall stop waffling now:)
    Awesome!! News!!
    Novels On The Run:D:D

  47. oh p.s. I forgot to add. Characters male or female that cry all the time…grrrrrrr, somebody slap me. There is crying in context and there is crying that makes us roll our eyes and want to face plant the book. So bad bad weak character.
    Now if the reader cries then the character is really quite powerful and makes us feel like bawling like babies. Slammed and Point of Retreat and Pushing The Limits…..get the tissue box!!
    I am now finished:D

  48. Pratima says:

    Well, go you Mr. K 😀 And good luck for sorting through all the replies. You sure as hell are gonna need it 🙂 First off, long post ahead, please don’t plot to send the griffin against me.
    1) For me, a strong character (irrespective of whether he is the protagonist or an antagonist or even “good” or “evil” or a little bit of both) is someone who stands by his/her convictions/principles (though these are expected to evolve through the course of a story) i.e. they stay true/loyal to themselves and do what they believe is right, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be in line with what we/others think is acceptable or what is right/wrong by conventional societal standards.
    E.g. a. Harry Potter tries to stand by what he believes to be right to do no matter what challenging situation is thrown his way during the course of the series.
    E.g. b. Dexter (from the show Dexter) does this. You or me might not necessarily agree with the way he enforces justice, but we can understand his motivations and the way he views things.
    E.g. c. The Darkling (Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo) falls into the “shades of gray” category – he’s an antagonist but he’s not evil (or at least he’s not evil just for the sake of being evil) like say the Joker from Batman.
    2) Another defining characteristic of a strong character is that they tend to be layered i.e. there isn’t just one single aspect to their personality or the way they act and feel. At times, they can be brave or even ruthless and at other times, they can be vulnerable or even helpless. I expect to see different faces of a strong character as the story evolves (both strong and vulnerable) and how their character evolves given different situations.
    E.g. d. Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones) – boy, was I constantly surprised by this guy during the first two seasons of the show. He started out as someone I felt disgust for (due to the way his lifestyle was initially portrayed) and then as events unfolded and his thoughts and motivations were revealed, that disgust turned into respect, sympathy and affection and dammit, I found myself rooting for him so he’s now one of my most favorite characters on the show.
    E.g. e. Again, Harry Potter starts out as the regular cardboard character of an 11 year old but then he starts facing different situations (both good and bad) and as a result grows so much throughout the series – at times we see him at his lowest and at other times, he’s at the top of his wizarding game.
    3) Having made point No. 1. above, I also have to say that I expect a strong character to struggle to overcome internal dilemmas and make some hard decisions in the face of adversity. All is not clean-cut about how a strong character acts. They don’t just check their list of principles/convictions and be like hey, I’m gonna do this or that because this meets my criteria for acceptable behavior. Even though something may feel difficult or even unacceptable to them, sometimes situations might leave them no other choice than to do said thing and they just have to deal with it. What’s more is that they should be able to question their principles/convictions if/when the need arises.
    E.g. f. Again, Dexter has these moments when he is not sure how to act and questions his deepest convictions and as the show progresses, this is sometimes a complete game-changer.
    Phew. Now, on to the weak (I’ll try to keep this one brief).
    For me, a weak character is someone who gives in to his basest instincts often to the detriment of others (though these people are innocent in most cases). These characters tend to be the most treacherous – one minute they’re with one person and the next minute they’ve stabbed that person in the back. I’m not saying that a strong character is not allowed to change sides; what I’m saying is that there should be a better reason for a character to change sides than baser instincts such as greed or fear. So, weak characters tend to do the cowardly thing instead of the right thing.
    E.g. g. Joffrey Baratheon (Game of Thrones) proclaims to be a ruthless and valiant king (often inflicting cruel and unjust sentences on people for no good reason as a consequence of this) but shamelessly cowers behind his dwarven uncle and his grandfather when it’s time for him to wage the actual war against his opponents.
    Weak characters pretend to be one thing but really are another and thus are constantly lying to themselves about it.
    That said, the lines between weak and strong characters is sometimes blurred. Sometimes, a character can start out as weak and then gradually find strength as the story progresses. e.g. Alina (Shadow and Bone)
    Bottom line is that I expect a strong character to act to overcome stuff that challenge them and I also expect to see their strengths as well as their flaws evolve. There is no light without darkness and so there is no strength without weaknesses – there I said it.

  49. sbaker says:

    Word of warning: I have an MA in English. Much of what I say is gibberish.
    That aside, I view “strength” not so much as any particular attribute or action as it is a matter of depth and development. (Much like Tygenco says above)
    Kind of like the traditional idea of “flat” vs “round” characters, those which are weak are those with no definition. They are walking stereotypes, or are built up in ways which rely on them.
    Strong characters, on the other hand, are individually defined, and as such far more interesting. They exist outside, in contradiction to, or in ways which problematize stereotypes.
    In terms of female characters in particular, I think it’s important to portray them as strongly as possible. This is because so much of ‘traditional’ fantasy ideas rests on patriarchal ideas of woman-as-object. Stories which show, instead, women-as-individuals, are very much needed.

  50. X52495 says:

    I think that a strong character, male or female, is someone who takes action against their problems, attains self-respect, and makes decisions independently. However, if they need help, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. They should have flaws but the willing to overcome them, which would be the difference between a relatable main character and a Mary Sue. It would be great if (s)he has the ability to fight as well, but that’s normally in a genre that fits this.
    Weak characters are instead reactive and just dwell on their problems, and, to quote Evangelion, “run away from reality when it sucks.” A good example of this would be Shinji Ikari from the original Evangelion. He kept on dwelling on his self-loathing and yearning for acceptance even though he’s supposed to fight the Angels and save the world. Thankfully he was re-written for the Rebuild movies and the manga and was made more proactive in them.

  51. I think everything goes down to the character’s perspective. I mean in all the books a protagonist has a purpose to achieve. What follows is a story of how the character attained that goal. That adventure could either show you what the character is made of or what she isn’t made of. If she can think rationally, fight bravely but not to the point of complete idiocy or just pure stubborness, know her grounds, stand to her belief and has a good head over her shoulders especially when it comes to boys, then I think that is a strong character. But really, that last one could tell you whether the protagonist has a spine or not and whether you could easily sway her from one point to another. Also, the growth of the character all throughout the book is I think an important aspect to look for to gauge the strength of the character. She could start as someone that everyone would hate and despise but in the end, her attitude would not define her but her actions will.
    Weak characters are those that are easily manipulated, has no sense of self and those that are dependent to others to show emotions, think, or act. In a way, these type of characters wouldn’t survive in their own story if they are alone. I know that’s the point of supporting characters but neither these supporting characters could save them either.
    PS. Congrats Jay! 🙂

  52. the Procrastinator says:

    I came here to get away a bit. My daughter is out to her first big night out without mum or dad tonight. All dressed up, wearing makeup, ready to eat pizza, drink sugary drinks and dance. So I can wallow over the fact my little girl is growing up or I can write exam notes on corroborative evidence. I do a have a third option. I am a dutiful husband and as I knew our little princess was off into the deep dark night and the wife would be angsty I grabbed that most recent Underworld flick so she could relive some old torn up teen issues she’s not resolved. Hence i am here…
    What makes a strong character? Well for starters they need to be able to lift heavy things, and I mean really fucking heavy. Something like a conscience, that should be heavy enough. There’s an inner voice that compels us to behave in a particular manner. It doesn’t mean we have to do it, usually it’s far better if the conscience is lagging behind the action. Nothing like a solid dose of regret to drag the inner strength out of the yawning abyss it usually resides in. Beaten down into a pulpy mess, reminiscent of a trembling junkie’s mascara driven tears, by a world that tells us status is driven soley by our ability to consume and discard. It doesn’t matter what it is we’re consuming or discarding, plastic bottles, old batteries we screwed up by not lengthening their life span because it was too easy to simply assume we knew how the things worked, or people, people are a favourite. We don’t step over the grimy children thaat worked in the factories of Victorian England any longer. The stepping got tiresome and the look of them made it hard to enjoy the things our wealth brought us. So we removed the children, off to another place so we didn’t have to look at them anymore. Now we can rest, nice and safe in a world that is clean and ripe, a world in which our media tells us we can be and do anything, as long as we have the cash for the education, or the start-up business, or even better, our parents have it. What makes a strong character, it’s a character that for all their follies and inherent weaknesses isn’t afraid to stand and say in a mewling little whiny voice, that something is wrong. It doesn’t need to be heard, it doesn’t need to be seen. It could be that falling tree that makes no sound. But the fact it existed and was aware, even if just an instant, that the actions it bore witness to were wrong and not to be accepted It is there, we as readers find strength. We find something that we can relate to. Because you can be the dumbest asshole on the planet, yes ****** **** i am looking at you, but if for one small instant, for one single act we observe we nod slowly and say, “yes.” The right thing has happened.
    As for a weak character that is too easy. It’s everyone who ever walked away when they should’ve stayed, who watched and said nothing, who acted without thought and who honestly believes strength is best shown when you highlight the weakness in another. yeah those are the weak cunts I despise with every ounce of my being.
    But you know this shit. You don’t need to hear affirmation of your own thoughts from us. Or to roll out a bunch of literary wank. I studied how to ‘correctly read’ and engage with canon and it doesn’t really mean much unless we want to hear the same old stories with the same old characters and all formulaic so things don’t get too out of control. You have been asked to speak.You should gnaw your truth till your gums bleed and then as you exhale all the angst and regret of lonely nights not knowing whether you’d reach the heights to which you were aspiring let your audience hear it. The strength of your characters comes from your own narrative. Fuck the gestalt, fuck passing the buck, fuck not standing and loudly proclaiming our own truths. But I guess if you want to really go to a source of strength the chatterati will approve of then try this guy…
    “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway.

  53. Lo says:

    Hi! I wanted to say THANK YOU for the lovely signed bookmark. I came home earlier this week after two midterms in a row, feeling pretty bummed, and saw an envelope from Australia. Opened it up to a glossy beautiful bookmark.
    Amazing, thanks again.

  54. Stephanie says:

    A strong character to me would mean how the character holds out during the book. If they are faced with a decision that have consequences but in the long run is good, and they chose that path, then I think it makes them strong. If a character has that choice but chooses the easy way out, then I would say that is what makes them weak because they aren’t willing to go that extra step. Also being brave is a strength. If the character pushes through a tough time by themselves (or with help) and never giving up, then I would say that is what makes them brave and fearless. A weak character wouldn’t push through and they would want people to pity them. Ultimately if they rise up or change something for the better because others pity them, then they are weak.

  55. TheMightyX says:

    I think a strong character is one that can face problems, usually with grave misgivings and still take a deep breath and just do it. They are characters that can rely on the support of others, and not fall to pieces if their support suddenly falls away from them.
    As for being a male and writing a strong female character, I think you did SPLENDIDLY. You are one of the first writers (either male or female) I have read who just innately GET it. Yukiko doesn’t fall to bits when her boys stop being supportive. She did what she needed to do to survive, and was a good person in spite of being required to disobey social mores left and right. Girls are just as passionate as boys are in battles, if need be. They aren’t fragile flowers or perishing princesses, they can be every bit as ruthless as a man to get what they need (and some may argue even more vicious about it. Girls fight to win, and they fight to maim). What I liked best about Yukiko was her ability to distinguish that “Hey, things are broken!” and then try and do something about it. She discarded the role that females traditionally play, and stepped front and center to fix it BECAUSE SHE CAN.
    Well, that was as clear as mud. Thanks for reading it, anyhow (if you got to it) Mr. Kristoff.
    Good luck with your presentation! I hope you will put a YouTube link up so we can watch it! I know you’ll knock it out of the park!

  56. Penny says:

    +1 for proactive rather than reactive. A strong character is one who shapes his or her own destiny, or at the very least takes an active role in shaping it. Weak characters just react helplessly to the situations they find themselves in.
    For this reason I actually feel that Katniss from the Hunger Games often comes across as a pretty weak character (cue flame war, sorry). She very rarely decides what she is going to do and executes her own plan. The few times she actually makes a decision she’s quickly derailed by circumstances and gives up on her plan. She reacts well to the situations she finds herself in (and kicks ass), but very rarely thinks about what kind of future she wants for herself. She’s at her best when she’s doing things, has a plan and is executing it. She’s at her worst (and IMO most annoying) when others are controlling the situation and she’s just going along with it.

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