Last year, the social media campaign #ReadWomen2014 took the issue of women’s fiction into the mainstream. They found that not only were book reviewers missing out on women authors, but the bookshelves of the average reader lacked books written by women – and female characters in general. Lists popped up all over the internet giving readers the names of women authors and must-read books by women. And with this enhanced scrutiny, debates sprang up over whether female characters had the right to be unlikable or if we were losing all of our strong female characters to Trinity Syndrome or if audiences would ever warm to anti-heroines.
Amidst these debates, we realized there was a need for a larger discussion of female characters, beyond unlikable female characters versus strong female characters versus anti-heroines. After all, there are as many different ways to bring female characters to life as there are women in the world, but so many of the nuances of women’s personalities and experiences never make it into popular, mainstream art. We wanted to explore all of the possible aspects of female characters, and really highlight those books and authors that are able to create compelling, whole, interesting, fully-realized – unabridged – female characters with depth, strength of character, and most importantly, agency.
We strongly believe that female characters are not pawns, or tokens, or objects to be acted upon. Women in fiction should be free to make decisions that affect their own storylines, to take ownership of their own desires and motivations, and to exercise their own sense of agency and leadership. We felt there was a real and legitimate need for a space devoted to these unabridged female characters. And by creating that space to highlight the stories (and authors) that showcase these unabridged female characters, we hoped to play at least a small part in moving this larger discussion around female characters into the mainstream.
Before we knew it, RewritingMarySue.com was born. With it, we wanted to create a site that featured more than book reviews and promotional author interviews; we felt there was a real need for articles and essays on crafting fully-realized and compelling female characters or on dismantling the stereotypes and tropes surrounding them. But we didn’t want to stop there. Over the months since Rewriting Mary Sue launched, we have added personal stories from women writers along with the books that speak to those experiences, stories of actual women who defied stereotypes to earn their place in the history books, and short stories, flash fiction, and book excerpts that showcase compelling female characters whose motivations and actions propel their stories forward.
We know in our hearts that stories matter; fiction both mirrors and shapes our realities. Books have the power to change hearts, minds, and lives. Stories can rewrite society. That’s what Rewriting Mary Sue is all about. Our words can change the world.
Amy Good is a U.S. writer in Dublin and the author of Rooted. She is the editor of RewritingMarySue.com, a website dedicated to highlighting compelling and unabridged female characters in fiction. She also manages @StoryBandit, a Twitter-based writing prompt generator. You can find out more about her at Amicgood.com
Karen Faris lives in Rochester NY with her husband and son. She is currently at work on The Winds of Change, a story of family and endurance. She is the author of the comedic dystopian Grumbles the Novel Trilogy. You can find out more about her at grumblesthenovel.com.
Charlotte Ashlock is currently at work on Colonizing Atlantis which is not yet published. You can find out more about her at crazyidealism.com.