How to be strong and go to prom, with Allison Argent

Posted: March 11, 2013 in How to... (Writing Tips)
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Here’s the next post in this series where I discuss TV shows and movies and the knowledge that we can gain from watching them. We can apply that knowledge to our writing. As always, I never pretend to be an expert. I just like exploring my own thoughts on the matter as I write these blog posts! I welcome all comments and would love to hear what you think about this topic.

Make sure you check out my previous post, titled, “How to have a massively intelligent character without alienating your audience, with Charlie Eppes.”

Allison Argent is one of the main characters on the show Teen Wolf, and she has a complicated life. Her boyfriend is a werewolf and her parents are werewolf hunters. It’s your classic Romeo and Juliet type storyline, but with a twist.

In season 2, her parents have forced her to stop seeing Scott. Her mother – who is one intense individual, let me tell you – tells her that she has to be strong. She tells her that she shouldn’t want to be like those other girls that only worry about boyfriends and prom. Allison replies with the question, “Can’t I be strong and go to prom?”

Teen Wolf Allison Dancing

This line is a perfect summary of the type of person Allison is. She’s not a tomboy, but she’s not a girlie-girl either. She’s a perfect blend of femininity and strength.

Oftentimes, unfortunately, female characters that are presented as strong lose their softer sides. It seems that many writers have trouble balancing these two sides of a woman. Just think about Katniss. She’s tough. She’s strong. And she usually comes off as someone that is not good with emotions or vulnerability or intimacy.

And while that’s fine for a character like Katniss, whose personality has been shaped by the tragedies in her life, that won’t work for every single female protagonist (or antagonist for that matter).

Or every male protagonist. This isn’t exclusive to females, but I think we tend to pick up on it faster because we’ve been trained to see men as the heroes and females as the damsels in distress.

Teen Wolf Allison and BowThis is where Allison comes in. She’s tough. She can wield a bow like she was born with one in her hand. She’s faced down werewolves and other monstrous creatures. She’s had to deal with betrayal, tragedy, and death.

And yet, she cries. She gets scared. She loves Scott and would do anything for him. She’s smart, but she’s real. She’s a girl.

She’s complicated.

So many times writers want to have that strong female protagonist in their stories, but they end up sacrificing the complexities of the character. They become one-dimensional, and that’s no good.

So, how do you avoid that? It’s hard because your character’s circumstances have to dictate their personality. There’s a lot of things that go into making someone who they are – whether they’re a real person or fictional. But the best piece of advice I can come up with is to not limit yourself. Make them strong and tough and fearless. But nobody is like that 100% of the time. Make them weak when it comes to their family, afraid when it comes to the possibility of losing their boyfriend. Strength and weakness are not mutually exclusive. We all have our triggers, and we all have our soft spots. Our characters should too.

Who’s your favorite strong female character? Do you have a tough girl in one of your stories? How do you balance her strengths and weaknesses so she comes across like a real person?

And if you want another examples of a strong female character that is also vulnerable, check out my post on Emma Swan.

  1. I always take it for granted how much I like Allison. Scott as well and their relationship in general. Like you said, so many times the ‘girlfriend’ in the hero’s story comes off flat and unlikable. But Allison is so cute and interesting while still managing to be heroic and powerful. Glad you’re pointing it out because she deserves more lovin

    • Karen Rought says:

      Totally agree, Brook! I kept thinking about it more and more since we brought it up on the podcast. I know a lot of people don’t like her right now, but when she’s not crazy, she’s kind of awesome.

  2. EM Castellan says:

    A great post! But you’ve reminded me I miss this show A LOT. Grr 😉

  3. […] Make sure you check out my previous post, titled, “How to be strong and go to prom, with Allison Argent.” […]

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