Writing Ramblings: From Rags to Power


It’s not a secret. I’m a sucker for a good fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist, especially when said female protagonist doesn’t realize her strength. Mostly because, you know, girl power.

But the problem is there’s this trope in the fantasy genre that’s a little…overdone. You know the one. The ordinary peasant girl with no powers whatsoever finds out that she’s super powerful. Like you know, there hasn’t been anyone like her in forever.

I get it. The girl who finds out she’s powerful, the girl who came from nothing, makes for an interesting story. People always love a good rags to riches story. And more importantly, we all want to be super special, so by having a super special protagonist, we get to live out that fantasy. And isn’t that part of the joy of reading? Living out the things we might never experience? Escaping from our reality?

But every time I see that said protagonist has a super rare gift, I roll my eyes. Every time characters are surprised by her powers, I roll my eyes. She has two powers instead of one? Very few people have more than one power? I mean, come on.

So if we need a protagonist who is special, who’s worth telling a story about, how do we go about that without creating a chosen one-esque character?

In fantasy, our protagonists don’t have to be chosen ones. They don’t have to have a super special power. There doesn’t need to be a prophecy. But they can be determined, and they can really want something. It’s not always about power. It’s about desire.

So make what they desire worth while. Make them exceptionally brave. Make them exceptionally determined. But you don’t have to make them exceptionally powerful.

Instead, they can work with others who have strengths they don’t possess.

Instead, they can fight to survive and suffer for it.

Instead, what makes them great and what makes their story worth telling is what they overcame and how they got there. The person with the strongest power isn’t always the most interesting. Sometimes, it’s the person with the strongest will.

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