What Makes a Strong Female Character?

I’m getting ready to write a guest post for the wonderful Laura Howard and I’d LOVE your help. I want to know what makes a strong female character. While I’ll do my best not to bother including the book-with-sparkly-vamps-that-shall-not-be-named, I can’t guarantee it, but my focus is on what YOU, the readers, look for in a strong heroine.

For example, I think one of the reasons my main character from Gifted, Lucy, is strong because even though she doubts her abilities (despite everyone around her being impressed), she still does what she can to push herself. She doesn’t want to grow lazy or lose her talent, so she keeps at it, knowing she can’t depend on anyone but herself to get better. It’s not necessarily about being better than other Firestarters or proving her worth to others – more like she wants to grow as a gifted being, to do her very best even if it doesn’t make her the best. Does that make sense?

Another great example is, of course, Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, but what is it about her that makes her a strong female character? Her intellect is sharp, sure, and she can do better magic than almost everyone else. But that’s something about her, I feel, that helps mold her into who she is. It’s who she grows into that makes her strong, her ability to stand up for what’s right, her passion to help others, the determination she has to help her friends. Anyone can be smart, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a great character.

I better save some characters and their quirks up my sleeve for the actual post, but what do you all think? I’d love to hear it in the comments so that I might include it in the post for Laura’s readers! (Plus, it helps give me great ideas on how to strengthen my own characters and make sure I’m giving you the best I got! See? It’s actually for purely selfish reasons.) It can be whatever you think makes a great female character. Name some examples of your favorites and why they rock!