Trinity Syndrome

Trinity Syndrome might be a cool-sounding term, but you’ll feel differently after you read editor and film critic Tasha Robinson’s article on why it’s ruining a lot of female characters in recent films.

Earlier this year, I also sounded off on the topic of what makes a strong female character. Many of Robinson’s points mirror mine, but she also fleshes out the topic with lots of examples from recent films. Perhaps the most troublesome examples are the ones from children’s films, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Lego Movie.

For my fellow writers, I think Robinson’s article is well worth a look, because she includes a list of questions to help catch if you’re short-changing your female character. Truthfully, it’s a good checklist to make sure any character serves a legitimate purpose to the plot of your story while remaining something more than rescue bait or some other stereotype.

“Strong Female Character” is just as often used derisively as descriptively, because it’s such a simplistic, low bar to vault, and it’s more a marketing term than a meaningful goal.
–Tasha Robinson

Robinson’s main gripe seems to focus more on when films try to pass off a female character as strong when she isn’t for the purpose of making a buck. Not every female character in a story is going to be strong. Not every male character is either. The point is that if you’re going to make that claim about a character, your story better prove it.

I will admit that I haven’t seen all of the films Robinson mentions, so I’m curious to read what the rest of you think. Are there any examples where she’s overreacting, or do you think she hits the mark?

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About Bill Blume

Bill Blume discovered his love for the written word while in high school and has been writing ever since. His latest book Gidion's Blood is being released on August 11th by Diversion Books. His short stories have been in many fantasy anthologies and various ezines. Just like the father figure in his first novel, Bill works as a 911 dispatcher for Henrico County Police and has done so for more than a decade. He also served as the 2013 chair for James River Writers in Richmond, which produces one of the nation’s best annual conferences for educating and connecting writers.
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2 Responses to Trinity Syndrome

  1. JW Arlock says:

    I have to agree with her main gripe. Why make a point of creating a strong character (male or female) then to have it to devolve into little more than scenery? Actually the answer to that is because the character was ‘inserted’ into the story solely so that they can say they have a strong female character (YA I’m looking in your direction).


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