Strong Women of Fantasy: Elisa Maza

This is the next installment in my series about strong women characters in sci-fi and fantasy. My goal is to highlight some well-written female characters who are strong leaders, every bit equal to men, and yet still feminine.  

Elisa Maza

I will begin by repeating that a strong female character is not a male character in a woman’s body. Women are inherently different in more than just biology, and those differences are important to portray well in fiction if a strong female character is to be believable. Yes, women can be warriors, leaders, and protectors (traditionally male attributes), just as men can be gentle, calming, and nurturing. But in a story, a strong female character needs to be so much more than just a gender-swapped man.

Many fantasy and sci-fi stories have an overwhelmingly male cast. All too often, the “token female” is just that—serving either as romance/sexual tension, and/or to simply say “this story is all about equality because look a woman.” In this post, I’ll be discussing the character of Elisa Maza from the 90s Disney TV cartoon Gargoyles. In this fantasy adventure story, the cast was, predictably, overwhelmingly male. Elisa may have initially stood out as the “token female,” but it was quickly apparent that she was to be a main character every bit as important as all the male humans and Gargoyles.

Elisa Maza, Police Detective 

Elisa starts out as a strong woman from the get-go, because she’s a New York City police officer. One can’t be a wimp if you’re a plain-clothes cop in the Big Apple. She’s determined, smart, and doesn’t back down when she knows she’s in the right—all traits of a strong woman. She refuses to be bullied (by human criminals or fantastical monsters), and though she uses her authority as a cop to get things done, she uses violence or her gun as a last resort. She also chooses to act rationally rather than react emotionally when faced with the shock of meeting living Gargoyles for the first time.

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Strong Women of Fantasy: Wonder Woman

I wrote a series of posts a few years ago about strong women characters in sci-fi and fantasy. My goal was to highlight some well-written female characters who are strong leaders, every bit equal to men, and yet still feminine. I’d like to continue that series with another few posts discussing some other strong female characters. 

First off, a strong female character is not a male character in a woman’s body. Women are inherently different in more than just biology, and those differences are important to portray well in fiction if a strong female character is to be believable. Yes, women can be warriors, leaders, and protectors (traditionally male attributes), just as men can be gentle, calming, and nurturing. We’re all human, after all. But in a story, a strong female character needs to be so much more than just a gender-swapped man. 

Many fantasy and sci-fi stories have an overwhelmingly male cast. All too often, the “token female” is just that—serving either as romance/sexual tension, and/or to simply say “this story is all about equality because look a woman.” I want to cover three female characters (from film, TV, and books) who I believe are excellent examples of well-written strong women. In this post, I’ll discuss Wonder Woman—specifically, as she’s portrayed in the 2017 film. 

Wonder Woman 

Wonder Woman is an iconic character who’s been written, drawn, and performed admirably by so many different people over the years. And of course she’s strong—she’s a superhero, after all. She’s got to flip a few tanks and deflect a few bullets regardless of her gender, because that’s the way comic books work.

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A Glossary of Writerly Jargon, Part 2

Some time ago I wrote a post sharing some writerly jargon: terms that writers use that you may or may not be familiar with. To follow up on that post, here are a few more terms that you’ll likely encounter in the author world: 

In Medias Res 

Latin for “in the middle of things.” It means to start a scene or a story in the middle of the action. Not necessarily in the middle of a heated battle, but for example, in the middle of a conversation or the middle of some other activity that matters to the story. Stories that begin with the main character waking up, getting out of bed, eating breakfast, and so forth can get things off to a very slow start and you risk boring your reader with unimportant actions.

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Writing Technobabble: Z is for Zathras

Welcome to my guide on how to write technobabble! Every post will start with one letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and cover tips and ideas for all you writers of sci-fi. Whether you’re writing about near-future science fiction, far-flung alien worlds, or historical steampunk adventures filled with advanced technology that never was – these posts are designed to help you write convincing and unique tech for your story! 

Z is for Zathras 

So what does Zathras mean? Zathras is a character from the TV show Babylon 5. He is an alien who helps to maintain the Great Machine—an ancient and advanced piece of tech on the otherwise-desolate planet that the Babylon 5 space station orbits.

For this particular A to Z Challenge about technobabble, what Zathras represents goes along with the “X” and “Y” posts. He represents something “other” and strange, and he represents the author just plain having fun with worldbuilding. Zathras is a comical yet enigmatic character who is not very good at explaining how his tech works (or explaining anything, really); but he is wise, intelligent in his own way, and masterful at building and fixing advanced tech, even if he can’t explain how it works.

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Writing Technobabble: Y is for You’re in Charge

Welcome to my guide on how to write technobabble! Every post will start with one letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and cover tips and ideas for all you writers of sci-fi. Whether you’re writing about near-future science fiction, far-flung alien worlds, or historical steampunk adventures filled with advanced technology that never was – these posts are designed to help you write convincing and unique tech for your story! 

Y is for You’re in Charge 

As we come to the end of this blogging challenge, and all of the tips, tricks, and advice I’ve given, this is perhaps the most important: you’re the author, so you’re in charge.

Yes, there are guidelines and expectations for the different sub-genres of science fiction. Yes, you should read some writing craft books to get good at basic storytelling techniques. Yes, you should write and re-write, get feedback from critique partners and beta readers, and get an editor for your story—not just hit “publish” on Amazon after cranking out a first draft of your first attempt at a sci-fi novel.

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Writing Technobabble: X is for Xeno

Welcome to my guide on how to write technobabble! Every post will start with one letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and cover tips and ideas for all you writers of sci-fi. Whether you’re writing about near-future science fiction, far-flung alien worlds, or historical steampunk adventures filled with advanced technology that never was – these posts are designed to help you write convincing and unique tech for your story! 

X is for Xeno 

I mentioned the word “xeno” in my P is for Prefixes post. Xeno is originally from an ancient Greek word that means “stranger,” “alien,” or “foreign.” It’s usually used as a prefix to create compound words. For example, the word “xenolith” is used in geology and it refers to any type of rock that is different in type and composition from the surrounding igneous rock.

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