The reason I wanted to write a post about ‘adventure books for girls’ is because Saltwater Taffy is not simply a book for those reluctant tweenage boys. Sure, the main character of Saltwater Taffy is a boy, but one of the most liked characters in the ensemble cast of Saltwater Taffy is the character of Jaq…a girl!
When a writer sits down to write adventure books for girls, the first order of business is to make sure they create strong female characters. All too often, the writer makes the mistake of creating weak ‘damsels in distress’ situations so the hero, the boy, can come in and ‘save the day’ on his proverbial white horse. To this, I have to say, blahhhhhh….boring, boring, boring.
While the damsel in distress archetype might work for other forms of literature, it does not work when writing adventure books for girls. Tween girls want to read about girls their age who…for lack of a better word…ROCK! Tween girls want to read stories where the girl is not only relatable, but is a girl who is triumphant on her own, not because of some boy. Sure, boys are important to girls at this age, but when we’re talking about adventure books for girls, the girl wants to read about an adventurous character that just happens to be a girl!
I mean, let’s shake up the house here and perhaps have the girl come in and save the boy from a distressful situation? How about we create the girl as the strongest character of the bunch? When I sat down to write Saltwater Taffy, yes…I admit…I wanted to create a story to match the adventures my brother and I had when we were growing up, but I also wanted to make sure I included a strong female character as well.
Sure, Jaq is concerned about her place in the world, being an outcast to the other girls at school and yes, being called a tomboy, but that doesn’t mean she has to be some feeble character who needs a boy to come in and ‘save her.’ She’s flawed like any good character is, but I made sure to make her strong and independent as well! During their adventure, Jaq has a distinctive voice of a leader and is often the voice of all things adventure. I love that. Thanks to my mother, who is a strong woman in her own right, I always write female characters who are strong and NOT the typical ‘damsel in distress’ type.