Tasha Robinson laments the loss of many Strong Female Characters (a term she acknowledges is “more a marketing term than a meaningful goal”) to what she calls Trinity Syndrome:
For the ordinary dude to be triumphant, the Strong Female Character has to entirely disappear into Subservient Trophy Character mode. This is Trinity Syndrome à la The Matrix: the hugely capable woman who never once becomes as independent, significant, and exciting as she is in her introductory scene.
I’ll be the first to admit I have a lot to learn about writing female characters—which is kind of sad, since Children of Pride and its coming sequel, The Devil’s Due, are chock-full of them! Readers can decide if I’ve written “strong” female characters. Following the checklist Tasha provided, I’m at least on the right track. At any rate, I’m at least fairly sure I’ve written interesting female (and male) characters: motivated, complex, fallible, and, on some level, familiar.
The concluding paragraph is an excellent diagnostic:
So maybe all the questions can boil down to this: Looking at a so-called Strong Female Character, would you—the writer, the director, the actor, the viewer—want to be her? Not want to prove you’re better than her, or to have her praise you or acknowledge your superiority. Action movies are all about wish-fulfillment. Does she fulfill any wishes for herself, rather than for other characters? When female characters are routinely “strong” enough to manage that, maybe they’ll make the “Strong Female Characters” term meaningful enough that it isn’t so often said sarcastically.