Erin Lindsey describes of the no-win situation as you dare to craft your female protagonist. She must be strong, but not so superhuman that she’s a Mary Sue. And she must be recognisably female, but not a feminine stereotype. When creating your heroine:
balance is key. Like, say, walking a tightrope. Over a bed of pikes. Writhing with asps.
And she explains the ‘dangers’ of writing antiheroines:
if she drinks and swears and occasionally acts like an arrogant jackhole, we’re probably going to dislike her.
Case in point, from the first draft of my non-working novel:
I adore Troya, but she is a complete Marmite character. My husband loathes her and says he wouldn’t read my novel. One of my friends thinks she’s amazing. My Monday writing group ranges between strong dislike and bouts of incredulous laughter.
There’s a secondary issue that I’m writing a hard-SF crime novel. And – on average – readers of hard SF don’t like Troya. Her fanbase – I’ve noticed – is mostly among fantasy readers. Troya is prone to disrupting my ideas-based content in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-style ways (turning up to places hungover, drunk, half-asleep or late… and then telling the reader about it). She is, as another character describes her:
A disrespectful, arrogant, unrepentantly psychopathic little scumbag
What do I do? Carry on writing her because 50% of readers will love her…with the expectation that the rest will throw the book across the room? Write someone less divisive, but also less memorable and fun to write. Write her into a novel or novella that is more character-driven and less ideas-based hard SF.
Answers on a postcard.
I don’t know how Takeshi Kovacs gets away with it…