F278. CANCELLED: Not Here to Be Nice: The Burden of Likability on Female Characters

Room 303, Henry B. González Convention Center, Ballroom Level
Friday, March 6, 2020
3:20 pm to 4:35 pm


Female protagonists are frequently judged based on a mercurial notion of likability. This panel will discuss the benefits and challenges of writing complex women; the yoke of likability and how to throw it off; how authenticity and complexity, especially in women of color, are judged by more exacting standards; and how we can deliver nuanced female protagonists who make mistakes, have flaws, and are valued for their humanity, not their likability.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: AWP_2020_Event_Outline_2_23_20.pdf



Frances de Pontes Peebles is the author of the novels The Seamstress and The Air You Breathe. Her books have been translated into ten languages and won the Elle Grand Prix for fiction, the Friends of American Writers Award, and the James Michener-Copernicus Society of America Fellowship.

Asali Solomon is the author of Disgruntled. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for the stories later collected in Get Down, her first book. In 2007 she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35. Solomon teaches fiction writing and literature at Haverford College.

Melissa Rivero is the author of The Affairs of the Falcóns. She works as in-house legal counsel at a start-up in New York.


March 4–7, 2020
San Antonio, TX

Henry B. González Convention Center