I need some help developing my main character and it all comes down to the difficulty of writing a female lead compared to a male lead. The problem is that there seem to be so many requirements of a heroine. She must have a personality that stands out, but not be a manic pixie dream girl. I think this term is used loosely nowadays (like Mary Sue) but it is so hard to write a fleshed out three dimensional female character. For one, they cannot be so strong that they overshadow everyone else because that is deemed "unrealistic" and "trying to hard". I must agree that girls who feel the need to assert themselves in every sentence are annoying. Especially when they can't back it up and end up being saved anyways. My particular problem is that my heroine is quirky. I will admit, she has some traits of mine. But I really hate stock characters and those that help the reader "step into their shoes" so to speak. A character is a character and should not be blank so the reader can somehow relate to them. But too often I see female characters with vibrant personalities who have an impact, whether it be negative or positive, on the people they interact with and are subsequently labeled MPDGs and hated. It seems any female character with a couple of quirks is one of these and I don't want my character to fall into this trope. So how do you go about creating a fleshed out character? Writing about males and females is different. For example, Harry Potter would have been different had Harry been a Mary. Not that it would be less entertaining or epic by any means, but obviously the main character would have acted differently in certain situations. So gender does have an impact. So when writing about a female protagonist, what things should be avoided and what should we strive for? How do you avoid the manic pixie dream girl or mary sue? How do you write in a love interest that isn't overshadowed by her?