Breaking the Mold
Breaking the Mold aka Why Hermione Granger is a Refreshing Change
There are usually two kinds of female characters: the tough, intense chick with a dark past and mysterious nature or the happy (almost clueless) feminine girl who everyone loves.
That 'or' should not be there. It should be an 'and'. Most writers/people-in-general that I have talked with forget that someone can be tough and feminine, can be mysterious and happy, and can have feelings while still being strong.
The "strong" characters become emotionless, and the characters with real emotions become weak. Don't get me wrong, I love the females who can stand on their own and do some major damage, but when the price of that is their emotions being discounted as weakness, that is when they become something to be re-written.
Hermione Granger has very real emotions while being very tough. She cries, has moments of regret and pain, yet she maintains her fire and fight. She can stand on her own.
Not to mention, she doesn't fall into the stereotype of the nerdy, smart girl with glasses and a pompous answer for everything. She may be bossy at times, she may be a bit of a know-it-all, but in the end, she is just a girl who does well on her school-work.
She doesn't fall for the "Chosen One", and she doesn't treat Harry any differently for being "special".
Hermione Granger was a revolutionary female character to the world of literature.
So when you are writing your female characters, don't strip them of emotion to make them tough, and don't make them weak to be feminine.