Wow, this is a tough one. It's like trying to name a favorite flavor of ice cream. They're all delicious in their own way. But here are some that have stuck in my mind.
There's Scarlett O'Hara, of course, who's wily, wild, and stunningly beautiful. How can you compare her in-your-face presence to the quiet strength of Jane Austen's Elinor Dashwood (so wonderfully played by Emma Thompson in the movie)?
And speaking of Jane Austen and Emmas, Emma Woodhouse is also one of my favorite female literary characters.
There's the mystery set: Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone, Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta. And let's not forget Millie Benson's Nancy Drew!
Then there's the mystery-suspense/comedy heroines, including Lori Avocato's Pauline Sokol, Stevi Mittman's Teddi Gallo, and of course, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum.
On the romance side, Joy Nash's heroines are always strong and intelligent. My favorite was Rhiannon in Celtic Fire.
I loved Amy Tan's LuLing in The Bonesetter's Daughter, and Alice Walker's Celie in The Color Purple.
There are dozens--maybe hundreds--more. But as Dorothy Parker once said, "Brevity is the soul of lingerie."