Every character in your story needs to be well rounded, especially the primary characters (the protagonist and the ones that are closely connected to the plot), and the secondary ones as well. However, when it comes to writing female characters, it can get tricky to get a strong female character right. The main problem seems to be that there exists a misconception that strong female characters act like men, which is not true. Strength can have many forms, both physical and psychological, and any character can be strong, be it a man or a woman. So what is the right way? The answer would be that there isn’t a right way to write a female character – in fact, whichever methods you would use to create a well-rounded male character should apply when you’re writing female characters. Below are five tips to help you.
If your protagonist is a female character, or if she is a secondary character that is closely interconnected with the plot, then she needs to have a certain agency. She makes decisions that affect the plot, and those decisions need to always flow form her character, her personality, rather than simply because you need her to do so. Also, she needs to act, instead of simply tagging along, or waiting for action to come to her.
If you try to describe your character’s roles in your story, and write the words “love interest” next to a female character, then you’ve written a cliché. She will probably be a beautiful female, who will probably need to be rescued by the hero, in some way, which will, in turn, be the reason why they fall in love. Real life, however, doesn’t work that way. Romance should be as realistic as possible, which brings us back to character motivation, opinion, and behavior. The beautiful woman your character falls in love with, should be as real as any other characters in your story, and needs to have a deep emotional connection with the male character for them to have a romantic relationship.
We’ve all read that one book where the female characters had little to no interaction whatsoever, or, the women interact with each other in a sinister, almost hypocritical way, and are hateful towards each other. While this is okay, if they have a reason to be antagonistic towards each other, a show of strength in a woman’s character also comes from her behavior towards other women. Women are friendly with each other, and they rarely live isolated from female interaction. In fact, they talk a lot. Unless the background of your character implies that she has never had an opportunity to interact with other female characters, then there is no reason for you not to include interactions and dialogue between girlfriends, or sisters.
One of the best ways to make a character seem realistic is to show their attitude on the pages of your story. When it comes to strong female characters, their strength can be shown through their attitude. For example, think about how a male character would react in a certain situation, and then, change the gender of the character. They should, in theory, react the same way, however, you must be careful, because their internal dialogue would be different. This comes from the fact that you cannot create a male character, and then simply change the gender. Women, and girls, think differently than men, this is true, but it is also true that no two male characters would think the same thoughts.
Leadership roles aren’t only for men. It all comes from what kind of a character you’ve created. A strong character is charismatic, and draws other people to listen to them, and will often lead instead of follow. When it comes to female characters, this is important, because often, women are depicted as following a man’s lead. However, a strong female character should be a leader just as any male character would be, especially if she is the protagonist of your story. If she is not the leader, then she shouldn’t be simply following someone else’s lead, but be at the leader’s side, helping him achieve his goal.
Image credit: Nathan O’Nions on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic.
As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.