Women are complex people. But we’re just that. People. Some writers (both male and female themselves) have issues writing a strong, female character that doesn’t make me want to punch her in the tit. Too real? Moving on. Here are a few of the things you shouldn’t do if you want to write a strong female character that doesn’t make people fucking hate her.
I swear to the goddess, if I read one more allegedly strong woman character who hates other women, I’m going to burn the fucking novel. I’m not kidding. It’s fine. Your strong female character isn’t like other women in one way or another. that does not make her superior. that does not make her more virtuous or stronger or smarter. it means just that. she isn’t like other women. your hero or heroine shouldn’t be like everyone else. like ever.
No. More. Slutshaming. Is slutshaming one word? Hell if I know. But in fiction, like in life, it’s a dick move. It’s sexist as all hell. Let your woman enjoy sex, if it’s part of your novel. You don’t have to be explicit about the sex. You don’t have to talk much about it at all. But don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. That head in the sand shit doesn’t go over well. But if your heroine wears a short skirt or has been with more than one human being? She isn’t a fucking slut. She’s a strong. She’s independent. Her fault should have nothing to do with sex. Unless your character is an actual nymphomaniac. Then you can blame sex. Short of that? Hell no.
Allow your strong woman to have moments in which she’s vulnerable in one way or another. Physical strength is not the only facet of the character of a strong woman. But if you make her an ice queen who’s physically strong, people are fucking not going to relate to her. I’m not saying she has to be a blithering idiot. She doesn’t have to cry at greeting cards or puppies or babies or sad movies. But that’s okay if she does. That’s endearing, even. And just because she’s physically strong, that doesn’t mean she has to be emotionally strong all the time. And the physical strength isn’t necessary to her overall strength either. Make her fucking complicated, why don’t you?
Mary Sue sucks. So very, very much. Fuck all, they’re boring. And they’re fucking everywhere. Women that are entirely too normal. They’re not too intelligent. They’re not too charming. They’re not remarkable at work or school. They’re nearly always white. And straight. They’re good looking, but not overtly so. They aren’t outwardly friendly or social. They’re usually a bit mousey. They haven’t done all that much living. They exist only in the context of the people around her. Usually in the case of romantic relationships. Why on earth would we want to read about someone so utterly unremarkable? That isn’t the sort of female character little girls are going to emulate. At least I hope to God it isn’t. The world would be a much more dismal place if more little girls wanted to be Bella than Bellatrix. Disclaimer: I am not endorsing the dark arts. Please don’t become Death Eaters.
Don’t reduce your women to any kind of archetype. It’s really boring. No more seductress to lead the men astray, no more fixer with the maternal instinct hangup, no more prudish academic, no more ice queen boss, no more giggling virgin. They all suck a lot. None of them make for interesting reads. None of them make for compelling, dynamic characters. And they’re all inherently predictable. The seductress gets her comeuppance. The fixer fixes a bad boy. The prude and the ice queen probably just needed a lay. The giggling virgin gets more worldly after she meets the man who changes the state of her hymen. Jesus, it’s trite. Cut the shit. That isn’t endearing you to any readers. Especially not me.
Stop making her femininity a fucking weakness. She doesn’t have to always feel comfortable in her femeninity. Because no woman always feels totally comfortable in her skin. Goddess knows I don’t. Being a woman does not make her weak. Being sensual or sassy or sweet or soft? None of those are bad things. Show me a woman who loves that she’s a woman. Who loves the way that she looks and the way that she feels in her femininity–at least some of the time. And you have me. And I think you have a lot of other people a well. Because if you include the consideration of her own relationship with her femininity, you’ve just created a much fuller, more interesting character. Which is the end game, isn’t it?
She does not need the approval of or support of a male character. Whether it’s romantic, and it nearly always is, or from her father, or a male relative. Whatever the fuck. A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. As the ultimate display of feminism, yes, that was a Gloria Steinem quote. I can’t think of anything better than that to close with. But I’ll give it a try anyway. The short of it is that to write a good female character you have to be a feminist. Before anyone gets their panties in a twist, I need for you all to know what feminism is. The belief that women are equals to men. Financially. In the workplace. In relationships. In the political world. That little girls can grow up to be whatever in the actual fuck they want to be. So essentially? The key to writing a good, strong female character? Know the simple little truth that women are people. And proceed as such.