Writing Female Characters:


Strong, independent, and savvy female characters, where are you?  Literature is lagging when it comes to producing works with female protagonists. Oftentimes the roles of women are relegated to the love interest, the high-strung unfeeling boss, prissy cheerleader, or the man-hater. This has been an issue in plenty of my writing workshops.

Poor Writer: There’s a lot working for your story, but in terms of character, your female voices are static with cliché lines in their limited dialogue like, “OMG,” or, “That’s totally cute.”

Male Classmate: Well, you guys say stuff like that and I didn’t really think it was that important since they’re not central to the story.

Poor Writer: Ok, though if all of your characters were fleshed out, their dialogue cleaned up and humanized, then overall your story would be stronger.

Male Classmate: My story’s already good. Yeah, I could do better with the female characters, but a lot of guys that are published write women this way, so I really don’t have to worry about it.

Poor Writer: So, you’re above writing decent dialogue for women? You know women, what they sound like. Your mom’s a woman. You’d only benefit by improving your female characters. Everyone has to revise anyway.

Male Writer: I have other things I want to focus on. This really isn’t a big deal.

Why is it so impossible to write women well? Why is it when a book, television show, or film centered around women comes out, it has the public view of just for women, but when the same mediums revolve around men, it’s acceptable for everyone?

Often enough I see the female protagonist reprising her role of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and I’m sick of it. I don’t want to read books where women are vapid talking heads, whose sole purpose in life is to make their man happy. I don’t want to read about a woman’s staggering beauty and IQ of a middle schooler,  but has feisty attitude (feistiness being an undervalued trait).

I want well-rounded, confident, and interesting female characters. I’m not asking too much.


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