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Writing better female characters is covered in a lot of writing advice. Many of these pieces will preface their comments with sarcastic comments like ‘Women are people too, duh’. This sort of statement, I think, should make the topic a moot point – not how to write better female characters but how to write better characters. Period. And yet… Half the population apparently needs its own set of rules for being represented well in prose.
There are a number of default assumptions we have a tendency to make when representing women. For instance, we are far more likely to comment on a woman’s appearance than a man’s. We ask writers to think about the stereotypes they may be promoting as they write – we all do it. Change starts when we attempt to recognise the problems. One such issue is the common inclusion of a female protagonist who is entirely isolated from other women. Women can (and do!) have friends, and they don’t always need to be pitted against each other.
In this episode, we cover common advice we see doled out on writing better characters – from the advice that works and that which makes us groan. We also cover a few of our own tips for creating well-rounded characters, be they male or female or intersex.
In the end, writing good female characters comes down to writing good characters. And what does that mean? Make them interesting and try to avoid blindly promoting potentially harmful stereotypes.
Texts mentioned in this episode include:
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Sierra Burgess is a Loser
- Dead Snow
- The Power by Naomi Alderman
- Starborn by Lucy Hounsom
- The Hunt by Tim Lebbon
- Rogue One
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens