Ten Tips for Creating Strong Female Characters
1. Strong female characters should be people first and female second. The fact that they’re women shouldn’t get in the way of their other traits – whether good or bad.
2. All the women in your novel need not be sexy. Are all your male characters gorgeous with no other characteristics?
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3. Most women are not wispy waifs or voluptuous Victoria Secret models. A woman can be attractive and not fit a stereotype.
4. Just because a woman is competent, strong and independent does not mean she has to be a Plain Jane. Think Buffy, Hermione Granger and Scarlett O’Hara.
5. Making your female character good at stereotypical boy things like an auto-mechanic in order to depict she’s a strong character is a cop-out. Sure, she can be a mechanic if that’s what she likes to do, but don’t do it for reason.
6. A lot of women will probably notice bad skin or frumpy outfits on another woman, but beyond that they won’t scrutinize the other woman too hard. They’re way more likely to notice a snooty expression or a false smile.
7. Not all women want marriage and children. Some want one or the other, some want neither. Likewise, not all women want to be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Some want to be psychiatrists or artists or teachers or musicians…or whatever else – just like men.
8. Female characters should probably not be solely motivated by a need to have the approval or attention of a man. Or all men in general, really. Female characters who do this ought to change by the end of the story, and realize that their happiness shouldn’t depend on the whims of menfolk.
9. Avoid overly ‘man-hating’ women. Being empowered doesn’t mean she’s terrible to men just for being men—it just means she’s not stepped on for being a woman
10. Don’t have a female character just to have a female character. Make her a whole person.