Updated: Jan 14
With the help of feminism (NOT the anti-men kind) and people supporting equality amongst the sexes, women now have more equal rights than ever before, and are also perceived as strong, intelligent individuals. Their strength and success continues to be portrayed and represented across all types of media, so this article provides six tips on how to create strong female characters who are realistic, relatable and representative.
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1. Give Them a Goal
Whether you are writing fantasy, romance, historical, or crime, give your female characters a goal to accomplish by the end of the novel.
Having a goal shows ambition and independence, but it takes a certain level of motivation and strength to finally achieve it.
Perhaps your female protagonist is training to become a qualified doctor, but suddenly meets the man of her dreams - make sure she accomplishes her goal despite the distractions.
2. Give Them an Ability
Give your female characters an ability that helps her achieve their goal.
If you are writing science fiction, maybe they are the only character who can decipher alien languages. Perhaps in your mystery novel, your female detective has the ability to think logically.
Think about Hermione from the Harry Potter series - her intelligence and sharp memory saves the trio from many dangerous situations.
3. It's Not All About Beauty
Quite often, female characters are described as having beautifully curled locks or piercing blue eyes, but what about the rest?
Yes, it helps to have a visual image of what the characters look like, but beauty is not the only thing your female character has.
Having a rounded female character who is more than just a pretty face is more realistic and empowering.
4. Reveal Their Emotions
Writing a strong female character does not mean you have to make them as emotionless as possible. Unless expressing emotions is a struggle for them, suppressing them and acting 'tough' to show strength will only display the opposite.
Think about how real women react to different situations and implement those reactions into your fictional world.
Do they blush with embarrassment when messing up in front of their crush? Do they punch walls if things go wrong? Do they cry when losing someone?
5. Make Them Struggle
Despite their strengths and abilities, give your female characters something they struggle with. Their difficulties do not have to stop them from achieving their goal, but they will appear much stronger if reaching it is not an easy ride.
Maybe your female protagonist dreams of being a lawyer but lives in a time where women are restricted.
Think about the last book you read - what struggles did the characters face before reaching their goal?
6. Make Them Fight Back
Whether your female protagonist is getting bullied, threatened, or attacked, make them stand their ground if it's in their personality to do so. If other characters always have to save their skin, they will end up looking weak and useless.
However, this does not mean that they have to get into fights - they may have the intelligence to outsmart the villain, or they may have a knack for witty remarks.
Picture your favourite female characters and think about the different ways they stand up for themselves.
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ABOUT THE EDITOR
Hey! I'm Chelsea and I'm the book editor and proofreader at Stand Corrected Editing, my independent literary consultancy in the UK. I help passionate writers and authors to get their novels ready for literary agents or self-publishing.
In weekly blog posts, online courses and daily Instagram posts, I hope to spread my knowledge and expertise on how to make your novel a success, and be a mentor to others who desperately want to pursue a fruitful career as an author!
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