I have a problem.
It’s quite an embarrassing one, given who I am and what I do; but they say the way to solve any problem is first to admit that you have one, so here goes.
I struggle to write female characters.
Now, this is an issue for multiple reasons. The first being, well, books generally have them in, and the second one is…I’m female. If you met me, there’d be no doubt in your mind. I don’t think I have a rugged line or bone in my body.
I’m small, round and squeaky. Which makes my issue all the more of a problem.
You see, people seemed to just assume that I’ll be good at writing women. Hell, I assumed I’d be good at writing women. I really thought that the moment I picked up the pen, my inner Goddess would just flow out like a stream of feminine consciousness.
Yeah, I know. Spoiler: that didn’t happen.
When I sat down at the keyboard to write my first real story, what came out was a psychopathic male with an ego the size of a country and a love for power, along with a staunchly loyal best friend who can punch the shit out of anyone, an all American protagonist and a fabulously gay demon. It was quite a shock, to tell you the truth.
That particular story was written over the course of a week and has still got more potential, but my point remains.
I genuinely struggle to write female characters.
Now, I will admit, I’ve never been particularly feminine — except in my body shape. I struggle to form lasting friendships with a lot of women, and I actively had to go and educate myself about why anyone would want to wear make-up — I never have, it didn’t even occur to me to wear it to my sister’s wedding. Growing up, I always thought of myself as having quite a male-esque mind, but still…
I’m a female. Discovering that, of all things, women were my weak point was quite a hit to my pride.
I’ve learned to counter this weakness
I’ve done it in, what to you might seem like an obvious way — once my friend suggested it to me I had a real face-palm moment — but I promise you, if you are struggling to get to grips with a character, any character, this is a lifesaver.
Go download yourself a character profile worksheet.
Just go do it, I’ll wait.
Believe me, I didn’t lie; it’s a lifesaver. I’ll even link mine at the bottom here for you if you’re really hard-pressed to open a new tab. It’s nothing special, I just googled it, but you can use it.
It saved my book.
All the random, stupid little questions it asks, forced me to get deeper into the mindset of my character and allowed me to relax. Once I knew that, well, she might work at the grocery store now, but she actually wants to train as a ballerina and go on tour…or that her favourite meal really is porridge…somehow, the words just came to me. I connected with a side of myself that I’d never examined before.
When I started out my writing journey, I knew I’d learn about myself. I never expected to find that I, through words at least, could become a real girl.
My character worksheet. Feel free to copy.
Sophie, signing out.