Strong Female Characters – how do you not make them a ‘bitch’?

Candice: Phil lent me a book the other week by Adele Parks called ‘Game Over’.  We like Adele as we met her at the Stratford Literary Festival earlier this year.

I haven’t finished the book so I won’t write a review yet, but the main female character is a ‘balls out, no holds barred’ woman who only does one night stands and is totally focused on her career.

Our main character, Kate, was originally more like that, but after some feedback we softened her a little.  Not too much mind as the whole point of these books is that the woman is not ‘wet’!  I hate females that turn into quivering wrecks at the sight of a six pack and then proceed to dribble after a man until they are married and have their first child.

Not that Kate is based on me (she isn’t), but it’s interesting that some of my friends are going back to work after having their first child and there are lots of discussions on Facebook about missing the child and feeling lost.  Um, I don’t really understand that as I didn’t feel like that.  I love Erin but she and I get more out of our day by going to nursery and work respectively. I haven’t said that on Facebook though as I think it would go down like a lead balloon

So, how do you make a female character strong and not make people hate her for either becoming too soft or being so hard you can’t empathize with her?  I think we have got that fine balance but it is that, a fine balance.

Phil has sent me the final big scene for Book 2 this weekend.  It’s cracking and well on the way to bringing it all together, but it does need some other parts adding into the rest of the book to make it make sense.  And part of that is deciding how much Kate is in to Dave.  This book is where their relationship starts to change and we have had a lot of discussions about where their relationship goes long term.

So my job is to go back through what Phil has written and make Kate strong enough but soft enough that we still believe in her and like her.  It’s not going to be easy.


Filed under Candice, Writing

3 responses to “Strong Female Characters – how do you not make them a ‘bitch’?

  1. It may be ok for secondary characters, but the protagonist should have an arc – does she change as the story progresses? Does she learn anything from one night stands?

    • I’ll be really interested to know what Candice thought of “Game over” when she finishes it as I had a real problem with the main character. It seems that to write a strong woman, many people write a ladish bloke and then find’n’replace “he” to “she”. The overall story arc worked for me but I think we are planning something more subtle. Mind you, we are planning it over 5 books, so we have time to work on it as long as the arc progresses in an interesting way in each.

      Of course, I’m not the target market and I don’t really know what goes on in women’s heads, that’s why I have a co-writer to handle that bit!

  2. As far as game over is concerned I can’t tell you as haven’t finished it yet but as Phil said our character Kate is developing book by book, so she is softening each time but in a way that I like to think is believable.

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