Female Parts: Thoughts in Character Development
A recent health scare had me contemplating the essence of the female character? What are the essential markers?
I love this flowchart from Overthinkingit.com
While convoluted, it shows us the multitude of character types attributed to the female character.
As an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, not all the characters I come across are human. OR, what happens if there is an event that causes the normal, physical cues to be eliminated?
We’ve all see the book cover art where there is a buxom woman of impossible proportions posed provocatively with ridiculously designed, sometimes barely there, clothing. These covers are spread across genres. Sometimes, the females on the covers have very little to do with the actual story. They are specifically designed to lure in and capture the libido-driven consumer. sigh At least if it is a romance novel, we know the female character on the cover will be in the book.
I know, I seem to be rambling. I’ll get to my point.
You can make a character female by emphasizing their feminine traits. If you are writing about an alien race, defining their physical characteristics should be done swiftly. Breasts, vaginas, and wombs don’t have to be the sole reason a character is female. Unless you are writing erotica, romance, or something that is explicit, the body parts are peripheral to who the character is.
Erin Bowman wrote On ‘Strong’ Female Characters (I recommend the read) said the following:
Women are people. People are varied. As varied and complex as male characters like Sherlock, who might be considered strong because he Gets Things Done and Solves All The Crimes, but who is a multitude of other things first.
Writing a flawed, conflicted person is more realistic than having a kick-ass character with the depth of a micron. Before I get pounced upon, being kick-ass isn’t wrong. If you write a character that is scared of everything and insecure and they go and kick-ass to prove whatever point/agenda they have, it doesn’t make sense. I loved the post written by Kitty How Not to Write a Female Character on the Impish Idea blog (another post to read):
Female characters should be characters first and female second. The fact that they’re women shouldn’t get in the way of their other traits.
We, the author, is what determines whether a character is male, female, or other. Our job is to make our reader see the character without being being trite or obvious (unless you’re writing the above mentioned exceptions).