Writing a strong female lead

Writing a strong female lead

When the story for Harmonic: Resonance came to me, the main character, Emily was fairly well fleshed out in my mind. My preferred point of view to write in is first person, and this would be my first attempt at writing a female lead. I try to avoid getting caught up in politics as I write, but as an author, father, and husband, I felt a certain responsibility to write a strong female character, and this began an internal conversation as to what a strong female character should be.
I’ve read, and seen on the screen, countless ass-kicking female leads, but that doesn’t work for my style, and as an immersive first person narrative, it gives the reader less to relate to. A character’s strength, to me, can fit into many categories—physical strength, emotional strength, selflessness, strength to do what must be done for the betterment of others … etc. When I looked to my real life experiences with strong female characters, it became clearer what I value as strength. When I think of my young daughter, and of the woman I hope she will grow up to be, it has nothing to do with kicking ass, and everything to do with making the right choices, hard choices, courageous choices, even when natural human instincts work to present easier options and easier ways out.
I have seen the women in my life deal with grief, hardships, loss, and all that life has to throw at them, and I have seen the selfless ways they have dealt with each situation or event. For a wife and mother, every event is viewed as how it will affect the family, her husband, and her children. A strong female character has the resolve to put her family’s needs before her own.
I love the female characters in my life, and I admire their strength. I hope that Emily, will offer something that the reader can relate to, and I hope that her choices will define her as a strong female character.
In the fiction I write, I want to create realistic, flawed characters. Characters who make choices, both good and bad, that I, and my readers, can relate to. Running and hiding seems like a much more relatable action than stepping forward to fist fight a bear, but most mothers would stand between that bear and their children, even though it would be a fight they could not win.

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6 thoughts on “Writing a strong female lead

  1. There are times when I read a female character and know it was written by a man, in the same way the translation of a book, though well done, has tell tale signs that its first language was not English. I did not encounter that with Emily, testament to the women you have drawn on, and your skill as a writer. I’m currently writing from a male perspective, and I only hope I can succeed as you have.

  2. This is a great representation of someone we want the young girls in our lives to look up to. I’m not a mother, but I have a niece that I love more than anyone in the world. I don’t care if she kicks ass, I just want her to face up to choices and to want to do the right thing always, no matter how hard.

  3. A great article. Your perception of what a strong female lead should be is spot on. It’s what I aspire to be like and what I hope my daughters are becoming. I find all the female characters in your books very believable.

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