Two Stereotyped Kinds of Women and How to Avoid Them
I am very particular about the females in the books that I read, especially the main female character. These days, it gets hard to find a clean book with a realistic and relatable female main character—even in novels written by women.
Ladies in books tend to fall into two very different categories: the Weeper, and the Warrior. Both of these are drastically enhanced versions of two very different personality traits found in basically girls. Writers have taken two extremes in women, and eliminated all other character from them; half of the women found in books nowadays are more caricatures than characters.
The Characteristics of The Warrior
She is frequently the leader of an army or a country. She wears pants, and finds skirts horrible (can frequently be heard saying, “Who wears those?” or “I can’t move in them!”). She does not cry. She does not do a whole lot of quiet conversing . She does not wear her hair long—or if she does, she always has it put up. She is fantastic with fighting, and can beat practically anyone (in spite of the size and strength differences between males and females).
She is always hard and quick, and has very little moments where you see her emotions.
The Characteristics of a Weeper
The classic lady in distress, she has a tendency to stand back when the hero fights (or, worse, faint). She spends a lot of the time crying; she does not wear pants, does not carry a sword. She often gets kidnapped by a dragon. She can frequently be found in older movies (Westerns, for example).
She does not shout (though she sometimes screams) and does not hide her emotions.
The problem with both of these character types? No one is like that.
Sure, some people hide their emotions more than others. Some people would faint at the sight of blood (but I honestly can’t think of anyone I know who would), and some are good at physical combat.
The author takes something away from them when he or she makes their character to be like this. Humans are complicated beings. They contradict themselves in their personality, they’re different from any other person in the world. Your characters are worth making into realistic, relatable people. I don’t tend to go on adventures frequently. It’s the strange thing about living in modern America; dragons don’t visit very often. Therefore, to make me go on an adventure with your characters, you have to make your characters as alive as you can possibly make them.
You have to find a balance between a strong female character and a female female character.
You need to realize that no one will hate you for having a female character who is not overly strong.
Those who care enough to read your books will be looking for honest characters. They will want a girl, who just happens to be strong, not the other way around.
You also need to realize that no one will hate you for having a girl who is strong.
Because, to be honest, we readers aren’t too picky after you get your characters past the cliches.
Make your characters female.
Make them alive.
Make them honest.
Anything else—whether they lead an army, or end up fainting a half-dozen times in three hundred pages is up to you.
After that, you will have to go through the general character development process. But look out for these two character types in your novel, and give the characters more than a stereotyped appearance; make them deeper than that.