On Writing Real Women

I see/hear/read this a lot: How do I write real women? Any tips on crafting strong female characters? 

I like that people–men and women both–are asking this question more these days. And I have Ideas about how to address such a question.

How to write real women?

*pushes up glasses* OOOOH OOOOH I got this!

Write REAL PEOPLE.

Men. Women. Every gender humans can identify as, every outlook, every D&D alignment, every race, religion, credo…every damn one. Humans out and about, human-ing in the human-iest ways possible.

What this entails in real time is trickier but I’m trying always to allow my characters their humanness: flaws, triumphs, petty spats, weaknesses, epic strengths, quirks, tics and all five and then some senses. I don’t always succeed, either, because writing is hard work and writing well is even harder. But to me, as a woman, a REAL WOMAN is just that: a person. Doing the things that real people do…fighting, loving, eating cereal, falling into existential crises, kicking butt, falling on (her) butt, winning, and so very often, failing epically.

As an aside, one of my good friends posted a “Real Women Have Curves” meme thingy and I remembered another one I saw on Facebook and that I actually shared. Real women have curves. And real women are skinny, or tall or short or average height; they are every weight and color and they have four-chambered hearts and skeletal systems that support a complex mechanism of interrelated systems of organic tissues.*

And guess what? It’s the same for men.

Real men? They are people and noble and ignoble and wimps and strong and weak and wrong and right and alpha, beta, omega and they sometimes eat cereal. Real men also have four chambered hearts and skeletal systems that support a complex mechanism of interrelated systems of organic tissues.*

*Please note that in writing fiction, our ‘real’ people might not actually be people or have skeletons but you know what I mean.

So yeah, I dunno. People are people, as Depeche Mode sagely noted back in the olden days. And if I write people as people, I cannot help but think they’ll come across as real, no matter what gender I’m writing. I know this issue is complex: as complex as we people are ourselves. But seeing women as people, writing women as people, and doing the same for any other people? It has to be a good start.

Any thoughts, the three very real people who read this blog?

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