So today's International Women's Day and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on making female characters and what I've put into mine. This tends to be a tough and sometimes touchy point in writing. There's a hundred bad female tropes from the damsel in to distress to the "dude with boobs," and it makes it feel like writing a female character is some impossible task. What I've found, through research, listening to a hundred podcasts with both male and female authors alike, and just flat out writing, is the simplest answer. Stop trying to write strong female characters and just write a good, human being.
I have several female characters in my story and I never really sat down to make any of them act a certain way. Their being female has been secondary to them being a whole, realistic person. I'm sure if you look at each one, you can find roles to slot each of them in, but I didn't intend any of them to suit a specific role.
I've learned from others that have been there before, the key is simply to focus on making a good character. Think about the women in your actual life and try basing a character off them. So, with these thoughts in mind, let me introduce you to some of the female characters throughout The Paladin.
The first female character you'll run into is Giz Johanson. If we have Jonathan's paladin team work as a Five-Man Band, then Giz would be the Lancer to Reagan's Leader. She's there to counter Reagan's thoughtless whims, keep the group on task, and push doing things by protocol to avoid unnecessary casualties. When Reagan is callous to his new charge Jonathan, Giz is there to comfort him and try to guide him. She never misses an opportunity to challenge Reagan's authority or at least his motives.
The next up, and one that might be scrutinized more closely is Samantha. She is the premiere monster hunter in the larger district that Jonathan operates in. She's given latitude to act outside standard protocols, has some trouble with emotional attachments, and is laser focused on her job.
I have so many other female characters I love in this novel, like Angelina Arriette, the leader of the St. Valentina parish who values the older traditions of the Order, the tag team of St. Michael's Ashley and Juliet, the monotone demonologist and the slightly punk anti-specter, and the Muscle of St. Michael's, Patricia Armstrong. But above them all, one character has grown on me as I wrote her. She's easily my favorite lady of The Paladin.
Katie! No one works harder than her. No one gets let credit than her. And no one could care less about it because she's having such a blast at her job. Katie is a Mason, a sort of helper for the Paladin Order, that takes on way more tasks than she should, sleeps far less than she should, and loves every minute of it. Monsters are her life and she's dedicated herself to learning and cataloging everything she can about them. She's cute, she's friendly, she's so lovable, and her character grew to do so much more in the story than I initially intended her to.
So tell me all about your female characters! If you don't write, tell me about your favorites in movies, TV, anime, books, or wherever! And also, don't forget to be awesome!
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.