How can men write compelling female characters?

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watermark

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This is really more a question for the ladies here.

Given that I am a man, I feel less secure writing female characters. First I can't use "Now what would I say in this situation" because in my experience girls usually don't say the same things or act the same way as guys. Second we probably can't just go by best seller lists. For example, by sales Twilight was way up there, but Bella has been heavily criticized as a terrible character by some. (Which actually begs another question: why is a terrible character popular?)

Yet for good games it's necessary to have great female characters. Sometimes I love the idea of having a female protagonist in my game. In fact, I've written one (Brooke in Einherjar, with help from co-writer Nick). I personally think she can be better, but some reviewers think she's okay. Anyway, I want to discuss how to write better ones.

So here are my questions:

1. What do you think makes a good female character?

2. Who are some of your favorite female characters and why? (Could be games, books, or films)

3. What's your advice on writing someone who you are not? This is quite broad. It could be writing someone from another culture, another religion, or another age group that you've not personally experienced before.
 

EthanFox

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1. What do you think makes a good female character?

Strictly speaking, I think you write a good female character by simply writing a good character; the fact that they're female doesn't have a strong bearing on it unless you are going to tackle a topic which hinges on the character being female - e.g. if you were writing something about a character's struggles with sexism, or about certain elements of romance writing (particularly erotic writing) where there are pragmatic concerns.

People worry about writing a good female character, but this is truly what I believe. Your characters just need to have interesting motivations, an "inner life", a compelling arc, express agency in overcoming their struggles... These are exactly the same if you were writing a man, a woman, an animal, an alien creature...

The difference, as I said above, is if you were writing something where "the female perspective" is an important theme in the work. For example, say you were writing about, I dunno, a woman who's trying to be the first female district attorney in 1890s Texas. That's something where a good understanding of a unique female point of view is key to making the story work, but most stories aren't like that.

Most importantly, stories with female leads don't always have to be about sexism, feminism, misogyny, sexual abuse... A female character can just be a female character. The themes of the story don't always have to hinge on what one might call "feminist issues". Not that these stories aren't entertaining; take movies like Hidden Figures or The Help, which were about a range of issues in this area; both great movies... But not every story about a woman needs to be like this.

2. Who are some of your favorite female characters and why? (Could be games, books, or films)

Someone asked me this a while back, and thinking about it, one of my favourite female characters is that of Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex. I liked her because her character was deep and gradually fleshed out over the two seasons.

Another example would be the multitude of female characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender (the tv show). I saw this quite recently as an adult, and I think it's wonderful family television.

3. What's your advice on writing someone who you are not? This is quite broad. It could be writing someone from another culture, another religion, or another age group that you've not personally experienced before.

This is a whole complex area of study, not best resolved in a forum post... But I would suggest you start by arming yourself with as much information as possible. I had a black character in one of my books, and I spent quite a while reading blogs written by people who had already performed this kind of research. I wasn't telling a story about racism or anything, but I wanted to see if there were any pitfalls to avoid; it was a really useful exercise (https://writingwithcolor.tumblr.com/)

For example, by sales Twilight was way up there, but Bella has been heavily criticized as a terrible character by some. (Which actually begs another question: why is a terrible character popular?)
It's always worth remembering that stuff doesn't become popular because it's "good" in a literary sense. Look at 50 Shades. Often a character is loved by the audience just because they're loved by the audience; that's it.

It's much easier to create a character people will like rather than a character that people will necessarily believe in.
 

TheoAllen

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1. What do you think makes a good female character?
I'd repeat the echo by Ethan Fox, simply writing a good character. Namely, motivation, struggles, inner or external conflict, all sorts of things that are relatable to any gender and you want to cuddle her. Except if you add elements that only females have.

2. Who are some of your favorite female characters and why? (Could be games, books, or films)
Personally, it is very biased because I often like a female character majority from the look than anything else, so to fit this category, I rarely have, in fact, I rarely do have fave character. If I were to force to pick one, I would pick Honoka from Love Live for several reasons. Some people may see her as a boring cliche cheerful main character, but I experienced some of her struggles at some point in my life which was quite relatable and I wanted to know more about her.

3. What's your advice on writing someone who you are not? This is quite broad. It could be writing someone from another culture, another religion, or another age group that you've not personally experienced before.
I'm not a good writer, so I can not give much advice. However, I heard that a good writer usually tries to expand their experience by experiencing something that they don't yet. Try to starve to know how it feels of being starved. Travel into another side of the world, and see different cultures, i.e, actually socializing. It is probably something that I wouldn't do, but you can probably do.
 
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As a woman I can safely say it’s hard writing a female character. It’s hard writing any character.

So I would say just write them as a character. The problem is I think is that there are so many games, movies and books that have characters a certain way and people fall into the trap of writing characters like them.

I always suggest watching firefly, the tv show. All the characters written there are very well written, women and men. So I’d say watch it and take notes!
 

EthanFox

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I always suggest watching firefly, the tv show. All the characters written there are very well written, women and men. So I’d say watch it and take notes!
Great example. I'd add to this; people have differing opinions about Joss Whedon personally, but the guy was, for a long time, an expert on having a balanced roster of rich characters. The Avengers is a great example of how it went well when it could've gone very, very badly.
 

gstv87

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1. What do you think makes a good female character?
first and foremost, she's gotta look good.
and by good I mean coherent, she can still look good by looking awfully terrible, like Osha in GOT, she's a Wildling, she's at the edge of what people would consider "human", she's always filthy, when you look at her you know "that woman has gone through hell".
but when you look past it, then comes the real character: motivation, opinions, points of view, experiences, etc.
I remember one instance when Osha has a split second to think her way out of a dodgy situation, she's not *those noblemen who talk their way out of situations with eloquent speech*, she's not *a warrior who fights her way out with fancy moves*, she's *that third class citizen nobody cares about*, so she uses THAT: she goes to the soldier that's stopping her and says "my lord sent me here, for you", that throws the soldier off balance for a moment, and she goes and knocks him out.
she uses that coin of "nobody would expect ill from me", and cashes it right out.
wit, knowledge, guile, guts, swag, cockyness, those are not necessarily inherent to men, you can use them on females to great effect.
In contrast, take Cruella DeVil for instance: flattest evil mistress ever. Granted, she looks great, you look at her and you see "what a mess of a woman", but why is she obsessed with those crazy designs? why is she this over-the-top ambitious designer? what got her there? there's no backstory, there's just "I want those puppies!"


2. Who are some of your favorite female characters and why? (Could be games, books, or films)
I always suggest watching firefly, the tv show
strongly seconded.
Inara is probably my favorite female.... one, because she hawt AF, and two, because she's the closest thing the show can have to a witch, without powers.
she's a master manipulator, and (like Osha) she knows men only see her looks, so she uses that as a tool.
Kaylee, is a close second... she works perfectly as this kind of wonder child mechanic, eager to go out there into space, but not being able to handle the immensity of it. That, helped by the fact that Jewel Staite is so unbelievable lovely, in and out of character. She's the perfect 'kid' for the show, even tho Wash and Mel are often the kids.

Starbuck, from BSG 2003. Flat out badass. She's not afraid to speak her mind, even if that gets her in trouble. She's used to getting her way, and she gets angry when that's denied to her. She fought her way up the ranks in a world of male majority, and she knows that every other man knows it.
Racetrack, can't quite get at the same level.... she tries, but she's not Starbuck.
Kat, same thing, talented like Starbuck, but without the emotional stability.

I mean..... not to brag about it, but you can kind of see where I got my inspiration from:


Arya and Sansa, from Game Of Thrones. They learn the way of the kingdom the hard way, especially Sansa. I love their interaction during Littlefinger's trial. They perfectly get each other, no words needed.

Kira, from DS9. Same as Sansa and Starbuck, she got to where she is the hard way. She's this tough cookie on the outside, but we get to see her laugh, cry and fall in love with a literal pint of goo, no less. She's not afraid to put Sisko in his place when needed, but she also has his back even when he's going nuts and she knows he's going nuts, and doesn't say anything to stop him, because he's *the captain* and it's his call.

Rukia, Yoruichi and Soi Fong, from Bleach. Rukia starts as "the power girl" for the story, but when Ichigo comes up she's genuinely impressed by him, like "this guy is leagues more powerful than I am, and he only had one hour of training!". And, she goes all kinds of places during the story, she's the damsel in distress, then she's the plot device, then she's the ultimate badass, AND, the comic relief at times.
Yoruichi and Soi Fong's story, is probably the closest thing you'll have to a love-hate story mixed with genuine admiration. Yoruichi is *THE* most badass assassin the 13 have ever seen, she's come back twice when Soi Fong is going, and Soi Fong wishes she could be as good as Yoruichi, and hates her (and, herself) for it: Yoruichi doesn't care about all the serious training Soi Fong is taking, Yoruichi is a natural, like Ichigo, and Soi Fong can't wrap her head around that.
if you push me a little, I'd say that's the perfect way to covertly sell a lesbian love story, without mentioning it. Soi Fong is probably in love with Yoruichi, but that's buried under layers of character development.
(Doubly well written, because Byakuya also hates Yoruichi for being a natural, excessively cocky, and utterly disrespectful to his upbringing. Yoruichi just doesn't care, at all, about anything)

Tasha and Patterson from Blindspot. One, another tough cookie you see developing a soft interior, and the other, a soft gummy bear you see developing a hard shell.
AND, one's a brunette, and the other's a blonde. Perfect counterpoint.
 
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Zreine

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Well Twilight is not popular because of it's characters, it's popular because of the story. Like fairy tales, the love story in Twilight represent the fantasies of a lot of young adult females. People who don't like Twilight just don't have the same fantasies when it comes to love stories. It's why fan fictions are so popular despite being (most of the time) badly written.

As for how to write a good character, I think the other members sums it up pretty well. Just keep in mind that if you want to make a strong female character, making her just physically strong is not what will make her a good strong character. Just look at Captain Marvel (The movie), she is super OP yet, in my opinion, she is not a strong female character, in a way her powers make her weak. For comparaison my favorite female character (which answer your second question) is Ripley from the Alien franchise. She have no super powers, she don't go around punching Aliens, she is terrified of the Xenomorph....BUT she face her fears, she don't give up and even save the cat. She does what needs to be done, even if it's difficult and scary. I always saw that character as a good role model and a true strong character. It kind of ironic, Captain Marvel was suppose to be the ultimate "feminist empowering women role model", but an horror/sci-fi movie that came out 40 years ago did a better job at it.

As about how a woman would respond to certain situation or dialogue I'd recommend looking at different psychology studies that gender their studies. Sometimes you'll realize that in situation X both men and women react the same, while in situation Y there is a difference. Just keep in mind that there is always exceptions, but this may help you when it comes to creating specific characters. Also you can base yourself on people you know, ask women you know what they would say or what they would do in certain situations, this will help you a lot.
 

gstv87

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Captain Marvel was suppose to be the ultimate "feminist empowering women role model", but an horror/sci-fi movie that came out 40 years ago did a better job at it.
Batwoman: "I have a bike."
Sarah Connor: "Aw, how cute."
Ellen Ripley: "Pff.... these gals, am I rite?"
 

watermark

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...I wasn't telling a story about racism or anything, but I wanted to see if there were any pitfalls to avoid; it was a really useful exercise (https://writingwithcolor.tumblr.com/)
Thank you for that link! it' really useful! This is a little off topic, but writing about people of races and cultures other than your own is very challenging business. On the one hand you run the risk of being called racist if you get something wrong. On the other if you don't incorporate any of the culture details you may end up creating an inauthentic character of that culture. I think a fun example is this skit done by SNL parodying Norwegians pretending to be Americans:


I mean if you just look at the script it seems "American." but coupled with the way the lines are delivered, the results are alien. How to be authentic without being racist or culturally insensitive takes hard work.
 

EthanFox

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Thank you for that link! it' really useful! This is a little off topic, but writing about people of races and cultures other than your own is very challenging business. On the one hand you run the risk of being called racist if you get something wrong. On the other if you don't incorporate any of the culture details you may end up creating an inauthentic character of that culture.
...
How to be authentic without being racist or culturally insensitive takes hard work.
I mean, it should be hard work. You're portraying someone's culture at the end of the day.

This is a bit like how animators spend so much time animating walk cycles; not everyone knows what a good walk cycle looks like, but everyone can spot a bad one, because we all know how to walk and it's very much core to our shared experience. Cultural identity is similar; I at times spot "British" characters written by Americans because of the things they say/do that I doubt an American viewer would notice. The movie Snatch has stuff like this; like there's a moment where Statham's character mentions a "Social Security Number", which totally hits my ear wrong in his accent (in the UK we would call that a "National Insurance Number"; no native British person would make this mistake).

I would encourage authors not to be nervous to have characters who are female, or of color, in their work. Being worried about this is actually a cause of the opposite problem; if you're super worried about it, you might subconsciously (or consciously) avoid it, to the point where you end up with the classic example - the sitcom Friends - which features few black actors despite being set in New York, where nearly a quarter of all real New Yorkers are black.

There's really nothing to worry about if you're not going near issues that skirt this. That's kinda what I meant in my previous post. If you don't have racism as a story theme, there's no reason to worry about reaction to a black character, as long as they're well-written and not a stereotype, and that doesn't take a lot of research to avoid.

The two problems you should be aware of are (1) as said above, boiling down a character to a stereotype and (2) telling a story about a theme or issue you don't fully understand.

Point (2) above; if I'm to give a concrete example, think of it this way - in the UK, we have issues with racism, just like any country in the world. However, they're not the same issues that are faced in the US. We didn't have slavery here, and we have the legacy of the empire, so racial tensions in the UK are nuanced. Now, racism's a terrible, awful thing no matter how or where it's expressed, it's just different to in the US. As a result, if an American author was to write a story of a person coping with racism in the UK, but they were to write it through the lens of an American, using American cultural values, I think a lot of people in the UK would find that ridiculous at best, insulting at worst. Alternatively, said American author may have a degree in British Cultural Studies and might nail it.

Even as a UK person myself, I'm not black, and therefore I would think long and hard before I include those themes in my work, partially out of a sense of self-awareness ("I know enough to know that I don't know enough") but also there's a motivational thing; I'd have to sit and work out whether or not that's my story to tell; like do I actually have anything to offer that discussion?*

*in my case, probably - but that's because I lived in a country in the far-east for a number of years and experienced racial discrimination during that time, so I probably do have insights... But that's not the point.

Lastly though, I'll share a pragmatic bit of advice - having more PoC and female characters actually makes this process easier. Say you're writing an RPG which only has 5 characters, and one of them is the villain, and you want to make the villain black, or female, for some reason which, in context, might be justifiable. As a writer, some would worry that people might say your work is suggesting that all black people or all women are inherently villanious; whereas this is not what you were trying to say. Simply having PoC and female side characters, background characters and ancillary characters makes it less likely that readers would think this. This isn't some kind of "magic wand" to fix those issues; it's just a useful thing to know.
 

Faherya

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1. What do you think makes a good female character?

It needs to work, that's all. Different people will criticize a character for different reasons. Mostly lack of identification, which is not exactly a problem. It is impossible for 100% of individuals in a given audience to be able to identify with a character / story simply because they are different people.

2. Who are some of your favorite female characters and why? (Could be games, books, or films)

Cayce Pollard (Pattern Recognition, William Gibson). Not because of her personality or the like, but because in her storyline, she's in an environment we know: internet forums. That is, I identify with the situations she goes through. I also really like Violet Baudelaire (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket), here for the character's personality, attitudes and the like.

3. What's your advice on writing someone who you are not? This is quite broad. It could be writing someone from another culture, another religion, or another age group that you've not personally experienced before.

You are nothing but yourself. So know as much as you can about what you want to write when it's needed. See, if you're going to create a scene that takes place in a real city, with believable characters that must fit into this same universe with consistency, research. Better, visit the places you'll write about, or at least visit through Google Maps. If you're going to write about people - and want to portray them with likelihood - leave home and talk to them. However, if you are going to create something fictitious, don't get caught up. You are not required to make sense.

4. A possibly offensive opinion from someone who has been writing screenplays for a while now.
Just stop worrying about how offensive your screenplay and characters can be. Just write and ignore the rest. People will be offended all their lives, offenses exist and they need to be able to deal with them. It doesn't matter if it is a minor detail spoiling the identification with the plot or if it is a direct personal offense.

Your job as a storyteller is to portray your story as it is. If you are worrying about the world out here it is because you are not immersed in your own plot yet. I've seen people create fantastic villains and spoil them "because they offended a lot of people." Now that's what villains do. They offend, kill, discriminate, segregate among other types of harm. That is why they are villains. If people start creating "politically correct" villains, what is our reference to what a villain is? The same applies to the story as a whole.

Now, if writing about women really baffles you, you have three options. 1) Write anyway and learn during the process. This is the option I recommend. 2) Talk to women you know and ask for opinions. 3) Do not write. With absolute certainty they will say that you are machist so simply ignore it. I do not write about airplanes. I don't understand them, I don't know what they go through, their most common problems. The fact that I don't write about them doesn't mean they don't exist, they are still there, nor do they make me an airplane discriminator. Fortunately, they don't care, they just look for stories that they think are better than mine. Very lucid, these airplanes.
 

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I just turn my female characters into lesbians. That way I don't have to worry about them being feminine. Or likable. But all kidding aside. I think you should find a woman you respect and admire and see if she is willing to help you out. By working as a cowriter.
 

rue669

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1. What do you think makes a good female character?

I don’t know if there’s necessarily a difference between writing a female good character and writing a good character. Good characters have a want and a need or a lesson to learn. As well as strengths and weaknesses and fears in their personalities.

There are things to avoid. Some are obvious like not making female characters only for sexual appeal (bikini armour). I guess if you’re making an adult game that’s fine but it’s not character development that is key in those games and stories.

There are other subtler ways that women are portrayed poorly in games books and movies. Romance fiction does this a lot (and it’s largely written by women for women), but the critique is that the female characters in romance books only ever talk to each other about men and guys—like don’t they have other stuff going on in their lives? Of course they do and a good romance book would showthat.

2. Who are some of your favorite female characters and why? (Could be games, books, or films)

Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn. Because she’s a real hero—she has a want, she has a need, she learns a lesson in the end, and she expresses a range of emotions. Emotions are key, because we all have them regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, religion etc. and so it’s not so much “write what you know” but “write what you know emotionally”

3. What's your advice on writing someone who you are not? This is quite broad. It could be writing someone from another culture, another religion, or another age group that you've not personally experienced before.

I stick to writing what I know emotionally. And also tons of research especially if it’s religion, age, sex, that is different from my own. And, say I’m writing a character who is Buddhist, maybe asking someone who is Buddhist to read the script (granted this may be harder to achieve).
 

Tanarex

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I think you are overlooking important parts of Aloy. She is a rebel. She does what she wants and doesn't let anything get in her way. She is smart, cunning and resourceful. She isn't afraid to speak her mind. She is curious and wants to know about the past and the possible future. She has a lot of heart and sympathy. She does walk around with a big chip on her shoulder (Which is understandable) and is completely clueless when guys are hitting on her.
 

Quill-Hawthorne

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1. What do you think makes a good female character?
A good female character is one whose personality doesn't overly focus on gender stereotypes. If anything, the biggest thing is to make sure that they're a solid personality on their own first. Considering your reviewers don't seem to have a problem with your characters, it seems like you're overthinking it.

But if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of it, you might focus on female psychology and examine patterns in how women act. This is a generalization because every woman is different, but as a group, women are more emotion-based. If they have a problem, they're going to talk about it because they're frustrated and want to feel understood.

A lot of high school movies that revolve around girls usually has a popular mean girl. While that trope is incredibly overused, think about why is that character an antagonist. The popular cheerleader is a threat because she's popular and therefore, good with people. Because she's good with people, she must be attractive or very charismatic.

Those are traits that society want out of women and therefore, a woman could be insecure about her ability to attract people. Because apparently, that's the most important trait a woman can have.

This is what your woman faces. You're probably not writing a story that deals with gender or sexism, so this will never appear in it. Your character will have this in the back of her mind and it might affect the way she views the world. Does she go along with gender roles, or does she not? Or is she impassive to it?

You can create a heavily nuanced character with thinking about how their environment affects them.

2. Who are some of your favorite female characters and why? (Could be games, books, or films)

Well, one of my favorite characters is Hope Van Dyne from Ant-Man and the Wasp because of her strong personality. She's intelligent and capable, but she's also capable of compassion and has a sense of humor. She's balanced with those traits you commonly see in those "strong females" with an emotional side. It's not about her skills--it's about making a character feel human with complexities.

3. What's your advice on writing someone who you are not? This is quite broad. It could be writing someone from another culture, another religion, or another age group that you've not personally experienced before.

Research. There's no way other way of writing something you're unfamiliar with by making yourself familiar with it.

 

Lornsteyn

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I dont see the problem.
Just write a character as best as you can and how you want them to be, there will be people who like them.
Unless you plan to make a game where you have to drive deep into the psyche of a woman, there is not much you can do wrong.
Everyone has their own views what a good character is.
Even if the characters are badly written there are people who like them, proofed by recent movies.
 

Ailius

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You know what, nevermind.
 

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Hmm It's hard for me to answer. Even though I'm a girl, I'm not sure I can write good female characters (or even good characters in general... I sorta s*ck at writing) Female characters vary a lot depending on personalities...
To me, a good female (or anyone) character would be someone who doesn't wait for change... she's always trying to overcome her problems and always fighting. She doesn't have to be particularly strong but she has to have willpower. She may be warm or cold or aloof but she should have a good heart. She doesn't have to be the disturbing goody goody girl who's dragging people down. That's very annoying. She must not induce rage like "wtf is this girl doing!" Her actions may not always be the best things to do but at least she's trying and thinking logically...

This however, largely depends on the type of character you're going for... I really liked Elizabeth in Pride and prejudice. She was a strong female character and she didn't care what others thought about her. I also like Jane in Jane Eyre. She was the shy, weak female lead who was always being looked down upon. Yet I liked her. I don't know why. She had a different charm to her. Then we have Mary Lenox from the secret garde. She was a spoilt brat as a kid and I was very very annoyed at her at first. But soon I learnt to like her for ber drastic change in personality. She grew from a spoilt annoying brat to a respectable, polite young girl.

When I have to write a character I have no idea about, I generally read a book about that sort of person. Or try to picture one of friends or people from my surroundings. Then I'd try to talk to them and see how they respond to certain things.

You can talk to the females in your life like your mom, sister, cousin, girlfriend, wife etc. If you find yourself thinking "what would a girl do in this situation? (I doubt we'd do something very different since we're basically the same as men)" Or read some "good" novels (there's plenty bad ones out there) targetted towards girls (yeah it will be hard but it'll help)

And yeah, I hated twilight because of Bella... and Edward... and every character there.
 
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(Which actually begs another question: why is a terrible character popular?)
Um...because there is literally absolutely no correlation between quality and success/profitability. Had you really not noticed that? I know that I'm seething with rage whenever I enter a book store or game store whose shelves are absolutely stuffed with crap that is strictly inferior to my own lesser-known less conspicuously published work.

Bejeweled has made more money than every RPG on this website combined.

This is really more a question for the ladies here.

Given that I am a man, I feel less secure writing female characters. First I can't use "Now what would I say in this situation" because in my experience girls usually don't say the same things or act the same way as guys. Second we probably can't just go by best seller lists. For example, by sales Twilight was way up there, but Bella has been heavily criticized as a terrible character by some. (Which actually begs another question: why is a terrible character popular?)

Yet for good games it's necessary to have great female characters. Sometimes I love the idea of having a female protagonist in my game. In fact, I've written one (Brooke in Einherjar, with help from co-writer Nick). I personally think she can be better, but some reviewers think she's okay. Anyway, I want to discuss how to write better ones.

So here are my questions:

1. What do you think makes a good female character?

2. Who are some of your favorite female characters and why? (Could be games, books, or films)

3. What's your advice on writing someone who you are not? This is quite broad. It could be writing someone from another culture, another religion, or another age group that you've not personally experienced before.
I'm just gonna throw this one out there...women are like, people? We're not like a different species. I mean, I find it easier to write men than women most of the time. Is that because I'm gay? Who can say.

Yet for good games it's necessary to have great female characters.
lol I'm not sure what games industry you've been observing your entire life but *ticks off every mainstream triple-A action game and shooter ever*

I don't doubt I can name a dozen games I adored that did not have any women in them PERIOD.

I mean, even the phrase "for good games it's necessary to have great characters" is debatable but least it's not arbitrary. Tell your story and use your characters and if those characters are female, great, if they're male, great, if they're NB, great. Whatever.

I mean...generally speaking we're operating within a genre where we're writing immortal elves and dragons and vampires and demons in the fantasy genre or killer robots, mutants, and rogue AI over in science fiction: I find it a lot harder to write incomprehensible/terrifying monsters than to write pretty much any human being, including, yes, men.

tl;dr I think your heart's in the right place but you need to double check your head, OP. writing female characters is not holistically different from writing male characters, because they are both just people, and there is certainly no "one big key difference" in mens' and womens' personalities, and the idea that there is makes the very silly presumption that both groups are homogeneous, which they aren't.
 
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