I guess for this post to really make sense I have to start it off with a confession. Okay, here it goes. Deep breath.
I’m a male writer. And I like women in stories.
I feel like I have to stop short of saying I like writing women characters. That isn’t because I don’t like writing women, I do. But it seems like a far too simplistic thing to state. I like writing characters. Men, women, or any combination thereof.
But there is a challenge to me in writing women. That challenge is fear. My own.
When I write a male character, I don’t even think about it. I just write what I feel is appropriate for the character. And this is what I start out trying to do with the female ones as well. I just want to write and stay true to who I think character is.
I’ll admit that sometimes when I write a female question doubt comes to mind. Sometimes it is the doubt of am I effectively managing something I have never experienced. But I mostly wrote fantasy. My novel featured a gladiator in trainings, being held prisoner by a witch, and sneaking around a slumbering dragon. I have experienced none of those things.
I hope this doesn’t sound sexist, but I do think it is easier to imagine myself as a woman with thoughts and desires and write from there than it is to envision my soul being literally corrupted by dark magics. I mean, I know women and except for some biology they don’t strike me as being completely alien from myself, a man.
My doubts about writing a woman come more to play in how will it be received. I feel very aware of the reader. I feel I can write a man, or several men, making them diverse with some good and some evil and I can even do horrible things to those characters without feeling I am putting myself at risk. But when I write women I do feel more of a weight of responsibility.
I feel that people will look at how I wrote women, at what I do to the women in my stories and use that to deduce what I as a person believe. And that is pretty scary. In Deadly Troubadours I wrote a few scenes that I felt are very powerful and very difficult that I am still expecting some backlash for. (I guess that is one positive of being mostly unknown.)
But I want to write characters. I want them to be round and have faults and weaknesses. I want them to excel and be interesting while having their own doubts and fears. And that is where I want to start from. I want to write characters who are also women.
As I write the Sequel I am continuing to try and write character first and worry about biological sex latter.
It’s a tricky issue and I feel I could write ten times as much about it. I guess I could sum up just by saying that as I write when come about the handing of a female character I just remind myself that women are people and ask what would that person (the character) do. That tends to lead to a good answer.