Blundering my way through The Copper Promise Part 2 for Nanowrimo (tentatively titled “Wydrin and the Bloody Helm”) – quite good fun so far, slightly behind, not consuming enough caffeine.
One of the characters in particular, the eponymous Wydrin, is a complete lark to write. She’s a mercenary, selling her sword for fortune and glory, and she is, I’m finding, great fun; brave, rude, tactless, irresponsible. In short she’s exactly the sort of female character I like to see, and last night I got to thinking about what it is I like in a strong female character.
(Marty likes to tease me by saying that I like no lady characters at all. That I prefer, in fact, a complete sausagefest, and that may be true to an extent, but this is mainly because so many female characters drive me barmy).
Here are 3 things that I require in a decent female character:
1) She has a purpose outside of being a love interest for the main, male character.
2) If she is the main character, then she must have a purpose besides trying to get off with someone.
3) She is more than simply a man with boobs and conditioned hair.
Take, for example, Being Human, the excellent supernatural drama series from the BBC. I adore Being Human, let me say that from the outset, but I felt that towards the end they managed to ruin Annie’s character by sending her off to the Love Interest stable in the last series. To begin with, Annie had one of the best storylines in the show – the mystery over who killed her in the first place swiftly became a tragedy, followed by a rousing conclusion where she stood up for herself and generally kicked arse. Brilliant stuff. In the last series, following a couple of years of slightly flirty looks being exchanged, she fell suddenly and obsessively in love with Mitchell (he is very pretty indeed, but really, bad choice). Her character became rather whingey and annoying, her main goal in “life” was to save Mitchell, and I found that I really didn’t care any more. Very sad.
In comparison, I always hold up Farscape as a fine example of How to Do Female Characters Well. It’s chock full of them, for a start, and they’re all wildly different. Zhaan and Chiana are vibrant, and weird, and they can kick your arse all over the shop. They also do not need men to drive their storylines. You might argue that Aeryn Sun comes close to being a Man with Boobs, but I would say that her peacekeeper background actually does a good job of making that an explainable, vital part of her character. AND the ship is a girl. Come on. More Farscapes please.
Perhaps I am terribly fussy. Perhaps a lot of female characters simply aren’t aimed at me (I don’t read romantic fiction and I don’t watch rom-coms) but I don’t think I’m asking for too much; give me ladies who have fully fledged personalities, and something to do other than writing their beau’s name on the back of their exercise book.