One of my biggest struggles as an author is writing female characters with authenticity.
There. I said it.
I think if I could write stories about guys blowing things up and having knock down drag out fights, I’d be a happy camper. But since Ronie Kendig’s got that market cornered, I’m sticking with contemporary romance. Yet every time I begin a new story, it’s like pulling teeth for me to get a good handle on who my female character is. Being a SOTP (seat-of-the-pants) writer and not a plotter, this can be a problem. I can often get a few chapters into a book and realize I don’t like this girl at all. She’s wimpy. Or spoiled. Or just not likable. And then I have to start all over and try to figure out why. Even Kristin in Yesterday’s Tomorrow gave me a fit or two until I knew her inside out and backwards, liked who she was, where she’d been and where she was going.
I have to wonder if those first few attempts at my female characters are somehow a reflection on who I think I am. Now I know that’s deep. And probably a little weird. But I’ve been thinking about it. And it kind of makes sense. I grew up with boys. I dressed like a boy except on Sundays when my mother went to town and somehow managed to find the most atrocious dresses hidden away in some secret part of my closet. That’s probably where my loathing of going to church manifested. Once I hit school, I went to an all-girls school until I was fifteen. Despite being a tom-boy, I was always painfully shy and hated to be the center of attention in anything. My school years were pretty much a nightmare.
I know girls. I know how they think. I know how they talk. And whisper. And snicker. And, to be perfectly honest, I just don’t like them very much. Not saying I’m not proud of being a woman, because I am. And I love the great romance stories just as much as anyone. But I need to somehow find a way to get over the scars of my past that have somehow cast this dark shadow on any female character I create. It’s getting annoying.
I have some wonderful real-life girlfriends. I love hanging out with them, talking or not talking at all. True friends are hard to come by and I am blessed with more than a few. But put me in a room full of women I don’t know from Adam and I want to run for the door. Chances are I probably will.
What do you think?
Am I just nuts or is any of this resonating with you? Am I the only writer in the world who has trouble in this area? How do I get past this block that seems to land in the road whenever I sit down to create a new character of the fairer sex? Is there hope for me or should I just give up and start writing war stories for good?