A post over at Inkspelled Faery got me thinking today about my female leads. Granted, I have only written two novellas so far, but over the years I have written many stories with many different leading ladies.
I do my best to fit my characters into the world they live in and develop them in a way that would suit their surroundings. In my second novella my female lead, Marie, is from a privileged family in medieval-themed times. She wanted for nothing, got everything she wanted and has never had to lift a finger in her life to do anything. So, thinking of that, I tried to make her personality reflect this: she is a little proud, knows her own mind and is not afraid of speaking it. But she is also not cruel or overly ‘feisty’ in any way. She can’t fight, she wasn’t allowed to help in politics etc, because that time period didn’t allow it.
In my stories, I do my best to make my characters feel real for the setting. High-status women in medieval times rarely disputed arranged marriages, because they were brought up knowing that was their fate. They may not have liked it, but they knew it would happen. They weren’t taught to fight like men, or act like men. So, my female lead doesn’t act that way. Yet, I hope she is a strong female for the other traits I have given her.
Now, having said all of that, my next novella’s heroine will be a woman of physical strength and skill as well as personal ones. It is going to be a historical story, based in a real setting in a real time period but the character will not be of her time. She never would have existed because women never acted the way she is going to. But it’s a story and the story focuses on having her act this way, after all, stories are for fun 😀
But still, how can I make her read like she existed in this time?
It is going to be a great and fun challenge. This story is one I have had in my head for a couple of years, and was originally going to be a comic. Now though, it is turning into a novella and I am super excited! I have never truly written a warrior-woman before, and never a truly historical story either.
I guess what I was trying to get across in this post was, I like my leading ladies to feel real. Warrior women, princesses, modern business women… no matter who they are I want them to read as though they’ve grown in the environment they’re set in, even if they don’t conform to the norm of that time.
Some women may be able to brandish a weapon better than a man, but that doesn‘t have to be the only way to show her strength or force of character. She doesn’t always have argue or get angry every time things don’t go her way to show that she is strong; adapting to circumstances we can’t control or go against what we wish is another great strength in personality.
And, yes, even the strongest of women sometimes have a damsel-in-distress moment. That doesn’t make them weak, it makes them real. Think of Elizabeth Bennett, a great female lead who is independent and strong, but who accepts the help of Darcy when she needs it without compromising any of her strength or personality!
Do you have a favourite female lead? What is your current female lead you’re writing like? I’d love to her what she’s like 🙂 (If you’re writing one).
Status of Second Manuscript: With proof-readers (1 out of 3 returned).
March E-Book Review: Choosing book.