Writing Female Characters (As A Male)
My latest release, Dying Days 2, is the third book I’ve had the pleasure of writing about Darlene Bobich. She’s witty, has a great sense of humor, is far from superhuman… she cries, she has panic attacks, she gets depressed and hides under the covers for three days. Yet, when her life is on the line she can put a bullet between your eyes without flinching. In short, she’s pretty normal.
I’ve written many flash fiction pieces, short stories, novellas and novels over the twenty-plus years, and looking back, I see that (especially in the first eighteen or so) 99% of my main characters have been male.
Only in the last two or three years have I focused on mixing it up, with female characters taking charge in some stories. I’m not sure why. I’d like to think I’ve become a better writer, more comfortable giving life to any person regardless of gender, race, age, weakness or strength.
But I think there’s a simpler answer: I became Darlene Bobich when I started typing, and fell into the mindset of a character I have absolutely nothing in common with in real life.
Sure, I see her as pretty, feisty, someone intelligent and disarming. She covers all facets of a character, good and bad. At this point she’s simply writing herself.
I’m sure you’ve heard the story by now about how Joe Konrath, trying to sell his Jacqueline (Jack) Daniels series featuring a woman detective, became JA Konrath. Why? Because the thought process is that a woman writes and understands a woman, and men write about men. He proved that theory wrong with a great series of books, but I wonder if he’s the exception to the rule?
I’ve read many, many books in my life. I can also remember books that didn’t strike a chord with me and fell flat, and (without naming names) recently read three books in a row where men wrote female protagonists that were so one-dimensional it was sad. The leads were either Lara Croft Tomb Raider kick-ass, meek damsels in distress that needed a male minor character to save her, or a one-dimensional crack-whore with a heart of gold. Bleh.
I think I’ve done something original with Darlene Bobich and the Dying Days series by offering her up as a strong character, someone you can relate to, someone you root for when the zombies are surrounding her and the bad guys are at the door. She’s the twenty-eight year old you meet at the mall trying to sell you makeup so she can make her next car payment, unlucky in love and with too much self-doubt.
In the third book (Dying Days 2… trust me, it’s the third one) I introduced a tough-as-nails redhead named Tosha. She was written with more of that one-dimension Metal babe, sexual seduction, teaser and killer with no compunction mind-set.
And she’s all that and more, keeping the males in the story on their toes. She was fun to write and offered up so much tension in the story I sometimes forgot it was about zombies. She’s a bad ass, plain and simple… or is she? You be the judge, but in the end, after reading through the first draft, I knew there was more to her.
Don’t let that tough exterior, tight jeans and wink fool you. There’s something else going on in that pretty redhead of hers.
Will I keep writing female characters? Maybe. I never really put two and two together until this blog post. It’s not a conscious decision on my part, but I hope to.
I hope to write every lead character with many facets to the puzzle, whether male or female. I also hope the reader will enjoy the story and not worry about a male author writing in a woman’s voice.
Want to know more about the “Dying Days” series? Want to win free eBooks and maybe print books of them? My contest is simple: e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with DYING DAYS in the subject line and I’ll enter you into the daily giveaway… also, post a comment here and you get another chance… follow my blog at http://armandrosamilia.com for yet another chance, and friend me on Twitter (@ArmandAuthor) and simply post DYING DAYS to me, and you’ll get another shot… nice and easy, right? If I get enough people joining in the giveaway there will be a print book given away that day!
“Dying Days” series information can be found here: http://armandrosamilia.com/dying-days-series.
Thank you Armand, great to have you back!
Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida. His latest release, the horror short story collection, Skulls, is available now as an eBook. Previous releases include many, many zombie stories… and many more to come… You can reach him at http://armandrosamilia.wordpress.com to talk about horror, zombies and the Boston Red Sox, and http://rymfirebooks.wordpress.com details all his releases.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with historical and children’s author Connie Hannah – the three hundred and twenty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. And I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org.