I often get this nagging feeling that because I am talking about women and female characters and female creators so much, people might think I automatically have something against male creators.
I don’t. Every new writer is a blank slate to me, everyone gets a fair shot. Everyone is capable of doing good work until they show otherwise.
The gender someone calls themselves doesn’t bestow any magic powers or insight or ability. Some of the best writers of female characters identify as male and some of the worst do not. I would rather read a Greg Rucka female than a female by a merely average female author.
The fact that this is a concern to you is a good sign. Hopefully, it’s not JUST women characters that you want to represent well, because there are lots of other groups that have historically been marginalized and stereotyped as well.
It’s just that historically, a lot of the tropes of female characters have been repeated so endlessly that it is painful to the female reader.
Some things I hope people watch out for…
1) The Perfect Everything. Often, we see guys write female characters as without flaws. This isn’t really what we want…look at the books that have huge female audiences. We do not tend to embrace the perfect woman who never makes a mistake. You can make your females have flaws, just be honest about it and avoid making them similar to stereotypes of the past.
2) The Character With No Steering Wheel. Even more often, we see women who have no agency and no direction or motive of their own. These characters are solely dependent on following a man. I am not saying never write this person, but keep in mind if that is a character YOU would enjoy reading about.
3) The Mystery Of Woman is Bullshit. I hate this trope, the woman who is supposed to represent what mysterious, sexy, tantalizing but unknowable creatures women are. It’s a staple of noir fiction, and it always sucks. Women aren’t treasure maps.
There’s a lot more but that may help a bit. Good luck!