We’ve just released the Fantasy Heroine Character Pack, giving you 8 new cool designs for you to use in your game, and it really got me onto a subject that I think is incredibly, incredibly important.
How to write women characters.
Okay, first of all. I’m going to introduce, Rule 0 of Writing Women in games.
It is an important rule. And one that everyone should take to heart. And if all else fails, you should fall back on this rule. In fact, you should be referencing this rule long before anything fails. Here is the rule:
RULE 0: WOMEN ARE PEOPLE!
Now, I know this is obvious! I’m not trying to lecture here, but sometimes I think writers forget that. Not just with women, but with writing any character, especially one that is not like themselves.
This isn’t to say that there is nothing else to consider. Yes, you can write a woman exactly like a man, but there is a lot that can affect how a person acts. First, to write women in your setting you need to know three things:
1. How does their culture treat women?
All people products of their environment. And, as we have previously established, WOMEN ARE PEOPLE.
So, it is important to look at how their environment would treat them. Now, let’s ignore the real world for a moment, because that is a whole can of worms we don’t want to get into, but think about your world, or at the least the specific region you are in: How does that society treat women?
Does it put women on a pedestal, protecting them from everything?
Does it treat men and women no differently?
Is it a society of women warriors, who consider women heroes?
All of these will produce different PEOPLE. Because each will affect the way the character was raised. And then the second part:
2. How does this woman react to that?
Just because society expects them to act a certain way, doesn’t mean they will. The next thing to look at is how do they react to the way their culture expects them to act.
Do they rebel against it?
Do they buy into the cultural expectations?
Do they ignore sit completely, because they don’t care?
A mix of the above?
All of these are valid responses, but all people respond to the way society treats us, even if it is to ignore it. And since WOMEN ARE PEOPLE, they do too.
And then, we can look at the third part:
3. What else is going on with them?
And honestly, for most characters, this is still going to be the most important part. Unless their story arc is specifically ABOUT overcoming societal expectations (or maybe even, someone from a woman warrior society learning that men can also be awesome warriors, and losing some of her superiority complex), their interaction with how society treats their subgroup is probably going to be a minor (but important) detail to the way you write them.
If they are trying to avenge their murdered parents, that is more important than the way society treats them as women.
If they are trying to overcome the loss of the love of their life, that is more important than the way society treats them as women.
People are more than their gender. And again, WOMEN ARE PEOPLE.
So hopefully, this helps you with writing women. But I’ll tell you a little secret: This trick works for all kinds of characters. Ask yourself 3 things: How does society treat the group(s) they are part of? How do they react to that? What else is going on with them? You do this well, and you can write a pretty good character.