I like to believe, as a male writer, I write a good female protagonist. In my Investigator Lexus Toulouse sci-fi murder mysteries, Lexus is a three-dimensional character that seems to resonate with my female readers in a way that I don’t quite understand.
Actually, I take that back. Part of the reason I can write a three-dimensional female character is because I have done research pertaining to women in lawn enforcement, and I’ve met female police officers while on duty while doing this research.
Research is vital. It is not enough to look into the heart of a female character and try to bring that to the page. The setting and plot details need a basis in reality. Lee Lofland writes to this in his latest, “Female Police Officers: Are They Really Wimpy, Or Do You Just Write Them That Way?” This article really resonates with me, because Lee often gives great tips around certain themes, themes that appear in his blog over and over again. Essentially, what he tells his blogs readers is to write life as it is, rather than life as you think it is.
Sound familiar? It should. Rachelle said the same thing:
“I get the feeling many people are so saturated with media (books, TV, movies) that they are writing not from life but from their perception of life as shown in media. They’re writing stories I’ve seen and heard a hundred times before.”
Back to Lexus (because, this post is all about me, me, me, me), Lexus is a flawed individual. You can make a compelling argument that she is mired in psychosis. She certainly suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. She has an addiction-prone personality.
These are flaws.
Lexus is also an emotional creature. She has a deep sympathy for people with problems and a strong intolerance for injustice. She takes injustice personally. She approaches problems with logic, but does not have tight reigns on her empathy. She feels. She feels a lot. As a woman, she has feminine emotions.
This is not a flaw. That is part of her strength. Too often, I read characters where the author went out of her way to make sure I, as a reader, understood the character was not flawed because she had boobs and lacked a penis. Yet the character is still a cliché; essentially she is an immature girl compensating for being female.
There is strength in femininity, just as there is strength in masculinity. I can write the strong female main character because I play on my strengths: observation and research. Sometimes I write the obvious in a way that is appealing to women simply because I’m an outsider and am providing a fresh, outsider voice.
Or something like that. I don’t fully understand it. I’m certainly not blazing new territory. My running theory: women are powerful creatures. As technology progresses and makes physical strength not even worthy of a secondary characteristic, the era of the woman may be upon us.