A couple of weeks ago I knocked 80,000 words (yes, eighty thousand) out of my manuscript. Now, at 174,000 words the tome was very, very heavy so it could certainly bear this loss. What I cut, however, was my female lead, Agnes.
I didn’t cut Agnes out because she was a weak character, or because she was female I cut her out because her journey was essentially running in parallel with the main storyline. I was bringing her through childhood to a point where, at the end, she’d be primed for action in book two. I love her and certainly want to revisit her, but when I took a step back I saw there was just no need for her. I felt upset to have lost Agnes, but pleased with myself for having been so brutal.
Now I have a book full of men. I like men. I especially like the men I have created, but I can’t bear to carry on with a book with so skewed a bias. I do have three female characters, one of whom was crying out to be developed, but I want to be careful as to how I do develop them.
Often you find that in films and some books strong female character = ‘bitch’ or ‘plucky but ultimately ineffective’. (I mean Keira Knightly in Pirates of the Caribbean, did anyone even notice she wasn’t in the last one? Sorry, I’m not keen on Ms Knightly)
I’m not a feminist, or at least I don’t think I am. Come to think of it I’m not sure what one is anymore, so perhaps I am, but I do think it’s important to consider what stereotypes you reinforce or reflect when you write.
Any recommendations for fantasy books (or any genre) with good female characters who aren’t bitches, overly masculine, or just a tragic love interest would be greatly welcomed – I know there are many out there.