In her blog, "Eonism" Magen Toole writes about the difficulties she's experienced writing female characters. She draws attention to the fact that because of the sometimes unfortunate sexual politics of the world we live in, there are a lot of "don't's" when it comes to creating and fleshing out a dynamic female character in fictional narratives.
Toole describes one female character, named "Mariska," whom she says that she is "still learning to write:"
"Mariska’s a bundle of contradictions, strengths and weaknesses. She’s held up by the sheer force of her will, and yet still remains too soft... I’m still learning to write her, fretting over every page, wringing my hands over the context of her words and the subtext of her intentions. Does she mean well? Does she do harm? Is she strong enough to survive [a] violent chain of events?"
There are elements of every story that present us with obstacles, and gender is often one of them. How can we be both the lion and the lamb when it comes to constructing narratives, as women writing about women? Our characters demand that we as writers endow them with humanity--with all the grit and grace that make a person "a real boy"--or in this case "girl."
Magen Toole is an honest voice when it comes to the obstacles inherent in female character development. It's this transparency that is vitally needed. Check out her blog and her writings, (You can also follow her on Twitter.)
What about you? How do you approach writing female (or male) characters as women? How do you feel your perspective influences your writing?