We see a lot of such opinionating and advice on social media…
…and that is no shocker because there are always those with suggestions as to what they think there should be more or less of…
That is not to say readers are not entitled to have opinions. Of course they are. However, one of the fundamental problems with any exercise like this is I suspect it does not really account for how writers actually write characters.
Here is an explanation from this author and (I presume) “non-woman.” How do I write a woman? Well, for starters I don’t sit there and say to myself: “Okay, I will write an ‘appropriate’ woman character.”
I don’t write a woman any differently, really, than I do a man. I write women characters based on my own relationships, conversations, and related life observations and experiences (and also where necessary supplemented with historical research – since, for instance, I did not live in “1790” so obviously I did not know any “1790” women personally). I pull nothing out of “thin air.”
With that in mind, think about every novel you have ever read. Each is more or less merely a “snapshot” encompassing a group of people in a particular situation over some period of time. You the reader are dropped essentially into witnessing it and from there are carried along by what is happening… until you are abruptly pulled away from it all (at the end).
Now, think about every woman in every novel you have ever read. None of them is “every woman.” They are all individuals of varying traits who are part of the tale you are “witnessing.”
As we see above, it is possible to create a “wish list” for traits some want to see in literary women. Undoubtedly I have not always produced what someone might wish to see. However, naturally I cannot write “everything,” and as a writer I will not drift or be drawn into writing what I feel I do NOT know enough about; I put my effort into writing what I feel I do know about… and those I feel I know about…
When all is said and done, women in my books – in the case above, samples of those from my first three novels – are what they are because I know them.
Have a good reading – and writing, if you do so – day, wherever you are… woman or man. 🙂