How do you write a believable female character in a story

How do you write a believable female character in a story?

CHARACTER
It is very important that the reader falls in love with your hero/heroine.
A reader must worry and care what happens to them.
Without that, your story will be flat.
All good books are character driven.
You can have the best, most wonderful story in the world, but if the reader doesn't care if your hero dies or not, they won't read the book.
The hero drives the story.
(And I use the word hero, but it could be a man or a woman.
) He has to have a visible goal, which is his outer motivation for what he does, and an inner goal, which is something in his past that is holding him back.
The inner turmoil could be a longing or need, a deeply held desire that he is afraid to go after; or an old wound from the past that your hero suppressed but is still affecting his life; or a strong belief such as ‘if I love I will be hurt’; or a fear of experiencing the pain he has felt before.
You must have him conquer this inner torment by the end.
The hero has to grow in order for you to reach a satisfying ending to your outer story.

 
 Let's say our hero was hired to blow up a building.
In this version we don't know anything about him, his background, why he even took this type of job.
We don't like him very much.
If he sets the bomb and completes the job, that's not a very interesting read.
But what if he falls in love with the lady who works in the coffee shop on the first floor, and finds out there's a day care center on the 10th floor with 42 little kids in it? Now, he's conflicted.
He saw kids being hurt in the war and he wants no part of this.
He tries to back out, but the bad guys are pushing him to complete the job or else they're going to hurt his own daughter.
Now we have a good story going — and the reader's attention.

 
 There are five ways to initially draw your reader to the hero.
Chose two to work with and be sure to include them in the first few pages of your book.
Hook the reader right away.

 1) Create sympathy, make him the victim of something or some undeserved misfortune.
2) Put him in jeopardy, make us worry about him.
3) Make him likable or liked by others.
4) Make him funny.
5) Make him powerful in some good way.

 
 In order to create a memorable character you, as the writer, must know him inside and out.
Know what makes him tick, what makes him mad, what makes him act out.
Then you will know how he will react when you put him in danger, or threaten to ruin his business, or have his lovers leave him.
Create a background story for him.
There are lots of character check lists you can find on the Internet, but don't spend too much time on it.
His favorite color is probably not all that important to the story.
Focus on the items on the list that carved out his personality and/or made him the man he is today.

 
 Think out your characters.
Did they have a crappy childhood? Were they rich? Poor? Mom was a drunk? Dad was in jail? Did they have a privileged life? Were they in the military and saw despicable behavior? Did they take part in it? All these things will shape who they are and how they deal with the situations you're going to put them into, and how they will react to others, especially the love interest.
Make them interesting and not clichéd.
They can be tough but remember we have to like them, so don't make them too cold.
Give them a soft side.
A hero always does the right thing, even if his behavior is not always perfect.
Make sure your character cares passionately about what is happening.
Give him emotions.
If he doesn't care, why should the reader? Also give him a flaw.
Nobody is perfect and we hate reading about perfect people.
We want to relate to the character; we want to become them.
And we want him to solve his problem.

 
 Just a quick note on naming your characters.
Don't use a name so difficult the reader can’t pronounce it.
Don't have a John and a Jake and a Jerry.
Too confusing.
Use names that fit the personality and the time you are writing in.
For example very few young girls are named Gertrude today but that was a popular name in the 20s.

 
 Check out this book for more writing tips: Write Better Right Now: Creative Writing Tips "
I could write a million variations of your question, like.
.
.
— How can I write a book with a Chinese protagonist when I'm not Chinese?
— How can I write a book set in the 1930? I wasn't even born back then?
— How can I write a story from a little kid's point-of-view? I'm in my 40s!
— How can I write a story set in France? I've never been there!
etc.
Here's how: you get off your butt and research!
First of all, there's no such thing as "a woman.
" What sort of woman? Is she a midwestern high-school girl or a Wall Street executive? Knowing those sorts of details will give you a lead.
Because you can't research "what it's like to be a woman.
" But you CAN research what it's like to be a high-school girl, a woman executive at a Fortune 500 company, a female astronaut, a hooker in Detroit, etc.
There are books about all these sorts of people.
There are movies about them.
There are documentaries about them.
There are books written BY them.
If necessary, put an ad on Craislist and pay people to let you interview them.
Don't just read one book.
If I was going to write about a midwestern high-school girl (I'm a middle-aged, male, New Yorker), I would read ten books (a mixture of fiction and non-fiction), find out what TV shows and music are popular with high-school girls and study them.
And I'd see if there were any actual high-school girls I could interview.
In the end, everyone here is right: women are just people.
The main thing is that you need to know what your character wants.
The particulars of her gender, class, age, etc.
will create obstacles to her getting what she wants.
We all want the same things: security, joy, sex, love, power, etc.
Once you get to know all the intimate details about — say — waitresses in Nevada, you'll be able to think logically about what obstacles they face when they're looking for love (or whatever).
I am sorry if I mischaracterized you.
Obviously, I don't know you, so it's possible that you're not lazy at all.
By "you," I'm really referring to the many young writers I've met who think writing means sitting down in front of a computer, having done no research at all, and this churning stuff out.
And when they get stuck, they ask questions like "How do you write a sci-fi novel when you don't know anything about Science?" When someone suggests "research," they don't want to hear it.
And I understand why they don't.
Few people like to do homework.
The REAL writers are the ones who do the homework.
They keep researching and researching until they feel like experts on whatever topic they're writing about.
Until they feel confident that they KNOW the subject.
Then they can forget about all the research.
They CAN just churn it out.
Facts from the research will just start entering their brains when needed.
— UPDATE —
I highly recommend the works of Deborah Tannen, a linguist who studies men and women as if they are two different cultures (in the same way that one might study Americans and Australians).
" " Think of how each marine reacts to the same situation, with special reference to Bill Pullman's character.
That movie is like a masterclass in writing distinct characters.
)
My culture (middle class, American) throws women this curveball: "You need to look young, sexy and thin.
"
Again, it's KEY that you DON'T derive "all women want to look young, sexy and thin" from that.
The important thing to note is that the culture tells that to women, and each woman reacts differently to it.
And you can build stories around those differences.
Let's say one of your characters, Alice, applies for a managerial job at Staples.
Up against her is Elizabeth, who is younger and thinner.
How does that fact affect Alice as she sits in outside the interview room, waiting to be called?
Her culture has told her that Elizabeth will be valued more highly that she will.
Maybe Alice caves under that pressure.
If she has extremely low self-esteem, she might run out of the building in tears.
Or, she might be strong enough to put Elizabeth out of her mind.
Maybe she runs to the ladies room and checks her makeup.
.
.
Or maybe she sniggers, knowing that the interviewers will, at first, be seduced by Elizabeth's looks, but knowing that they'll then be blown away by her (Alice's) talents and experience.
Or maybe Alice had a unconventional upbringing that somehow sheltered her from the pressures many other women feel in situations like this.
The point is, as an author, you should learn the messages culture sends to women and then decide how your particular female character deals with them.
(If you're a heterosexual man, think about your ideal woman.
Women are told to be like her.
)
Of course, there are plenty of messages culture sends to both men and women.
As a man, you probably know about the ones men hear.
Think about which of those woman might hear, too.
For instance, are women told "You're a loser if you can't lift heavy things?" Are any women likely to be affected by that message? Are some women? No women?
So if one of your female characters needs to lift something and is too weak to do so, what does she feel? Does she just feel the frustration of not being able to get the job done? Or does she also feel embarrassed that she's not strong enough?
If you're unsure how a woman might feel in this situation, ask some women.
If you don't have real-life women to ask, ask online (e.
g.
Quora).
You will get a variety of answers, since each woman is different.
Pick one you find interesting and use it in your story.
Below are SOME messages that my culture sends women.
Think about your character, the situation she's in, and how she might deal if faced with this message.
(Maybe other people, especially women, could add to this list or correct it.
)
— "You are not pretty enough.
You SHOULD look like a supermodel, but you don't.
Anything else is inadequate.
"
— "You are too old.
"
— "You are too fat.
"
— "You are incapable of doing anything that requires high intelligence.
"
Note that our culture is in a state of flux.
Hillary Clinton was a presidential candidate.
It's getting more and more common for young girls to grow up with powerful, smart, female role models.
Even the most conservative factions of the country have embraced the idea of a female president (Sarah Palin).
But the idea that women aren't as capable as men (in business, academic and political arenas) still exists.
I think women, today, get a confusing "yes you can!" "no you can't" set of messages.
Which is dramatically interesting.
Ask where your character stands on that spectrum.
— "You should have kids by now.
" or "You should be sacrificing more for the kids you already have.
"
Again, not all women feel that way.
It's a voice in our culture that an individual woman will crumble under, endure, embrace, run from, ignore or not even hear.
— "You should be in a relationship with a man.
"
— "You should defer to men.
"
— "You should NOT defer to men.
"
— "Other women are out to get you.
They want your status, your job, your man.
.
.
"
— "You have a responsibility to other women.
They are part of a sisterhood with you.
"
— "Your job is to care for people.
"
— "You are a bad person if you appear conceited.
"
— "Your goal is to be as popular as possible.
"
— "Men think you're stupid.
"
— "Any interest from a man, even if it seems like something else, is sexual interest.
"
— "It is impossible for men to be faithful.
"
— "There's a perfect man out there somewhere.
Find him or wait for him.
"
— "Downplay your sexuality.
"
— "Keep poised at all times, e.
g.
you lose if you ever fart in public.
"
— "You are unsafe.
" Men tend to misunderstand how often (many) women feel physically threatened.
— "Continually keep up to date in fashion trends.
You snooze, you lose.
"
A couple of notes: one way that men and women are obviously different is physically.
Women have different physical hurdles than men, including menstruation and menopause.
If you don't understand these key bits of biology, read up.
Also note that women are more subject than men to certain medical conditions, such as breast cancer and osteopetrosis.
One concept that men often don't get is how important female-female relationships are to many women.
If a woman worries about her outfit and makeup before going to work, men often assume this HAS to be because she's worried about how her male coworkers will view her.
Of course, heterosexual women DO tend to want attention from men, but many women also care deeply about how OTHER WOMEN view them.
And not (necessarily) because they're lesbians.
This is alien to a lot of men, because we don't tend to care all that much what our male buddies and coworkers think of our clothes.
We dress to attract women, so we assume women dress (only) to attract men.
(As a man, have you EVER been upset because another man in your office is wearing the same outfit as you?)
In my experience, women watch each other very closely, and most women are continually aware that they're being watched by other women.
They want to be respected by their peers.
I have explained this by using the example of fashion, but it's a pretty big aspect of life for most women I know: how they relate to other women, how other women view them, how they rank when compared to other women, etc.
Male authors sometimes make the blunder of assuming that the only relationships that matters to women are relationships with men.

For the love of all that is sacred, don't assume that a woman has to have rape and sexual abuse in her past to be strong and mysterious and cool.
If you are writing romance from the guy's perspective, think of your partner or exes.
If you have none, and have trouble dating, you need the advice of women in your life because it will become wish fulfillment with out experience.
Gain this experience any way you can.
If you are trying to write from the female point of view, challenge yourself to come up with traits that might seem boring at first, then expand upon them to form down to earth characters.
If they must be larger than life, understand that being badass takes work and sacrifice and years of repetitive training.
Work.
And the definition of an adventure is actually something that sucks at the time, but makes a good story later.

Personally, I disagree with some of the other answers to this question.
Every answer sounds like men and women are so different, to the point that we are practically different species.
You want to know how I write female characters? I write them as humans (and I do the same for the men).
They get human characteristics and attributes.
I do not present them as superior or inferior to men, they are equals, because both genders are human.
In my opinion, focusing too heavily on what differentiates men and women is what leads to stereotypes in writing.
A person’s identity should not be defined by their gender, but by their actual personality (a man and a woman can score the same personality in a personality test and I can guarantee you that that personality will tell you more about these people than their gender).
That being said, when I write female characters, I use their personalities, not their gender, as my guide to figuring out how they would act and respond in their situations.
I believe the most common mistake is trying to treat the two genders differently, to try to differentiate them (and perhaps even elevate one above the other).
If you want to write a believable female character, forget about the “female” part and focus on writing a believable character who happens to be female.
That, I believe, is the real formula to success.

Any character, in my opinion, is never devoid of flaws.
So for a character to be appealing it should be a good mix of good and bad, one with a sense of vulnerability and strength, one you know will react in a certain way in a given situation and at the same time is stupid enough to get into dicey situations.
Ayn Rand’s portrayal of
Vijeta Biradar's answer to What is your review for Preeti Shenoy's "Life Is What You Make It"?.

"How do you write a believable female character in a story? (If you have little experience with women)"
Exactly how little is your experience with women? I assume you have a mother and possible aunts, maybe even sisters or female friends.
If you don't have female friends, make some to give you feedback.
Most of the time, if you've written something and you ask a female reader to give you feedback, she will tell you whether something is incongruous to female sensibilities.
For instance, in one of my drafts I had a woman invite a man over to her apartment for the first time, then the next scene starts with the man arriving.
A female reader said that most women cannot stop fretting about the appearance of their apartment when someone they like comes over for the first time, and they might even frantically try to fix any perceived mess before her guest arrives.
So I inserted a scene where she does just that and that also brings some comic relief.

What works best is trying to write a believable female character first before you ask for feedback.
If you're totally clueless about women, you might want to check out this book that highlights differences between men and women in how they approach dating and relationships: "
I could write a million variations of your question, like.
.
.
— How can I write a book with a Chinese protagonist when I'm not Chinese?
— How can I write a book set in the 1930? I wasn't even born back then?
— How can I write a story from a little kid's point-of-view? I'm in my 40s!
— How can I write a story set in France? I've never been there!
etc.
Here's how: you get off your butt and research!
First of all, there's no such thing as "a woman.
" What sort of woman? Is she a midwestern high-school girl or a Wall Street executive? Knowing those sorts of details will give you a lead.
Because you can't research "what it's like to be a woman.
" But you CAN research what it's like to be a high-school girl, a woman executive at a Fortune 500 company, a female astronaut, a hooker in Detroit, etc.
There are books about all these sorts of people.
There are movies about them.
There are documentaries about them.
There are books written BY them.
If necessary, put an ad on Craislist and pay people to let you interview them.
Don't just read one book.
If I was going to write about a midwestern high-school girl (I'm a middle-aged, male, New Yorker), I would read ten books (a mixture of fiction and non-fiction), find out what TV shows and music are popular with high-school girls and study them.
And I'd see if there were any actual high-school girls I could interview.
In the end, everyone here is right: women are just people.
The main thing is that you need to know what your character wants.
The particulars of her gender, class, age, etc.
will create obstacles to her getting what she wants.
We all want the same things: security, joy, sex, love, power, etc.
Once you get to know all the intimate details about — say — waitresses in Nevada, you'll be able to think logically about what obstacles they face when they're looking for love (or whatever).
I am sorry if I mischaracterized you.
Obviously, I don't know you, so it's possible that you're not lazy at all.
By "you," I'm really referring to the many young writers I've met who think writing means sitting down in front of a computer, having done no research at all, and this churning stuff out.
And when they get stuck, they ask questions like "How do you write a sci-fi novel when you don't know anything about Science?" When someone suggests "research," they don't want to hear it.
And I understand why they don't.
Few people like to do homework.
The REAL writers are the ones who do the homework.
They keep researching and researching until they feel like experts on whatever topic they're writing about.
Until they feel confident that they KNOW the subject.
Then they can forget about all the research.
They CAN just churn it out.
Facts from the research will just start entering their brains when needed.
— UPDATE —
I highly recommend the works of Deborah Tannen, a linguist who studies men and women as if they are two different cultures (in the same way that one might study Americans and Australians).
" " Think of how each marine reacts to the same situation, with special reference to Bill Pullman's character.
That movie is like a masterclass in writing distinct characters.
)
My culture (middle class, American) throws women this curveball: "You need to look young, sexy and thin.
"
Again, it's KEY that you DON'T derive "all women want to look young, sexy and thin" from that.
The important thing to note is that the culture tells that to women, and each woman reacts differently to it.
And you can build stories around those differences.
Let's say one of your characters, Alice, applies for a managerial job at Staples.
Up against her is Elizabeth, who is younger and thinner.
How does that fact affect Alice as she sits in outside the interview room, waiting to be called?
Her culture has told her that Elizabeth will be valued more highly that she will.
Maybe Alice caves under that pressure.
If she has extremely low self-esteem, she might run out of the building in tears.
Or, she might be strong enough to put Elizabeth out of her mind.
Maybe she runs to the ladies room and checks her makeup.
.
.
Or maybe she sniggers, knowing that the interviewers will, at first, be seduced by Elizabeth's looks, but knowing that they'll then be blown away by her (Alice's) talents and experience.
Or maybe Alice had a unconventional upbringing that somehow sheltered her from the pressures many other women feel in situations like this.
The point is, as an author, you should learn the messages culture sends to women and then decide how your particular female character deals with them.
(If you're a heterosexual man, think about your ideal woman.
Women are told to be like her.
)
Of course, there are plenty of messages culture sends to both men and women.
As a man, you probably know about the ones men hear.
Think about which of those woman might hear, too.
For instance, are women told "You're a loser if you can't lift heavy things?" Are any women likely to be affected by that message? Are some women? No women?
So if one of your female characters needs to lift something and is too weak to do so, what does she feel? Does she just feel the frustration of not being able to get the job done? Or does she also feel embarrassed that she's not strong enough?
If you're unsure how a woman might feel in this situation, ask some women.
If you don't have real-life women to ask, ask online (e.
g.
Quora).
You will get a variety of answers, since each woman is different.
Pick one you find interesting and use it in your story.
Below are SOME messages that my culture sends women.
Think about your character, the situation she's in, and how she might deal if faced with this message.
(Maybe other people, especially women, could add to this list or correct it.
)
— "You are not pretty enough.
You SHOULD look like a supermodel, but you don't.
Anything else is inadequate.
"
— "You are too old.
"
— "You are too fat.
"
— "You are incapable of doing anything that requires high intelligence.
"
Note that our culture is in a state of flux.
Hillary Clinton was a presidential candidate.
It's getting more and more common for young girls to grow up with powerful, smart, female role models.
Even the most conservative factions of the country have embraced the idea of a female president (Sarah Palin).
But the idea that women aren't as capable as men (in business, academic and political arenas) still exists.
I think women, today, get a confusing "yes you can!" "no you can't" set of messages.
Which is dramatically interesting.
Ask where your character stands on that spectrum.
— "You should have kids by now.
" or "You should be sacrificing more for the kids you already have.
"
Again, not all women feel that way.
It's a voice in our culture that an individual woman will crumble under, endure, embrace, run from, ignore or not even hear.
— "You should be in a relationship with a man.
"
— "You should defer to men.
"
— "You should NOT defer to men.
"
— "Other women are out to get you.
They want your status, your job, your man.
.
.
"
— "You have a responsibility to other women.
They are part of a sisterhood with you.
"
— "Your job is to care for people.
"
— "You are a bad person if you appear conceited.
"
— "Your goal is to be as popular as possible.
"
— "Men think you're stupid.
"
— "Any interest from a man, even if it seems like something else, is sexual interest.
"
— "It is impossible for men to be faithful.
"
— "There's a perfect man out there somewhere.
Find him or wait for him.
"
— "Downplay your sexuality.
"
— "Keep poised at all times, e.
g.
you lose if you ever fart in public.
"
— "You are unsafe.
" Men tend to misunderstand how often (many) women feel physically threatened.
— "Continually keep up to date in fashion trends.
You snooze, you lose.
"
A couple of notes: one way that men and women are obviously different is physically.
Women have different physical hurdles than men, including menstruation and menopause.
If you don't understand these key bits of biology, read up.
Also note that women are more subject than men to certain medical conditions, such as breast cancer and osteopetrosis.
One concept that men often don't get is how important female-female relationships are to many women.
If a woman worries about her outfit and makeup before going to work, men often assume this HAS to be because she's worried about how her male coworkers will view her.
Of course, heterosexual women DO tend to want attention from men, but many women also care deeply about how OTHER WOMEN view them.
And not (necessarily) because they're lesbians.
This is alien to a lot of men, because we don't tend to care all that much what our male buddies and coworkers think of our clothes.
We dress to attract women, so we assume women dress (only) to attract men.
(As a man, have you EVER been upset because another man in your office is wearing the same outfit as you?)
In my experience, women watch each other very closely, and most women are continually aware that they're being watched by other women.
They want to be respected by their peers.
I have explained this by using the example of fashion, but it's a pretty big aspect of life for most women I know: how they relate to other women, how other women view them, how they rank when compared to other women, etc.
Male authors sometimes make the blunder of assuming that the only relationships that matters to women are relationships with men.

For the love of all that is sacred, don't assume that a woman has to have rape and sexual abuse in her past to be strong and mysterious and cool.
If you are writing romance from the guy's perspective, think of your partner or exes.
If you have none, and have trouble dating, you need the advice of women in your life because it will become wish fulfillment with out experience.
Gain this experience any way you can.
If you are trying to write from the female point of view, challenge yourself to come up with traits that might seem boring at first, then expand upon them to form down to earth characters.
If they must be larger than life, understand that being badass takes work and sacrifice and years of repetitive training.
Work.
And the definition of an adventure is actually something that sucks at the time, but makes a good story later.

Personally, I disagree with some of the other answers to this question.
Every answer sounds like men and women are so different, to the point that we are practically different species.
You want to know how I write female characters? I write them as humans (and I do the same for the men).
They get human characteristics and attributes.
I do not present them as superior or inferior to men, they are equals, because both genders are human.
In my opinion, focusing too heavily on what differentiates men and women is what leads to stereotypes in writing.
A person’s identity should not be defined by their gender, but by their actual personality (a man and a woman can score the same personality in a personality test and I can guarantee you that that personality will tell you more about these people than their gender).
That being said, when I write female characters, I use their personalities, not their gender, as my guide to figuring out how they would act and respond in their situations.
I believe the most common mistake is trying to treat the two genders differently, to try to differentiate them (and perhaps even elevate one above the other).
If you want to write a believable female character, forget about the “female” part and focus on writing a believable character who happens to be female.
That, I believe, is the real formula to success.

Any character, in my opinion, is never devoid of flaws.
So for a character to be appealing it should be a good mix of good and bad, one with a sense of vulnerability and strength, one you know will react in a certain way in a given situation and at the same time is stupid enough to get into dicey situations.
Ayn Rand’s portrayal of
Vijeta Biradar's answer to What is your review for Preeti Shenoy's "Life Is What You Make It"?.

"How do you write a believable female character in a story? (If you have little experience with women)"
Exactly how little is your experience with women? I assume you have a mother and possible aunts, maybe even sisters or female friends.
If you don't have female friends, make some to give you feedback.
Most of the time, if you've written something and you ask a female reader to give you feedback, she will tell you whether something is incongruous to female sensibilities.
For instance, in one of my drafts I had a woman invite a man over to her apartment for the first time, then the next scene starts with the man arriving.
A female reader said that most women cannot stop fretting about the appearance of their apartment when someone they like comes over for the first time, and they might even frantically try to fix any perceived mess before her guest arrives.
So I inserted a scene where she does just that and that also brings some comic relief.

What works best is trying to write a believable female character first before you ask for feedback.
If you're totally clueless about women, you might want to check out this book that highlights differences between men and women in how they approach dating and relationships: "
I could write a million variations of your question, like.
.
.
— How can I write a book with a Chinese protagonist when I'm not Chinese?
— How can I write a book set in the 1930? I wasn't even born back then?
— How can I write a story from a little kid's point-of-view? I'm in my 40s!
— How can I write a story set in France? I've never been there!
etc.
Here's how: you get off your butt and research!
First of all, there's no such thing as "a woman.
" What sort of woman? Is she a midwestern high-school girl or a Wall Street executive? Knowing those sorts of details will give you a lead.
Because you can't research "what it's like to be a woman.
" But you CAN research what it's like to be a high-school girl, a woman executive at a Fortune 500 company, a female astronaut, a hooker in Detroit, etc.
There are books about all these sorts of people.
There are movies about them.
There are documentaries about them.
There are books written BY them.
If necessary, put an ad on Craislist and pay people to let you interview them.
Don't just read one book.
If I was going to write about a midwestern high-school girl (I'm a middle-aged, male, New Yorker), I would read ten books (a mixture of fiction and non-fiction), find out what TV shows and music are popular with high-school girls and study them.
And I'd see if there were any actual high-school girls I could interview.
In the end, everyone here is right: women are just people.
The main thing is that you need to know what your character wants.
The particulars of her gender, class, age, etc.
will create obstacles to her getting what she wants.
We all want the same things: security, joy, sex, love, power, etc.
Once you get to know all the intimate details about — say — waitresses in Nevada, you'll be able to think logically about what obstacles they face when they're looking for love (or whatever).
I am sorry if I mischaracterized you.
Obviously, I don't know you, so it's possible that you're not lazy at all.
By "you," I'm really referring to the many young writers I've met who think writing means sitting down in front of a computer, having done no research at all, and this churning stuff out.
And when they get stuck, they ask questions like "How do you write a sci-fi novel when you don't know anything about Science?" When someone suggests "research," they don't want to hear it.
And I understand why they don't.
Few people like to do homework.
The REAL writers are the ones who do the homework.
They keep researching and researching until they feel like experts on whatever topic they're writing about.
Until they feel confident that they KNOW the subject.
Then they can forget about all the research.
They CAN just churn it out.
Facts from the research will just start entering their brains when needed.
— UPDATE —
I highly recommend the works of Deborah Tannen, a linguist who studies men and women as if they are two different cultures (in the same way that one might study Americans and Australians).
" " Think of how each marine reacts to the same situation, with special reference to Bill Pullman's character.
That movie is like a masterclass in writing distinct characters.
)
My culture (middle class, American) throws women this curveball: "You need to look young, sexy and thin.
"
Again, it's KEY that you DON'T derive "all women want to look young, sexy and thin" from that.
The important thing to note is that the culture tells that to women, and each woman reacts differently to it.
And you can build stories around those differences.
Let's say one of your characters, Alice, applies for a managerial job at Staples.
Up against her is Elizabeth, who is younger and thinner.
How does that fact affect Alice as she sits in outside the interview room, waiting to be called?
Her culture has told her that Elizabeth will be valued more highly that she will.
Maybe Alice caves under that pressure.
If she has extremely low self-esteem, she might run out of the building in tears.
Or, she might be strong enough to put Elizabeth out of her mind.
Maybe she runs to the ladies room and checks her makeup.
.
.
Or maybe she sniggers, knowing that the interviewers will, at first, be seduced by Elizabeth's looks, but knowing that they'll then be blown away by her (Alice's) talents and experience.
Or maybe Alice had a unconventional upbringing that somehow sheltered her from the pressures many other women feel in situations like this.
The point is, as an author, you should learn the messages culture sends to women and then decide how your particular female character deals with them.
(If you're a heterosexual man, think about your ideal woman.
Women are told to be like her.
)
Of course, there are plenty of messages culture sends to both men and women.
As a man, you probably know about the ones men hear.
Think about which of those woman might hear, too.
For instance, are women told "You're a loser if you can't lift heavy things?" Are any women likely to be affected by that message? Are some women? No women?
So if one of your female characters needs to lift something and is too weak to do so, what does she feel? Does she just feel the frustration of not being able to get the job done? Or does she also feel embarrassed that she's not strong enough?
If you're unsure how a woman might feel in this situation, ask some women.
If you don't have real-life women to ask, ask online (e.
g.
Quora).
You will get a variety of answers, since each woman is different.
Pick one you find interesting and use it in your story.
Below are SOME messages that my culture sends women.
Think about your character, the situation she's in, and how she might deal if faced with this message.
(Maybe other people, especially women, could add to this list or correct it.
)
— "You are not pretty enough.
You SHOULD look like a supermodel, but you don't.
Anything else is inadequate.
"
— "You are too old.
"
— "You are too fat.
"
— "You are incapable of doing anything that requires high intelligence.
"
Note that our culture is in a state of flux.
Hillary Clinton was a presidential candidate.
It's getting more and more common for young girls to grow up with powerful, smart, female role models.
Even the most conservative factions of the country have embraced the idea of a female president (Sarah Palin).
But the idea that women aren't as capable as men (in business, academic and political arenas) still exists.
I think women, today, get a confusing "yes you can!" "no you can't" set of messages.
Which is dramatically interesting.
Ask where your character stands on that spectrum.
— "You should have kids by now.
" or "You should be sacrificing more for the kids you already have.
"
Again, not all women feel that way.
It's a voice in our culture that an individual woman will crumble under, endure, embrace, run from, ignore or not even hear.
— "You should be in a relationship with a man.
"
— "You should defer to men.
"
— "You should NOT defer to men.
"
— "Other women are out to get you.
They want your status, your job, your man.
.
.
"
— "You have a responsibility to other women.
They are part of a sisterhood with you.
"
— "Your job is to care for people.
"
— "You are a bad person if you appear conceited.
"
— "Your goal is to be as popular as possible.
"
— "Men think you're stupid.
"
— "Any interest from a man, even if it seems like something else, is sexual interest.
"
— "It is impossible for men to be faithful.
"
— "There's a perfect man out there somewhere.
Find him or wait for him.
"
— "Downplay your sexuality.
"
— "Keep poised at all times, e.
g.
you lose if you ever fart in public.
"
— "You are unsafe.
" Men tend to misunderstand how often (many) women feel physically threatened.
— "Continually keep up to date in fashion trends.
You snooze, you lose.
"
A couple of notes: one way that men and women are obviously different is physically.
Women have different physical hurdles than men, including menstruation and menopause.
If you don't understand these key bits of biology, read up.
Also note that women are more subject than men to certain medical conditions, such as breast cancer and osteopetrosis.
One concept that men often don't get is how important female-female relationships are to many women.
If a woman worries about her outfit and makeup before going to work, men often assume this HAS to be because she's worried about how her male coworkers will view her.
Of course, heterosexual women DO tend to want attention from men, but many women also care deeply about how OTHER WOMEN view them.
And not (necessarily) because they're lesbians.
This is alien to a lot of men, because we don't tend to care all that much what our male buddies and coworkers think of our clothes.
We dress to attract women, so we assume women dress (only) to attract men.
(As a man, have you EVER been upset because another man in your office is wearing the same outfit as you?)
In my experience, women watch each other very closely, and most women are continually aware that they're being watched by other women.
They want to be respected by their peers.
I have explained this by using the example of fashion, but it's a pretty big aspect of life for most women I know: how they relate to other women, how other women view them, how they rank when compared to other women, etc.
Male authors sometimes make the blunder of assuming that the only relationships that matters to women are relationships with men.

For the love of all that is sacred, don't assume that a woman has to have rape and sexual abuse in her past to be strong and mysterious and cool.
If you are writing romance from the guy's perspective, think of your partner or exes.
If you have none, and have trouble dating, you need the advice of women in your life because it will become wish fulfillment with out experience.
Gain this experience any way you can.
If you are trying to write from the female point of view, challenge yourself to come up with traits that might seem boring at first, then expand upon them to form down to earth characters.
If they must be larger than life, understand that being badass takes work and sacrifice and years of repetitive training.
Work.
And the definition of an adventure is actually something that sucks at the time, but makes a good story later.

Personally, I disagree with some of the other answers to this question.
Every answer sounds like men and women are so different, to the point that we are practically different species.
You want to know how I write female characters? I write them as humans (and I do the same for the men).
They get human characteristics and attributes.
I do not present them as superior or inferior to men, they are equals, because both genders are human.
In my opinion, focusing too heavily on what differentiates men and women is what leads to stereotypes in writing.
A person’s identity should not be defined by their gender, but by their actual personality (a man and a woman can score the same personality in a personality test and I can guarantee you that that personality will tell you more about these people than their gender).
That being said, when I write female characters, I use their personalities, not their gender, as my guide to figuring out how they would act and respond in their situations.
I believe the most common mistake is trying to treat the two genders differently, to try to differentiate them (and perhaps even elevate one above the other).
If you want to write a believable female character, forget about the “female” part and focus on writing a believable character who happens to be female.
That, I believe, is the real formula to success.

Any character, in my opinion, is never devoid of flaws.
So for a character to be appealing it should be a good mix of good and bad, one with a sense of vulnerability and strength, one you know will react in a certain way in a given situation and at the same time is stupid enough to get into dicey situations.
Ayn Rand’s portrayal of
Vijeta Biradar's answer to What is your review for Preeti Shenoy's "Life Is What You Make It"?.

"How do you write a believable female character in a story? (If you have little experience with women)"
Exactly how little is your experience with women? I assume you have a mother and possible aunts, maybe even sisters or female friends.
If you don't have female friends, make some to give you feedback.
Most of the time, if you've written something and you ask a female reader to give you feedback, she will tell you whether something is incongruous to female sensibilities.
For instance, in one of my drafts I had a woman invite a man over to her apartment for the first time, then the next scene starts with the man arriving.
A female reader said that most women cannot stop fretting about the appearance of their apartment when someone they like comes over for the first time, and they might even frantically try to fix any perceived mess before her guest arrives.
So I inserted a scene where she does just that and that also brings some comic relief.

What works best is trying to write a believable female character first before you ask for feedback.
If you're totally clueless about women, you might want to check out this book that highlights differences between men and women in how they approach dating and relationships: Which male author creates the most believable female characters

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