When writing a character (whether for television, film, books or online articles), it’s important to make them as complex as human beings really are. But as we often say here on B2W, female characters are often marginalised and kept within dimensions that do not explore the entirety of their minds, feelings or their personalities.
Regardless of gender, it’s important for writers to understand the human condition and all of its working parts. And while some women feel male writers have struggled in the past to properly portray women in their writing, there are also plenty of male authors who adore creating female characters, and find them to be a constant source of inspiration.
Check out the following quotes from female experts and listen with an open mind. You may just find a new source of motivation or spark a new writing perspective of your own!
1) Patti Smith
I never felt oppressed because of my gender. When I’m writing a poem or drawing, I’m not a female; I’m an artist.
2) Lisa Gardner
It is difficult to get men to pick up a female author. Women will read men, but men won’t read women.
3) Lena Dunham
I love flawed female characters, duking it out. MORE: The B2W Ultimate Blueprint On How NOT To Write Female Characters
4) Helen Mirren
Two phrases I hate in reference to female characters are ‘strong’ and ‘feisty.’ They really annoy me. It’s the most condescending thing. You say that about a three-year-old. It infantilizes women.
5) Vera Farmiga
When I look at female characters, I want to recognize myself in them: my trials, my tribulations as a mother, as a lover, as a daughter.
6) Nikki Giovanni
We write because we believe the human spirit cannot be tamed and should not be trained.
7) Rachael Taylor
Often, as a young actress, you find yourself being the only girl in a room full of men… and one of the reasons why I like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is because they have such strong female characters and the women really drive this show.
8) L.J. Smith
I like strong female characters. I try to write them as role models for young girls.
9) Lorrie Moore
If you look at most women’s writing, women writers will describe women differently from the way male writers describe women. The details that go into a woman writer’s description of a female character are, perhaps, a little more judgmental. They’re looking for certain things, because they know what women do to look a certain way.
10) Maya Angelou
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
11) Rachel Cusk
A book is not an example of ‘women’s writing’ simply because it is written by a woman. Writing may become ‘women’s writing’ when it could not have been written by a man.
12) Mindy Kaling
I never want to be called “the funniest Indian female comedian that exists”. I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there. Why would I want to self-categorize myself into a smaller group than I’m able to compete in?
13) Simone De Beauvoir
Man is defined as a “human being” and a woman as a “female” – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.
14) Erica Jong
The problem with feminism in the second wave was that we fought so much among ourselves, and I think we did so much damage to the movement … and I think the next wave, the third wave, is women mentoring younger women and women helping younger women to enter the political process and the writing world.
15) Nikki Reed
I think for women especially, writing and creating your own role, producing, directing – having some control over what you do is really important. We can pave the way for other women to send what messages they want sent.
16) Lisa Scottoline
What I’m doing is writing stories about women who care about justice. They are women who think about the difference between right and wrong, what’s legal and illegal, ethical and unethical, moral and immoral. –
17) Callie Khouri
I like writing flawed women, and being one, it’s something I feel I can write with some veracity and authority. MORE: 9 Female Movie Screenwriters Worth Watching
18) Sheryl Sandberg
My hope in writing ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead’ was to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what we can.
19) Toni Morrison
Writing is really a way of thinking — not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.
20) Edwidge Danticat
Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. … [Write] knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them. MORE: Get a FREE ebook on how NOT to write female characters
Whether or not you enjoy reading and writing about females, they certainly offer a unique and essential look into the human experience. Women no longer need to be personified in a certain way. It’s no longer necessary to have your female characters be constant damsels in distress, or even wear a dress. But if they do, that’s fine as well.
The overarching point here is that times have changed! Let these quotes and excerpts inspire you to take a second look at your own writing … Hopefully they will inspire you to create a new generation of complex, interesting and flawed female characters.
MORE ON FEMALE WRITERS & CHARACTERS:
Want to compile a list like this for B2W?
This site is always looking for lists of quotes about writing. B2W is particularly interested in hearing the “alternative view” of the writing world, so quotes from (and about) female, LGBT, BAME and disabled writers, filmmakers and characters are especially welcome.
ALSO: B2W is also interested in quote lists of tips about writing, such as (but not limited to), dealing with rejection; being more productive; writing careers and more. GET IN TOUCH, NOW!