Creating Strong Characters

This is part of a guest post I wrote for author Lauren Dawes’ Blog.  
To read the full post click here: 
I was asked recently how I go about creating strong female characters.  The question took me aback, you see I don’t set out to create “strong female” characters – just diverse, believable characters of either sex.  (BTW I think characters should be “strong” regardless of gender and the term strong characters implies far more than their mere personality traits, but I’ll get to that…)
This question actually made me sit down and count the characters in my book. I had no idea how many women I’d included in Altaica and Asena Blessed.  The preponderance of female characters within my stories is most certainly due to the women around whom I grew up.  My mother was a woman capable of doing any of the farm work on our family farm that my father did, worked long hard hours and still found time for her children, despite her own exhaustion – super woman?  Yes, she was.  My grandmothers were both a huge influence on me too – their stories were far from easy and deserve their own novels.  My family is not unique.  These stories of strength, resilience, compassion and love are all around us and not just amongst women.
Let’s start talking about strong female characters? Well, what does that really mean?   Does it mean populating our writing only with female characters who are tough kick arse types?  No – of course not.  Yet too often I think the notion of strong female characters is seen only in this light.  Are these characters fun to write? You bet?  But you know what? They’d never reach the heights of popularity of characters like Katniss Everdeen, Rose Hathaway or Celaena Sardothien and Alanna of Trebond without having more substance to their characters than their astonishing combat skills.  What about characters like Hermione Granger, Scout, Hester Prynne, Jane Eyre, Anne Shirley?  (Yep I’m digging into the archives, but hey they’re all strong female characters!)  

The full post is up on author Lauren Dawes’ Blog.  So if you want to read my ideas regarding: 

  • What makes a strong character?
  • Characters should be strong regardless of gender 
  • How to create convincing characters