Holla young adventurer! Sick of having to cover your younger sister’s eyes when a scantily clad high priestess appears after a boss fight? Tired of your girlfriend writhing whenever the protagonist of the movie you’re watching enters the fifth brothel of the day? Done with explaining how these things aren’t misogynistic because female characters are enjoying being themselves?
You’ve come to the right place! Writing a “well-rounded” woman has eluded authors for centuries. And we get it — women are crazy complex! It’s not like they account for half of Basic Human Society and are capable, intelligent humans who are focused on more things than men and sex! Pfft.
That would make it all too easy.
No, you’re here because it’s hard. So hard, that we assembled a guide to make it easier. Now, it’s not perfect: We tried to reverse-engineer the process of what creating female characters must be like based on popular media like “The Witcher,” “Lord of the Rings” and — everyone’s favorite — “Game of Thrones.” Upon seeing their results and speculating on the process, we have a sneaking suspicion that it’s pretty darn accurate.
So, without any further ado, here it is:
THE ABSOLUTELY FAIL-PROOF GUIDE TO WRITING REALLY COMPLEX, WELL-ROUNDED WOMEN IN HIGH FANTASY.
1. Give her autonomy — And since the only way women can gain autonomy is through their sex appeal, this is the starting point for all other creative decisions you’ll have to make about this character. We can start with two broad categories:
a. Not-a-virgin — This is an incredibly popular kind of female character to put in high fantasy! The non-virgin can be seen for up to a whole season (if she is having sex with the protagonist or his nemesis, of course) or as little as one episode (what better way to kick off a post-commercial break than with your hero grunting into a faceless feminine silhouette with elf ears?) (see truly any episode of “Game of Thrones”). They can come in all shapes and sizes but, remember, if she starts off “ugly” or “childish” you must include a moment where she is magically cured of her ugliness or grows up. (See Yennefer in Netflix’s “The Witcher.”)
b. Virgin! — This group can be trickier but don’t worry! There are still plenty of great characters you can make with virgins. I suggest that they either be a child (bonus points if she dresses like a boy for most of her screen-time) or a crone. Maybe your crone commands an army! She can do this, but you have to make sure that — though no one would have sex with a woman over 35 years old — her armor is sculpted to accentuate her breasts and hips.
2. Give her a backstory.
a. This is a great one if you’re feeling stuck! Simply essentialize your female character to a role a woman has played in your life (think mothers, daughters, sisters, etc.) A great way to add complexity to a mother character, for instance, is to also make that character the protagonist’s lover. We love to see women who’s only purpose is to mom the protagonist after they’re done having sex.
3. Be generous with screen time.
a. BUT, if she’s powerful, intelligent, self-sufficient and not constantly naked, then she’s only allowed to be on screen for about 10-12 minutes total. No more. Oh! Also, she has to die an on-screen death (preferably suicide). Sorry man, they’re just the rules.
4. Accept what you don’t know.
a. If you’re too stuck, just give up! Make an all-male show. We get it, it’s hard, young fella. It’s the thought that counts. You tried!
5. Hire or consult diverse women writers.
If you liked this content, please check out my other article “NON-BINARY REPRESENTATION IN HIGH FAN—” oh, wait. It doesn’t exist. My bad.