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From Strength to Empowerment for Women in 2023: Building Remarkable Female Characters

diverse, females, women's empowerment 2023
Female Characters come in all colors.

Hey there, bookworms and writers alike! Last time, we discussed what true women's empowerment means in 2023 when writing kick-ass female characters. But writing these ladies is not as easy as slapping on a slogan and a logo. To be honest, even saying they’re ‘kick-ass’ isn’t enough. These ladies and girls need to be human. They do not need to be replacement men. The best kind of characters make us laugh, stand up for their beliefs, and give us a glimpse into our own struggles to make them relatable. So, what’s the secret sauce of crafting these deceptively strong, resilient, and totally relatable people?

Let’s dive into the ingredients:

The portrayal of a woman or girl of worth is all about creating multi-faceted individuals who drive stories with their strength, empathy, resilience, and authenticity. Ain’t no man’s gonna tell her what to do. But her mommy still can. Because, let’s face it, badass doesn’t have to mean ‘bad.’ Just as the trope-y bad boy persona bothers me, so does the rebellious daughter. No one is all bad. There are always shades of grey and that’s where the magic lies. It's about weaving layers of relatability that resonate with readers more deeply. And it’s not that hard. Just stop thinking ‘female’ characters and make them characters. Create characters who stand tall with their unique strengths while navigating challenges that mirror real-life complexities.

Make her:

  • Balanced: This has to be a character who can lift a car with one hand (or be a genius sleuth, doctor, or scientist) but still gets nervous before a blind date. It's all about that balance between being a badass and having moments of "OMG, why is adulting so hard?" This mix is like your favorite playlist – a perfect blend of upbeat and introspective tracks. Add a good dose of vulnerability, because let's face it. When are we not feeling vulnerable? Classic female archetypes were stories about vulnerability, I get it. Now make the story about being strong despite being vulnerable. It’s totally doable. The relatable struggles will keep the reader’s attention. Not the ass-kicking.

  • Driven: Give her goals that light her fire. Even if it’s just about getting a boyfriend/husband, make her driven. Because why not? We can all have so many goals: fight the bag guy, get the good guy, make our parents proud, have a baby, ace that job interview, be a CEO – everything. It’s all doable. We do this all the time, and so can your female characters. So don’t be scared to make her feminine; remember to give her motivation and purpose. Even if it’s that pile of laundry, she has to conquer. Don’t be afraid of them whether they seek justice, love, freedom, or personal growth. Just give them the chops to do it.

  • Complex: Make her not just someone you read about but someone you know. We all have stories. That 13-year-old venturing into a new school has a backstory. We ALL have them, so give your female characters context for their present —every choice she’s ever made or has made for her influences her identity. In my experience, our parents are powerful motivators. They are part of our stories, or not part of them, depending on our childhoods. So, do the same for your characters. Give them experience, and then let those life choices shape her. All characters are more relatable when they share our own experiences.

  • Flawed: Who’s perfect? In fact, perfect is passé, so when you’re making your female character think of flaws and weaknesses that make her human. (Even if she’s a superhero.) Let her grapple with those flaws and tackle those inner demons. That struggle is what will make your girl real. I mean, give her interesting and fun quirks, fears, and a tendency to binge-watch cat videos when life gets tough. (Oh god, we’ve all been there, right?) Humanize the hell out of her, and she’s sure to win your reader’s hearts.

  • Social: Give her a gang. Give her BFFs, love interests, frenemies, and a pet hamster named Sir Fluffsalot for all I care. But give her lots of people she can interact with. Most of her character traits, personality, likes, dislikes, and motivations will become more apparent as you throw her into a world full of other characters who interact with her. Craft those relationships for her to add depth as she navigates the social complexities we all face daily.

  • Grow: Map out arcs, emotional, physical, or supernatural. Create a journey for her. Let her learn and grow into the character you want to be. Show her progress and let the readers follow it. We all conquer doubt in our own ways and surmount life’s challenges, so make hers just as real. Tie in those emotions and changes to her experiences. No life rollercoaster is complete without our character taking a seat. Infuse your character's journey with resilience, perseverance, and self-discovery themes. From soaring highs to rock-bottom lows, her emotions reflect our own, making her someone we root for, cry with, and fist-pump the air for.

  • Have agency: Empower her. This is where you add the secret sauce. Give her a voice. Let her steer and make decisions. She can totally be the author of her own story. Why not? Aren’t we? The strength can be in her muscles, but it’s more real when it comes from purpose and within. Let them make choices, drive the plot, and influence their own destiny. I learned over my many years that the one greatest gift I got from my strong moms was the realization that I have a choice. (So many awesome women out there still don’t know it.)

  • Unique: Shatter those stereotypes, sure. But embrace the femininity. I love women who don’t forget they are women when they become CEOs, queens, or world-renowned assassins. Yes, we need to break away from those one-dimensional roles women and girls have always been assigned in literature and movies, but let’s not go overboard and be men. For me, that’s a bit of a no-go zone for female characters. Present them as engineers, warriors, leaders, or adventurers while letting them embrace softer qualities without diminishing their strength. I like to call it the ‘Sansa Stark Syndrome.’ In order to be queen, she had to be hardened and cold. I know I’ve said this before; I would instead write about Furiosa. She is tough, smart, and has a heart that shines right out of her chest. That’s a kick-ass female character.

mad max furiosa, strong, diverse, females, women's empowerment 2023
Furiosa from Masd Max

Now, all you gotta do is mix that smoothie! A dash of power, a sprinkle of vulnerability, a heap of perseverance, a smidge of doubt, a handful of purpose, and mix, mix, mix! With each witty line, epic battle, and vulnerable moment, we're not just crafting stories; we're crafting champions. Because let’s face it: we all want to be champions at one thing or another. Guess what mine is? ;)

Crafting strong yet relatable female characters is an intricate dance between strength and vulnerability. It's about fusing her human experience. So, as you embark on your storytelling adventure, remember that a strong female character is more than her punches; she's a punchline, a partner-in-crime, and a beacon of relatability for all of us.

If you're interested what characters I've written about, check out my original work on my Amazon Author page:

Or check out my fanfiction at:

Make those ladies rock!

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