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Seven tips on writing female characters

Updated: Oct 11, 2020

Here are some straightforward ways to ensure your script gets off to a positive start when it comes to representing women in the right way.

  1. Easy place to start. It will depend on the project, but try to make sure there is an even spread of male and female characters in lead and subsidiary parts. Even in a male prison or boarding school, there are plenty of opportunities to introduce female characters. 

  2. Provide equal character detail for both your male and female characters. And please don’t let the female descriptions be solely about physical attributes. 

  3. When the stakes get high and the humour kicks in, check that your female characters are still around (or even better, involved!). Keep an eye out for female characters disappearing or losing purpose through the script. 

  4. Ensure female characters have professions too. In most scripts the male lead’s job/career is quite clear, and it does seem a lot of the time they want to be a musician. But that’s another story... These days it is unrealistic for female characters not to have careers, life goals and interests outside of men and having a family.  

  5. Really give some thought about whether the doctor, lawyer, builder, best buddy, needs to be a man. Quite often they don’t, and the story gets more interesting if they aren’t. And do the nurses, primary carers, receptionists need to be female? 

  6. Women cry all over the place in men’s scripts. And yet in my real life, I can go days without seeing a woman shed even a single tear. Does the lady in your script need to cry, have you earnt the right for her to cry yet? Is it sending across the right message? Heck, should it be a male that is crying? 

  7. ‘Darlings’, ‘honeys’, ‘loves’, these often creep in when men (and women) are talking to women. There are different rules up north, but these terms can feel problematic when it is only females being addressed this way. Obviously, there is nothing criminal in the odd darling here and there, but make sure these terms crop up as much as they do in real life, not more.

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