Lately, especially, I feel like society is changing and that, in turn, should reflect in writing. There’s a lot of shaming that goes on around women both in reality and in fiction. If a woman in a novel is strong, she’s often seen as a bitch, but if she’s caring, she’s seen as weak. Female characters get a lot of hate, most of it undeserved. Sure, there are the occasional characters who couldn’t walk without a man on their arms (Bella Swan for one), but a lot of women characters get flak for things they don’t deserve.
Writing a strong female character isn’t about her being the perfect specimen of a woman – and what is that anyway? Ask a man and he might say obedient, quiet, physically gorgeous (aka starved if you pay attention to magazines). Of course, let’s not generalize. There are plenty of guys out there who like the loud, outspoken girls who don’t give a rat’s ass what others think of them. Of course, it’s those girls that often get branded as bitches. Is being a bitch a bad thing? As Amy Poehler and Tina Fey would say, “Bitches get stuff done!”
Your SFC doesn’t have to be a bitch to be strong either. She can be quiet and underspoken, sweet as pie but still have a strong sense of morals and loyalties. She doesn’t have to wear something provocative to satisfy someone else’s idea of beauty. What is a woman? Well, she’s a person first off, just like any other character. There are no rules that say she has to adhere to what society thinks a woman should be or act like. She doesn’t need a love interest to be interesting. You can add one if you want, but her love interest should not complete her. It should be an extension of her. If your character is not strong on her own, she won’t be strong with someone else.
It’s important for every single character in your novel to be a strong, well-rounded individual, regardless of sex. Women are no longer background characters. They’ve stepped up to the plate in many works recently, and it’s about time they got the recognition they deserve as being more than arm candy. They’re smart, sassy, witty, pretty, ugly, flawed, and everything a human being is, and that’s what we aim for our characters to be, after all.