We are all familiar with books that have a very plain or overused female character. This character, more ofthen than not, isn't relatable. She lacks personality or even continuity. She's plain gelatin... and no-one likes a flavorless dessert. So, here are three tips on how to break yourself as an author from the cookie-cutter female character mold.
1. Make a character sheet.
I will swear by character sheets! Character sheets are not only a huge aid in keeping continuity throughout the book, but they also help with making your female character even more human. Write down her appearance, what she does and does not like, and add some fears into the mix. The more you add to the sheet, the more human and real she will feel.
(If you're unsure of what to add to the sheet, here is a pre-made character sheet just for you.)
2. She is not perfect.
If you want your readers to relate to your female character then you need to tone down the perfection. She can't be stunning AND a master at basically everything. If she has a particular set of abilities then give her an equal set of weaknesses. If you're writing a fantasy or adventure novel and your female character has no idea how to handle a weapon, write that! Just make sure she doesn't become an expert swordsman or archer overnight.
If you want an example, take a look at Elizabeth from Jane Auston's 'Pride and Prejudice.' Elizabeth is, of course, a beautiful woman, but she has her set of imperfections. One way this is clearly seen is when she states that she cannot play the piano well. We are then convinced of this when she stumbles over the keys and notes. Throughout the book we see that she lacks many of the skills that women in her day were known to possess, but she is still a fantastic and very relatable character.
``My fingers,'' said Elizabeth, ``do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault -- because I would not take the trouble of practising. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman's of superior execution.''
Darcy smiled, and said, ``You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you, can think any thing wanting. We neither of us perform to strangers.''
3. She is not cliche.
If your female character falls into this category, then you may need to re-evaluate her entire purpose in your book. She's a strong, independent woman who is most likely the leader of a rebellion. She attracts many men but is emotionally unavailable due to her past. If she does end up in a relationship (which is often the case) she ends up taking the submissive role despite her personality being the direct opposite. Often when this female character is being portrayed she is the best fighter there is and has some anger issues or the like. Did I just describe your female? If so, then she may need a re-write.