Some writers have such a clarity of style, sense of character, and ear for dialogue that it makes me want to weep. Greg Rucka is one of the few. And he’s done a fascinating piece for io9 about writing ‘strong female characters’, people’s reaction to that, and what happens when people express concern about the way women are portrayed in comics.
But what it comes down to is that it’s all about character, and how your stories are driven by that. Which is harder and less common than it sounds.
This article is compulsory reading for everyone – whether you read comic books or not.
How Do You Write Such Strong Female Characters?
This past year, 2011, I was asked this question a lot, and here we are into the first quarter of 2012, and it’s happening again (or still, if you rather). Most frequently, it comes up in regard to my work in the comics industry. If you know comics, and if you know superhero comics specifically, you’ll likely be familiar with the reasons why. Last year was not banner for the ladies, and this one isn’t off to a strong start, either, in fact. Wasn’t good for women within the industry itself, nor within the pages of the stories being told.
Those who’ve had the unmitigated temerity to actually comment upon this state of affairs publicly have ended up paying a surprisingly heavy price. The gender of the speaker has been largely irrelevant, though to be sure, it’s the women who’ve stepped up have taken the harder hits. But all who’ve pointed out the absence of women both on the page and behind it have been ridiculed, insulted, and, absurdly enough, even threatened with violence. Conversely, those attempting to defend their mistreatment of women within the industry have revealed a staggering lack of understanding, empathy, and self-awareness, while seeming to rejoice in an arrogance that is near heart-stopping in its naked sexism and condescension.
To say there are those who don’t get it is an understatement; it would be like describing the Japanese tsunami as ‘minor flooding.’