How to write a bad ass female character for your novel

By the time you read this blog, I will be enjoying (hopefully) fun in the sun on my weeklong vacation. Normally this would be an empty blog but anytime I go and do something . . . you know, fun or productive. You guys don’t show up for the next blog! Well I prepared this time.

How to write a bad ass female character 101.

“Umm. Hold up, Mr. Luna. You are a male.”

Right you are! And that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman writing about a man or a man writing about a woman or a man writing about a man or a woman writing about a woman. Irrelevant! Let me tell you why.

Motivation, personality, and interests do not have a gender. Toughness, resolve, and determination also do not have a gender. A man can be interested in dresses and a woman could love cars. A man can be sweet and caring while a woman could be ruthless and dispassionate.

Remove the breasts, remove the cock and build a character from traits. Does it crave sex? Does it enjoy alcohol? Is it aggressive? Is it business savy? Is it courageous? Does it hate other people? Does it love the wrong person?

Now you have your starting foundation. What else do you need to turn this character into a bad ass? Think about all the characters you’ve been exposed to where you looked at them and went, “Whoa. That was bad ass.” These are generally based on actions which are sometimes born from traits. What are actions that create a bad ass character? Being able to defeat anyone with martial arts prowess; doing whatever the hell it wants regardless of what society says; getting back up despite feeling like it’s on the verge of death.

It helps to have an example of a bad ass. So let’s strip down Batman to the bare essentials.

Batman will now be referred to as it.

It has a traumatic past where both parents were shot and killed by a criminal. It vowed revenge and decided to train its body and mind to be the pinnacle of perfection. It is a loner, it knows how to fight, it has romances with other characters, it never gives up, it can outsmart its opponents, it doesn’t drink or do drugs, it isn’t afraid to do what it takes to get the job done.

Now let’s add a gender modifier but this time it’s going to sound different. Watch this.

She has a traumatic past where both parents were shot and killed by a criminal. She vowed revenge and decided to train her body and mind to be the pinnacle of perfection. She is a loner, she knows how to fight, she has romances with other characters, she never gives up, she can outsmart her opponents, she doesn’t drink or do drugs, she isn’t afraid to do what it takes to get the job done.

“Whoa, whoa. Hang on, Wilmar if that’s your real name. Women and men are different. Women have periods and boys can pee out campfires. Men generally tend to respond to situations with violence while women are more likely to ostracize someone from a group. What if I was writing historical fiction where women were treated as household slaves? Your advice is flawed!”

Well my imaginary outraged reader who only exists to create fictional conflict in my blog. Traits and personality are the foundation of your character. Gender physiology and psychology are the details which make your character believable. Societal norms impressed upon the character are just that, what society expects of them. “All the pretty little girls wear dresses. All the boys play with trucks.”

Whatever society expects of your bad ass character, he/she should do the opposite.

Here are some interesting articles on writing female characters.

Write women like human beings

K.M. Weiland creating strong female characters

(By the way I think the Bechdel test is bullshoot. If a female character wants to talk about a man then she should be allowed to do so if her motivations warrant it. Obviously she shouldn’t talk about JUST men but I think it’s natural for both genders to talk about the other.)

Tangent aside. The point I was trying to make was that yes, you will need to research how men and women behave. There are differences in mannerisms and reactions and physical limitations but that doesn’t mean you are a slave to them. You can have a girlie girl superheroine who can beat anyone down in a fist fight and then go shopping for shoes and purses later. Or you can make her into a complete tomboy who likes to dress like a guy, talk like a guy, and act like a guy despite being born a girl.

Do your research, study people, and once you have a solid grasp on the mechanics of the opposite gender. Write truthfully and create the back story and events that will form the personality of your character.

Okay, how’d I do? Was that helpful for you? If so, please share this blog with any other writer’s wishing to learn the craft. I’m not around this week to re-post and share so I’m counting on you guys to help me out here!

Have a great weekend!


Wilmar Luna

Couldn't be a superhero in real life so he decided to write his own. When he's not creating empowered female characters he can be found watching films, reading books, and playing lots of video games.
Buy his books here: https://www.thesilverninja.com/purchase/
Wilmar Luna
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