A Screenwriter’s Guide to Female Characters

Dear Aspiring Screenwriters,

As a respected screenwriter, I have decided to pass on some of my knowledge to the newest generation of screenwriters. Hollywood is a hard business, and you’ll need all the help you can get.

One of my biggest achievements is being praised for my Strong Female Characters. In this day and age, my fellow writers, we can’t afford to be lazy in writing female characters. The Social Justice Warriors are rampant. In fact, they stand outside your homes and plot to kidnap you if you do one thing wrong. We can no longer go back to the glory days of Hollywood where there were all-male casts. Now there are films being made with almost half the cast being female! Between you and me, I understand how ridiculous and unfair this is, too. But alas, the times are changing, and we must adapt with it. Luckily, I have some tips to help you navigate these tricky new waters.

There are three types of women you can write, because there are only three types of women in the world. The Strong Female Character Who Fights, The Strong Female Character Who Cries, and the Strong Female Character Who Nags. They all must be Strong Female Characters, because if you don’t make sure to include that when you introduce them, people will crucify you on Twitter. But just so you know, Strong Female Character doesn’t require much, so don’t worry.

strong-female

The Strong Female Character Who Fights is a very popular character right now. She is a warrior goddess. She is thin, wiry, and white (occasionally can be something else, see below). Make sure to have her introduction scene be awesome, like, about half the quality of the Main Hero Man’s action scenes. She has to fight people by wrapping her legs around them, or another fight method that could be interpreted as being seductive, and she has to show the Main Hero Man how better she is than him. That way, no one can call you un-feminist. After that, you can ignore her as much as you like, because if people ask why she loses her fighting ability in the next scene, just remind them how awesome she was in the first scene. People will forget.

Make sure that if you have a Strong Female Character, make her natural. Men like natural women. Now, of course she has to wear makeup and tight leather, which I’m sure is easy to fight in, but never show her doing anything to her appearance. That’s girly and not at all Strong. Make sure she has witty, yet flirtatious comebacks. If she is in a group, she must be the only female character. A ratio of 1:5 is good. Remember: male audiences cannot relate to women on any level, so make sure they have plenty of diverse male characters to relate to. Also make sure that the Main Hero Man and Strong Female Character Who Fights get together in the end. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t set the relationship up. They have both punched people before, so their connection is obvious.

If your Strong Female Character Who Fights is going solo, be careful. Make sure that her motivation is strictly from either a bad relationship (women get emotional about that kind of stuff) or the death of a family member, particularly the men or children in her life. Women do not have the same inherent sense of justice that men to, due to them probably never being a victim of injustice (like men often are) and so everything about them must be attached to a relationship of some kind. Plus, this will add to her Layered Personality.

If you choose to have any of your main female characters be black or any other ethnicity, make sure to get the actress to be as light-skinned as possible, to make sure everyone is comfortable. And remember- it doesn’t matter if your female character doesn’t look like she could lift a stick. If you have a curvy or overweight actress, then you are glorifying obesity and will make the character a bad role model to young girls. On a side note, feel free to cast anyone from Chris Hemsworth to Jonah Hill as your Main Hero Man.

The Strong Female Character Who Cries used to be called the Romantic Interest, but social media doesn’t like that term anymore, so describe them with words like “Complex” and “Vulnerable.” She’s the character who stays at home and supports the Main Hero Man from a distance. She cries a lot, and hugs her children even more, because she is vulnerable and complex. You don’t need to show deep reasons for her pain. People will just get it, and the actress will probably get nominated for Best Supporting Actress. If you really want to make this character more interesting, have her be a victim of violence (if you want to go for the edgy Oscar, show this scene in grotesque detail without sympathy for real-life victims. Claim it is for the purposes of Art). Then the Main Hero Man will have a reason to fight besides his inherent sense of justice. You don’t need to examine the character’s growth after the violence occurs. Just make sure the Main Hero Man has righteous anger. If you’re afraid people will criticize you for the character, have her punch someone, cut her hair short, or say a curse word to secure her inner strength.

The Strong Female Character Who Nags includes girlfriends who want the Main Hero Man to marry them already, any Latina women, wives, grandmothers, mothers, mothers-in-law, and really any character that displays any distinctly feminine traits or have children (save for the Strong Female Character Who Fights, who only has dead children). Remember, for women to be strong and likeable, they need to be more masculine. Don’t even try to incorporate interesting observations on gender politics. Have a women punch a bad man in the face, and everyone will be happy.

Remember that in press interviews, refer to your female characters as Female Characters, and male characters are just characters. There is a distinct difference. Keep in mind, also, as you write that audiences are easily confused. Making your female character funny, or evil, or conflicted on any issues beside which shoes to buy, may confuse them, especially target-audience teenage boys who don’t regularly engage with girls and therefore don’t need to know about them.

Don’t forget this extra pro-tip: women love to use their sexuality as their first tool. Make sure your Strong Female Character That Fights uses her seductive powers in situations where her pre-established ability to fight could come in handy. It will appeal to every audience.

Keep writing, dear fellow screenwriters. I know it’s tricky new terrain, but using these easy tips, I think you will all be successful in creating an exciting and original career!

Sincerely,

A Hollywood Vet

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