• January

How I write my female leads



One question I got asked recently was ‘what do I look for in a female main character?’ The quick answer to that question is strength, depth, guts and resilience. If you’ve read A Class Act, you’ll know that the female lead, Lottie, is an immensely strong character who starts out a little misguided but for understandable reasons, and grows into herself as the story unfolds. 


It is important to me to portray women as strong and capable, with a passion for their chosen career and for their independence. They are women’s women who value their friendships as much as their romantic relationships, and they don’t tread all over other people to find success. They work hard and their results speak for themselves. While the men in their lives find my girls physically attractive, it’s important that they are equally attracted by their brains and their strong wills. My female leads are flawed too and that’s also important to me. I want readers to root for them, so they need to have some colour in their make-up. Lottie had created a fake identity to give her a hand up the career ladder, but events conspire to ensure she eventually recognises the foolishness of this. And because she’s such a strong character, she doesn’t let the consequences define her. Instead, she embraces her new reality and is rewarded ten-fold.


I’d like to think that even my secondary female characters display strength. While Riya, for example, has a privileged background, she doesn’t let that define her. Instead, she works extremely hard at a job she’s passionate about and is a fiercely loyal friend to Lottie when the proverbial hits the fan. Similarly, even the female antagonists have the strength to know when they’ve failed someone or made a wrong decision.


The world we live in isn’t equal, and we see so much portrayal of women as weak, bitchy and ineffectual that half of the time, we don’t notice. I’ve been lucky enough to work with and know some really strong, passionate, talented and supportive women through my career, and I want to reflect that in my books. What’s the saying? If you can’t see it, you can’t be it? Well, I would like the girls in my books to be seen, so that other girls can be.


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© 2020 by January James