View Full Version : Are female leads a good idea?
January 5th, 2004, 07:21 AM
I'm writing a fantasy trilogy right now, and it's coming along nicely. I have the story for 3 books mapped out in pretty good detail and the first few chapters of the first book written.
My lead character is a young woman. What I wanted everyone's opinion on is, do you think that I am limiting my market by writing the books from a woman's point of view? Because when I starting thinking about it I couldn't think of any adult fantasy that's from a female's pov except for Marion Zimmer Bradley, and I don't want to emualate that kind of fantasy (too heavy on the romance, too light on the action). I don't know this for certain but it would seem that the majority of fantasy readers are male, so....am I limiting my audience? Or do male readers enjoy reading female pov too? This is likely a stupid question but I'm just curious.
I will have short bits of the story from other characters' povs, including several men, and actually there are more male characters than female, but most of the story will be through a woman's eyes.
Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
January 5th, 2004, 07:27 AM
why do you already know it is a trilogy?
what we need is more 300 page epics! (yes, one can write an epic with 300 pages).
and to answer your question: definitely you should write from your perspective. good female lead characters would be as important as good supports. do you want to go in the direction of Mary Gentle?
January 5th, 2004, 08:36 AM
I'm sure there are plenty of he-man types out there who have trouble emphasising with or appreciating female leads, but at the end of the day you can't please everyone.
Generally speaking fantasy writing which is very essentialist in its approach to gender gets my hackles up. By essentialism I mean the belief that the genders differ on an insurmountable primal level in their approach to living : essentialist beliefs might be things like a belief in female hysteria; male vigour versus female passivity and the still widely believed extistence of a 'mothering / maternal instinct' in women. Examples of essentialism in fantasy writing would be the midly sexist / southern gentleman approach of Robert Jordan and his braid-tugging women and forehead-knuckling men, the Eddings' two-dimensional female harpies and many writers from bygone days like the redoubtable Robert E. Howard, Tolkien et all. In the SF genre the other thread on Heinlein and his miraculous females is also relevent.
This treatment of gender as being a written-in-stone behavioral pattern irritates me in real life far more, though.
January 5th, 2004, 10:24 AM
There's a couple of strong woman leads but there's not that many because mostly men write fantasy. I think these days there's always a strong female role even if she's not the main hero. I don't know if you're a guy or girl but I think it's best that whatever gender you are you stick with. I hate it when authors try to write in a gender they obvilously know little about. Authors that succeed are damned good though. Take Harry Potter for instance. Every guy knows that puberty would have hit him way before the 5th book. I love a strong woman role. It's like the yin to the yang thing and as Uncle would say, "Hiyah!"
January 5th, 2004, 10:26 AM
Thanks for the thoughts.
Kalorn I'm planning my story as a trilogy because there is so much to the story, and it does naturally break into three main parts. I suppose I could try writing it as one book but it would be a thousand page epic, not a 300 page one. Keeping my writing short has never been a strong point of mine!
What's this thing about Mary Gentle? I've never read her books before.
January 5th, 2004, 10:30 AM
Try taking a look at Ash by Mary, he he want to meet the woman. She's too darned good with a sword too! And don't let her near a soft air gun.
Anyways Ash has a female lead character. Personally I like female leads, look at Anita Blake too. Although not fantasy its still female. Oh and Jean M.Auel's Ayla, Paula Volsky also uses a lot of female leads too.
One that's in the process of being written by myself contains a female lead.
January 5th, 2004, 02:10 PM
Of course female leads can work! What I would be taken back by is trying to write from that perpective. Like most fellers, I'm some times mystified how women think. I'm not saying this in a bad way, mind you, but its a different way of looking at the world.
January 5th, 2004, 06:58 PM
I'm a male reader. A story with a female lead, seen mainly from her POV. Would not put me off. I like strong female characters, so it would most likely attract my attention. I look forward to reading it one day.
January 5th, 2004, 07:32 PM
A lead character needs to be interesting to keep me caring; their gender isn't all that important to me. From that perspective, a female lead is neither a good nor a bad idea. However, if you create your story with a female lead in mind, it is a bad, bad, bad idea to change that, just to satisfy readers. You'd be risking to ruin your character!
January 5th, 2004, 09:58 PM
Have you read the Empire Trilogy by Fiest and Wurts? A prefect example of how to write three great books with a female lead. So long as the support cast and setting are up to scratch and the female is sufficiently fleshed out, then I foresee no problems.
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