Liking our female characters



I’m writing about a lead character who is going to jump into the Void, and I want to like her more.  Isn’t it enough that she has the courage to jump? What’s missing?  I think about the female characters I like–most recently, Scott & Bailey, the detectives on a PBS series (that’s them above, with their boss on the left).  Why do I like them?  I have to admit the truth–it’s because they smoke, drink, and make bad relationship decisions.  And they might have tattoos.  They’re a mixture of girly-girls (make-up, skirts, heels), bad girls (smoking, drinking, etc.), and smart girls (we have evidence of this, usually in their work).

But I discover there’s something else that’s part of the hook–they have some kind of inner courage, every-day courage, the kind no one else usually knows about but that is a defining pattern for them. They hold steady on this. That’s what I want to see in my lead character–something that isn’t publicly seen but that is regularly practiced, that helps us understand her jump.  Other women might have a pattern of drama, a pattern of manipulation, a pattern of hiding, even a pay-it-forward pattern of kindness.  But these women have a consistent pattern of courage born from living against the grain.

If they come up against rejection, abandonment, violence, they don’t stick at that spot, memorializing it so that they can borrow from it later.  They’ll either take it aboard or they’ll discard it, but–either way–they move on.  They aren’t held back a grade because they haven’t gotten what came before.  They decide and move on.

I think it’s a hard thing to have.  Life pounds and pulls, telling them they’re weak or stupid or crazy, but bent and weather beaten, they stand, deciding against the grain.

For me, that makes these characters jumpers–women who would. Without making a fuss about it.  It’s what will make my lead character a jumper.

And I don’t think they’re alone out there.

I think that’s what you might be, if you’re reading this. A jumper. That’s what keeps me writing to you. I’m looking for the jumpers.