Screenwriting : Strong Female Characters by Aalijah Amaro

Aalijah Amaro

Strong Female Characters

Hey everyone,

I love screenwriting and character development. But I am looking for any tips you all might have for developing strong female characters, both lead and supporting. I am writing a screenplay with a lot of female characters, one being mute, the other having a rough past and others I'm still trying to get inspiration for. Please let me know.


Christine Capone

Do you have any strong, female women in your life? See what their strengths are or struggles and how they overcome them. Any woman that inspires you, make notes as to why they inspire you, then you can create characters from there. Hope that helps : )

Aalijah Amaro

Thanks :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Write them as you would for all other characters—as three-dimensional human beings. Write them as characters who have their own agency. Define them by who they are, not what they look like. If you can write effective characters then you can write any character, no matter the gender. ;)))

Ricardo Rangel Jr

Showing is better than telling. Strong actors will be key. Like Christine says, you can look to real life examples and convey their emotions in a way that the talent can show it.

John Fernando

my go-to screen women:

"This wasn't a lonely guy who lived with his cats."

Thomas Shaner

My take is make strong female characters but give them shitty love lifes,. That makes it more fun. Then you have characters who are badass but for some reason they fail hard at love.

Stan Barton

Have their passions be something besides focusing on a man or their love life. Put them together talking about other things.

Christine Capone

What also might help is to write down each character and what their motives are in the story. What is their goal, why is their goal so important and how are they going to achieve it. What is the end result for all of them? Also, my characters grew as I wrote my story. Just start writing. Introduce each character along the way and build them up from there. Before I wrote my screenplay, I had an idea of who they were but by the end of it, I knew them entirely. Then the dialogue will come easier.

Allen Roughton

Write them as best you can and then get women to read and give feedback. When you bring in new perspectives, especially those of the character you are trying to portray, you get a more authentic portrayal. Whenever we are looking for new writers in my writer's group, we always search for someone who has different life experience to all of us.

Nick Assunto - Stage 32 Script Services Coordinator

If it's an issue you struggle with, just go through a script you have with a strong male character already and ask yourself why that character can't be female. Thinking about it that way will probably put you in the headspace required. Clear goals, clear motivations, active choices -- those are what make characters work. The issue a lot of scripts face is that they objectify women, make them male focused, or make them blindly irrational. So just avoid doing stuff like that.

A good way to check is to look at all your character introductions and compare them to the male introductions. Are you discussing their appearance more then the men? Are you using typical phrases like "She's beautiful" "she's curvy" or "she's the pretty girl next door"? Are you specifying that they're blondes or brunettes for reasons that have absolutely no effect on the story itself? If so, you're probably thinking about their looks more than their traits.

Also, watch Pitch Perfect. One of the best comedies of the past decade. Strong female characters throughout, and genuinely just a fun movie. Maybe try to find the script, too.

Natalie Paton

Research! Talk to women you know, and women you don't. Engage in real life and online. Read articles to see how someone writes, interviews to see their body language and facial expressions. At the end of the day, try to connect to their struggles - even if their experience is directly connected to being a woman. Knowledge and empathy are all that's needed. And I suggest asking women to read your drafts, they can help guide you along the way.

Brian Shell

I'd watch Hidden Figures repeatedly. As a math nerd, I found it empowering.

Justine Wentzell

Spend some time reading blogs/books by females, surround yourself with different women, observe them and listen to them to get to know what matters to them and their different voices. Love that you’re taking the time to even think about this. Many don’t and just write shallow and stereotypical characters. When you’ve written anything, have a woman read it for a female perspective and voice. Good luck!

Bill Albert

Just be careful not to over due it. If you have to many characters with to many issues it can take away the drama. Two or three characters can give you the chance to go deeper into the subject.

Brian Shell

In watching Hidden Figures this morning, I see that they stand up for themselves, defend their inner boundaries, and maintain dignity amidst daunting circumstances.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Just think of the female as a male. There now you have enough.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

I treat females like male characters. I try to make them engaging. I don't overthink it.

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