I assumed that if I ever wrote fiction I’d be sure to create amazing heroines with agency and heart thumping storylines of their own.
Many of the characters came to me quickly, their voices and personalities taking shape as soon as I put fingers to keyboard. At the time I was pretty pleased with myself. There’s something incredibly nice when it feels like a story is already inside you and is just waiting to be written. People talk of tapping into the subconscious and letting ideas flow… But what if my subconscious was a lazy ass?
The real problem, then, wasn’t solely to do with having too many male characters. It was more that I’d thoughtlessly reproduced the characters of other people’s fictions, rather than creating them from scratch based on my own actual lived experience or imagination.
Going back to my plan, I started seeing what it felt like to swap each character’s gender and how that affected the story. Women fighting, women doing dangerous things… It all got more exciting as if I was breaking apart all these preconceived notions and coming up with something new.
I’m not arguing that all stories must feature half men, half women. More that we should question the ideas we are fed by mainstream media which we inevitably internalise over the years.