Hi, my name is E.J. Lace and I write strong female leads.
I would like to go ahead and preface this with, I have never given advice or written for a blog so please bear with me.
I tried to make it less like a class I was somehow teaching and more like a slideshow of how my brain works so you can hop on to this train of thought, come along with me at each stop on how I make the characters I do. But after writing and then deleting it for the thirty-eighth time, I just have to trust the process. Fingers crossed.
I don’t think I can start this without saying that when I first started writing I asked myself a lot of why’s.
(And what ifs. That’s natural and I still face it with every chapter.)
Why do I write for strong females?
Because I adore them. As a reader and a writer. I love something realistic and something I can relate to. Like most of the females I know their personal strength comes in different shades.
So why is it that if we see a strong female it’s nine times outta ten cut down to a dirty tomboy that fixes cars, drinks beer, and has no friends? Or some variation of it. The one where she’s transformed into a girly girl for the night and is somehow crowned homecoming queen by the entire school or she’s demoted to side character who helps the main star do the bare minimum with some kind of joke for comic relief.
Why am I tired of that? Because it’s repetitive nonsense.
Why is it important to me? Real life isn’t easy. And as a girl I wish I was told that I didn’t have to fit the mold. I stayed unhappy for so long instead of telling the mold to take a hike and do my own thing. I write the characters I do so anyone that’s reading and can relate knows that they are not alone nor will they ever be. It is also why I tackle some heavier scenes and topics. I never want anyone to feel truly alone.
Alright, now on to how.
This is where I would normally start to doubt what exactly I needed to say, or should say.
When I see inspiration for my stories, it’s like a movie going off in my head for a specific scene that only I can see. Mixing and mingling with outside sources like music and movies I end up with characters like Marcella Sinclair and Savannah Madis.
When I read, I see the same type of character like I’ve said before. It is within those feelings of love for the story and what I wish this character would do as a fan that I create the characters I do.
Think about the last book you threw across the room because of how it ended.
Those feelings of “WHY!? JUST WHY?!” live within me as a reader.
For me, I vividly remember reading Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak series, finishing the end to number twelve and slapping it across my high school bedroom.
WHY?! JUST WHY?! WHY?! WHY DARREN!?
Sorry, I still get a little worked up about that one.
For instance, Marcella Sinclair [of Secrets of Sin]is a gentle and kind soul. She stress bakes bear-shaped cupcakes at times and always remembers to write her thank-you notes. She crafted an entire bread basket for a boy her brother got snippy with while holding her foot down on the fact she would NOT stand for his mistreatment when it was uncalled for and unearned.
Marcella Sinclair is kind, compassionate, and extremely empathetic. Some would say maybe “too nice” but she is also the Angle of Sin. She is kind, loving and adoring to her family and friends, but not at the cost of her sexualty.
Secrets of Sin, I wrote as a way to show you can be inherently good, and a lot of the time, blindly innocent, and still be the sexy show-stopping stripper who is booked weeks and weeks out in advance, who brings home the bacon, all while finding out the guy that’s been her brother’s best friend her entire life feels amazing when he uses all those beast-like talents.
As a reader, when I would come across a character in the realm of Marcella Sinclair, I would scream into the pages at how the female lead would become a doormat everytime she got the chance and never stood up for herself. So, taking those feelings with me I wrote a strong female lead who’s an empathetic, warm-hearted soul who doesn’t sacrifice herself for one side over the other. For other people’s wishes. She stands tall in her wants, needs, and damn sure her desires.
Following that thought process, Savannah Madis was born.
If you have read At the End of the World (highly recommend) you will see the transition within her. At the start you find her in a shell. Devastated by a tragedy that totaled her world. But, as the story goes on, you see the change. The breath of life being pushed back into her fiery lungs. Not because someone gave it to her, no. Not our Savannah. You see her growth. You feel how she opened up to Damon, to this new world she is so smitten with. You will also see how growth is not a one size fits all or a straight climb.
This is what I’m saying, as a reader who grew sick and tired of being disappointed by what was out there, I put SOMETHING else out there. Something I would want to read, something I love doing. I completely and wholeheartedly adore it.
Characters that are realistic and relatable. Characters that don’t sacrifice half of themselves for the sake of another.
Strong females aren’t one shade. All the things that make Marcella Sinclair strong, are not the same as what makes Savannah Madis strong.
But make no mistake, both of them are.
What I hope you take away from this is, strength isn’t something that is because of a lack of something else.
You don’t have to be a tomboy to be strong.
You don’t have to fit a mold.
You do not have to sacrifice your soft traits in order to be seen as strong.
You can win a war in a dress.
A sword is a sword no matter the color. Even if it’s pink or stained in the blood of your enemies.