How Not To Write Female Characters by Lucy V. Hay – Review

I’m bringing you something a bit different today as I’ll be reviewing a short how to book. Big thanks to Lucy and Rachel from Rachels Random Resources for providing me with a copy of the book and inviting me to be a part of this tour!


Female characters. When fifty per cent of your potential target audience is female, if you’re not writing them in your screenplay or novel? You’re making a BIG mistake!

But how should you approach your female characters? That’s the million-dollar question … After all, women in real life are complex, varied and flawed. Knowing where to start in creating three dimensional female characters for your story is extremely difficult.

So … perhaps it’s easier to figure out how NOT to write female characters?

Script editor, novelist and owner of the UK’s top screenwriting blog, Lucy V Hay has spent the last fifteen years reading the slush pile. She has learned to spot the patterns, pitfalls and general mistakes writers make when writing female characters – and why.

In How Not To Write Female Characters, Lucy outlines:

•WHO your character is & how to avoid “classic” traps and pitfalls
•WHAT mistakes writers typically make with female characters
•WHERE you can find great female characters in produced and published content
•WHEN to let go of gender politics and agendas
•WHY female characters are more important than ever

Lucy is on a mission to improve your writing, as well as enable diverse voices and characters to rise to the top of the spec pile.

How Not To Write Female Characters by Lucy V. Hay


I am new to Lucy’s work, so this is the first of her advice I’ve ever read. Whilst covering a lot of bases, this book keeps all the points short and sweet instead of drowning you in information, which I loved. I feel it can be too easy to run away with these sorts of publications and overload the reader with mega dos and don’ts lists, whereas this book gives a brief run down of the main types of female character out there, along with suggestions on what to avoid and how to create more rounded characters.

As a writer myself, I have found some of the tips very helpful and will be looking back over my current projects with a new eye in regards to my female characters. It was so refreshing to read a more up to date writing advice book, also. I’ve glanced through some old favourites in the past, such as Stephen Kings ‘On Writing’, but with Lucy having written this so much more recently, it has more up to date references. It acknowledges, and offers advice on, the kind of brutal feedback a writer can receive via social media, Twitter in particular. As we know, people will say exactly what they think on social media, and as an author who’s put their work out there, it can be easy to get weighed down by the negative comments that come to the surface. Seeing this subject broached within writing advice is very refreshing.

Praise for Lucy V. Hays Writing Advice

‘A timely guide to creating original characters and reinvigorating tired storylines. ‘
– Debbie Moon, creator and showrunner, Wolfblood (BBC)

‘Lucy V. Hay nails it’
– Stephen Volk, BAFTA-winning screenwriter: Ghostwatch, Afterlife, The Awakening

‘Packed with practical and inspirational insights’
– Karol Griffiths, development consultant and script editor, clients include ITV, BBC, Warner Brothers

‘A top-notch, cutting-edge guide to writing and selling, not just practical but inspirational. Lucy’s distinctive voice infuses the entire journey. Quite brilliant. Here’s the woman who’ll help you make things happen.’
– Barbara Machin, award-winning writer & creator of Waking the Dead

‘Delivers the stirring call to arms that writers must not only write, but take their work to the next level themselves, making sacrifices and taking risks if they want to see their stories on screen.’
– Chris Jones, Filmmaker, Screenwriter & Creative Director at the London Screenwriters Festival

‘Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays is a must-read for any writer, producer or director looking to create (or in the process of creating) a thriller production. It could also be immensely useful for those generally curious about the genre or looking to learn more.’ – Film Doctor

‘Lucy V Hay explains what a script reader and editor’s role in filmmaking, tells you to work on your concepts and that dialogue is the last thing to work on in her new book.’ – Brit Flicks

About The Author

How Not - hands in the air, looking up
Lucy V. Hay is an author, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2015), as well as the script editor and advisor on numerous other features and shorts.  Lucy’s also the author of  WRITING AND SELLING THRILLER SCREENPLAYS for Kamera Books’ “Creative Essentials” range, as well as its follow ups on DRAMA SCREENPLAYS and DIVERSE CHARACTERS.

Social Media

Instagram – @Bang2write
Twitter – @Bang2write
Facebook – @Bang2writers

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