Writing Strong Female Characters - Mo Fanning Author %
Creating characters as a writer

Writing Strong Female Characters

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In the world of romantic comedies, it’s essential to create characters readers want to spend time with. As a big, hairy bloke writing romance novels, one of the most significant challenges and responsibilities I face is creating strong, relatable female characters.

Rebuilding Alexandra Small” dives deep into the lives of several women as they navigate love, friendship, and personal growth.


With any story, my writing journey begins with research. For “Rebuilding Alexandra Small“, I sought inspiration from friends, family, and spent a fair bit of time sitting on Brighton buses, earwigging conversations – but not in a stalkerly way. Lots of so-called academics dismiss romance novels as ‘fluff’ – the ‘chicklit’ label did untold damage by lumping (mostly female) authors together in one big pink bubble not to be taken seriously. Romance is more than this. The characters on our pages have a unique blend of strengths, weaknesses, dreams, and fears … just like any real person.

Alexandra Small is a high-flying professional who has battled addiction and is now six years sober. Her journey showcases her resilience and determination She’s far from being a stereotype or one-dimensional figure.

Research and empathy played a significant role in crafting my characters, particularly Allie, the main protagonist of “Rebuilding Alexandra Small.” I had to dig deep to understand her journey through sobriety, love and betrayal. I read personal accounts, attended support group meetings, and sought out women willing to share their stories. By connecting with their experiences, I felt myself able to bring Allie to life as a genuine, relatable character.

Emotional support

Developing strong female friendships, like the bond between Allie and Izzy, was another essential aspect of the novel. These relationships provide emotional support and allow me to delve into the broader themes of sisterhood, loyalty, and resilience.

Not that any of my characters are angels – they have flaws and face challenges. All too often, romantic comedies – especially those churned out by Hollywood – portray women as with ditzy or overly idealised, which makes it difficult to connect with them on a deeper level. In “Rebuilding Alexandra Small,” each character has her own set of struggles and imperfections. They make their own decisions and actively influence the story’s outcome.

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Allie’s journey through sobriety, her romantic relationships, and her eventual self-discovery highlight resilience and strength. Freya, the ambitious journalist, grapples with the ethical implications of her actions as she pursues the truth. And Megan, the daytime TV queen, must learn to balance her public persona with her private life.

Writing strong, relatable female characters in a romantic comedy novel is an ongoing process of empathy, research, and creativity. As a male author, it’s my responsibility to ensure these characters are authentic, engaging, and true to the experiences of the women who inspire them. By doing so, I hope to create a romance novel that transcends the genre’s clichés and offers a genuine exploration of love, friendship, and personal growth.

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By Mo Fanning

Mo Fanning is a British author of dark romantic comedies including the Book of the Year nominated bestseller 'The Armchair Bride', 'Rebuilding Alexandra Small' and 2022's hit holiday romcom 'Ghosted'.

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