I know I tend to read women authors these days, and that's on purpose, but I grew up reading far more books by men. I wouldn't say more authors, just more books. King, Clancy and Cussler were my go-tos. Of course, Anne Rice and Anne McCaffrey were big back then too and I read all the Vampire Chronicles and the Rowan series. While literature in general does have a reputation for taking their female characters for granted, some have been worse than others. And some have been great. Over the years, I have read some great female characters that were written by men. They weren't perfect, but they're my favorite for a variety of reasons that do include that they could be actual women instead of that weird version of women that has been prevalent in literature and media. Some get through the cracks.
Here are my top 3 favorite female characters that were written by men.
- Petra Arkanian (and Virlomi) from The Ender's Shadow Series Box Set - Orson Scott Card
- Tally Youngblood from The Uglies Trilogy - Scott Westerfeld
- Rose Daniels from Rose Madder - Stephen King
While I haven't read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, I have heard that he is wonderful at writing women. I know, just from watching the show, that the women in it are varied, deal with their circumstances in different ways but that make good sense for their character types, and have varying amounts of strength as well as different ways of expressing strength and weakness and tenderness, much like real women.
Also, King writes lots of great women, I think. Rose is the one that has stood out the most in my memory. I read that book as a teenager and still remember parts of her personality and reasoning for some decisions. I'm not sure why she's stuck out so much among all the other characters, but she has. The woman in Gerald's Game was interesting, too. I'm sure the details are jumbled in my memory with other things from other places, but Gerald's Game was one of those stories that was scary because it could happen to anyone. No supernatural elements there, just people who weren't being their best selves and harming others. It still gives me a shiver to think of, but I don't remember the woman sticking out quite as much as the surrounding circumstances, so I didn't want to include her. OSC also writes great women, like all the women from the Ender's Game series, except maybe Valentine. She was too perfect, but it could have been the way her brother sees her and therefore treats her. Not sure. But seriously, I didn't even realize the Uglies series wasn't written by a woman, particularly given such a great female protagonist. It was my own ignorance at the time to assume such a thing based on the quality and choice of a female protagonist. I'm working on it, but the point is that she was a great female character as well as a great protagonist.