The best way to do that is think of things that make any character intimidating and apply them to yours. The fact that she’s female really shouldn’t hinder that at all. Think of a character like Maleficent or Abaddon from Supernatural or Granny Goodness from the DC Universe. All of them are insanely intimidating for very different reasons. Find out what makes other characters intimidating and use those features to make your character terrifying.
Fiction doesn’t necessarily mean supernatural. Fiction is just any story you make up. It can be about anything as long as it isn’t based on a true story or a historic event. However, I understand the desire to write something non-realistic. One of the best things to do is ask yourself a lot of “what if” questions. What if this happened to this person? What if this as true about the world? What if this situation had ended differently? Another thing to do is look up prompts. There are tons of them everywhere. Find one you like and go for it. If it doesn’t work try again. If it does keep going! You could also try looking at your favorite genres, authors, themes, etc and try to do something like them. Don’t plagiarize of course, but try to emulate them. By getting a feel for how and what they write you can maybe come up with some ideas of your own.
Appearance & Health: Make them actually look their age. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a book where someone’s middle aged parents look like they are in their early 30’s and who have the health of someone in their mid 20’s. If your character is middle aged or older, try to give them accurate appearances and health (though that can vary widely).
Priorities: Depending on the time period and setting, most older people are settled. They may not worry about renovating parts of their house or saving up to buy something nice. They could be nearing the end of paying off their house or they might be looking into retirement communities (they are different from nursing homes, which seems to be a common misconception). Instead of worrying about work or promotions, they might worry about family members who are much older and who need constant care.
Knowledge: Again, this depends on time period and setting. What we know about the world, especially in terms of science, medicine, and technology, is changing and advancing daily. Most older people, if they are not involved in these fields, cannot keep up or do not care to keep up. What an older character knows about a particular subject (any subject, with the exception of historical events they lived through) might be outdated. Therefore, older characters are not always the most knowledgeable in a story. However, older people tend to have more knowledge of life experience.
Morals & Values: The morals and values of people change with each generation. Older characters might not have the same morals and values as younger characters.
Diversity: Older characters are just as diverse as young characters. There is no set way to write them. Some older people act a lot younger than they actually are and others do not.
Change: Older characters should still be dynamic in a story. People don’t stop changing. We are constantly learning and evolving.
Read: Read some memoirs about being middle aged or older, where your character is. Get some insight.
For back story, there’s a tag on the tags page for how to reveal that and how to write it.
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There are lots of examples of characters who are harsh or strict with most people and only softer with a few, or one.
The first one that came to mind for your scenario is Mulan and Aurora on Once Upon a Time. Mulan is Aurora’s guardian and protector and while sometimes firm with her is also very supportive and definitely softer with her, especially in comparison to how she treats others like Regina, Snow, and Emma when she first meets them.
What’s important to think about is what it is about the person who brings out your character’s softer side causes that. Is you character in love with that person? Does that person challenge them to be better? Does that person need them for protection, comfort, sympathy — or vice versa? What makes your character strict and up-tight in general, and what about that one person softens them? If you can get to the root of these issues, it should help you connect your character’s behaviour to the other people they encounter.
Hope this helps!
When you’re starting out with character descriptions, no (meaning in your first few months and/or years of writing). There’s not really anything wrong with having a specific individual in mind and basing your characters’ appearance off them.
As you write more and develop characters more, work towards seeing them as individuals with looks that are unique to them, and not tied to a specific, existing, well-known person. You can start small with adjusting eye or hair color, then move on to body type and height, face shape, defining features, even gender.
Hope this helps!
One thing to consider is how much you’re writing. If you only write once in a while then maybe you’re just out of practice. A simple solution is to resolve to write more. Maybe set a side a few hours a day to write just for fun. Another possibility is that you’re just used to your own writing and it doesn’t sound as fresh to you. A solution for this is to read some of your old writing and try to remember what made it sound fun or new. Once you find the “secret ingredient,” so to speak, try to emulate that in your new writing.
Try this recent article about starting a new writing project.
Hope this helps!
Some more responses to the age gap question, presented without comment:
@kinthinia said: Tamora Pierce’s series Wild Mage features a budding romance between two main characters. She’s about sixteen and he’s about thirty-two. It depends how you play it out.
@taladeryn said: Been in a relationship with that kind of age gap for 15 years (it started when I was 16). You wouldn’t even know it now, and we didn’t then. It was mainly an issue with my parents before I was 18 (for reasons I believe are obvious).
@ahopebeyondmyown said: Also keep in mind their culture in the world you’re writing and how they would view it. Personally, I don’t think it’s a problem.
@dwell-ondreams said: I don’t consider 3 or 4 years to be a significant age gap.
@idneeded said: (hahahaha I’m 19 in a relationship with a guy who is 23 that’s kind of a normal relationship gap.)
@airyulevelsup said: Lol, my parents were 11 years apart. 3-4 years is really nothing.
@blazingcobaltx said: As long as the relationship is consensual, mature and healthy no age gap is too big
@hannibalsbutchery said: As long as they’re both over 18, you’re good
@zollercoaster said: Those aren’t large age gaps at all.
@cyonapie said: Given the genders, you’ll want to be careful that the guys aren’t acting as if they know better/are more experienced than the girls. Age within that range is a number, not the end-all argument of maturity/experience/etc… You should be fine.
@jamaisplus said: I’ve written much larger age gaps! Just make sure they’re on the same level - i.e., the younger girl is more mature for her age, the guy is maybe a little immature, etc. Unless you’re writing specifically to show a skewed balance in the couple (:
(But remember, when it comes to research, Google is your friend — and most of the time you can search and find results just as easily as we can. So while we appreciate the love, please don’t rely on us for research you can do yourself. Still, we’re happy to help with finding something you can’t find, and advising on the more subjective, in-depth, and downright tricky parts of writing that aren’t as ‘researchable.’)
I would only add that maturity and life experiences do come into play (as was said in the original response). You can have all the love in the world, but if the timing isn’t right for the pair in their emotional/mental development, it can work as a relationship for a time, but not necessarily go long term. Relationships with large age gaps can and do work, but they usually take more work — especially in communication and understanding of yourself and your partner — than relationships with smaller age gaps.
I’ve finally built up a nice series of essays on writing asexuality and asexual characters in fiction. Here they are, all together in one place. They’re intended to be useful for asexual and non-asexual writers alike. They are also meant to be inclusive of gray-asexual and…
I wouldn’t say they’re too large. The important thing is you keep in mind what comes with those age differences. Does the age make them more mature, or less? Are they limited by what they can do because of the age difference? Etc.