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Author of queer, wry sci fi/fantasy books. On Amazon.
Editor of all fiction genres.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Writing Women, Part 2: Stand Alone Complex (Girlcember 5)

Hello hello!

Welcome back. So! How does all the gender/sexuality/identity stuff play into crafting a female character? Well, the basic point in my previous post is that a female character should not be built around or crippled by her vagina or her gender. (Or presumed vagina. Or whatever the species has that represents your character being sexually female.) This means that building your character solely around her romance with someone else is probably a bad idea.

Source. Fiona sees your shit, and she ain't having none of that.

Second, it also means that your character doesn't have to have physical limits. Boobs, hips, waists, and other things come in various shapes and sizes. You can have a flat-chested heroine who still identifies as female and likes pretty dresses. Boobs are not a requirement. As intimated above, a vagina isn't even really a requirement. They also don't represent a personality, or even magically grant one.

"But men and women are different!" I hear you cry. Well, yes, but in the ways people are different. If you're struggling with your female character, try making her male. Do her traits hold up, or do they seem silly? Does she cry and mope and whine a lot? Cling to other characters, especially men? Is everyone fine with this, or treat it as a normal thing for women to do? Conversely, does she go out of her way to do the opposite? If she does, she's probably a stereotype, and may not reflect reality very well.

How do I girl?

Think of your female characters as normal people. Believe it or not, even with the hormones and the terrifying complication of a vagina, there aren't actually many differences between women and men. They're mostly social. If they are rebelling against the standard gender roles of their world (which you might want to rethink, since it's a boring cliche to have wimmenz in the kitchen/hospital and menz in the battlefield/everywhere else), does their rebellion make sense? Consider Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. One of the things that works about her cliche character is that the rest of her personality lines up with her actions. She is cranky with her sister, conforms poorly to other norms, and pays the price for it.

Another important thing with creating women is making sure their behavior and ethos fit their period and setting. It's okay to have an obedient daughter if the situation calls for it; modern soap-box characters do not fit in historical settings, and are often jarring as hell. If you must have a woman with modern opinions in an anachronistic setting, there needs to be a price tag for those opinions. Do your research! It's fine to defy conventions, but it's also a good idea to abide by them when the situation is necessary. What are the social conventions of your world? How did you come up with them? (This may involve self-examination. I'll wait.)

See you next week!

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

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