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Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


Very interesting (and long) article about how to write women in fantasy so they actually come alive.

That's a topic that's dear to my heart. Being a woman myself, I love seeing strong female characters and NPCs. And fantasy makes it easy.

]Writing Women Characters as Human Beings

What do you think?

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Re: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


I have to admit when I clicked the link I was expecting a bit of a feminist rant, but was pleasantly surprised emoticon

As a guy I can find writing about girls hard, let's face it:
Guys don't understand girls and why should we try? Girls understand girls and hate each other.

But all joking aside I found this article made many great points about what to think about to make a believable world. I myself am guilty of being a male-heavy author, from the minor once-off characters pretty much all being male, to writing almost exclusively from the guys perspective in what I think of as a two male two female ensemble cast.

I'm going home to re-write some scenes from different character perspectives to see how they turn out.

Last edited by thepinksuicidallemming, 3/12/2015, 3:50 am


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Re: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


It's good to see you, Pink!

Do you feel like sharing those scenes in both versions? It would be cool to see what you did with them.

 emoticon

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Re: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


I'm always kind of mystified when I hear people say they have trouble writing women. We are just people, not aliens.

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Re: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


Exactly! emoticon

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Re: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


I've really only written one longer story (and it's greatly unfinished as it's middle part of trilogy and I've barely started the others... and I've worked on it very randomly starting 1998 - it's an eternity project).
Looking back at it, while I've been happy with my female characters, I now realize there aren't that many. Maybe 80% of my characters are men.
OK, it's medieval (D&D type) fantasy. With kings and knights etc. it's logical most persons of power are male. Nevertheless, having enough women seems to be my weakness. And also I tend to put them as part of man-woman pair/team, or MMF trio.
Then again, as I lean more to the action side of fantasy/scifi, it's kind of understandable soldiers etc. are mostly male.

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Re: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


Well, in fantasy, we can have fun. emoticon It can be medieval, but also different.

Is there anything that would inspire you to write more?

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I tend to be too good in wasting time to be able to write anything these days... emoticon

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Re: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


Usually I'll say to myself "Brian you should write something today" and half the time I do, the other half of the time is where I struggle to think of ideas! emoticon
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I sometimes need to sit with my characters and "chat" with them (yeah, it really sounds weird, but I talk with them in my mind, or sense them, or something) before I can write. And that's when the ideas come.

Alternatively, I read the last bit I wrote, edit a little, and then write one more sentence. And then another one. And before I know it, I'm back in the story.

It is really worth it to push through that initial reluctance.

 emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Re: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


I have troubles curbing the desire to dwell on a scene too much at times when it comes to my women characters. I am a guy and to me, the female form is utterly fascinating which leads to times when my female characters have to slap me or remind me to keep my eyes "properly focused." It is important to listen to those reminders since what I write is also what others will read and see in their minds. Am I weird or is this normal for both genders?

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I'm not sure. It's possible that women are less fascinated by the male form than vice versa - but I can honestly just speak for myself.

While I like looking at a hunk, it doesn't dominate my thought patterns. In fact, I can find a horse almost equally attractive for my attention. Maybe I'm the weird one?

 emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Re: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


Aren't men more visual than women? Or do I have that wrong?






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I'd say that along with almost everything about humans, "being visual" is a scale.

Of course, we are a visual species, so we all pay a lot of attention to what's going on around us.

What exactly do you mean with "being visual"?

I notice almost everything going on around me, both seeing things and hearing things. That's part of being a highly sensitive person. I also have good recall for faces, less so for names. I can recognize some people even years later. I can also usually tell people where I have seen their keys last... because I notice these things even in someone else's apartment. I notice eagles in the sky. I notice little birds in the bushes. I definitely notice movement.

I think that's "being visual", but I'm not visual to the exclusion of all other senses.

I'm also not necessarily very attracted by the male physique, or a specific version of it.

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Re: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings


Maybe I meant imaginative? Men prefer to use their imaginations?








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I don't know. Years ago I would have said women never thought about men while men always thought about women. My reasoning was very basic. Men were expected to be the one to initiate contact and even pay for that contact in some way. Women took the position in my mind as people who didn't even think about contact until a man suggested it.

I admit I was dumb and naive back then and it was a major shock to discover my major error in assumptions based on how dating worked in my part of the world.

As a man, I think maybe men think more about the touching aspects of a relationship while women think more about the being touched aspects of the relationship.

I am probably wrong on that as well but I think maybe I am closer to being correct now than I was as a young adult.

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My Dad always told me to wear a bra and keep covered, because men prefer to use their imaginations, instead of having it all hang out there. emoticon







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I think your Dad was half right. As a teenager, my imagination was always centered around "what is she hiding" when looking at girls I didn't know and fantasizing about being with them. I never had those types of thoughts when dealing with a person I knew for some reason.

Thinking back, I think I was more attracted to girls who seemed like they comfortable in their choice of dress, they struck me as "normal people". The girls who obviously showed off or who made a point of making sure everything was covered turned me off. The first because I was actually a lot on the timid side when trying to meet a girl and the latter because I took such clothing extremes as a signal from the girl to "stay away from me."

Now, I try to consider all aspects of a person, especially when attempting to see the emotional side of things but it is difficult. Take the bra thing as an example. As a man, I don't ever have to consider or think about what I am suggesting or advertising if I take my shirt off. Women have to think of all those things and how they will respond when men act on what they see, or don't see, in some way. Those things are totally foreign to my own way of thinking about things from a clothing choice. Then I wonder, do those considerations that a woman has to make affect her in some way concerning other choices or conscious decisions? If so then how do I reflect such things when writing from her point of view without sounding like a dork?

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It's interesting to read all this, because it seems that Germany has a different culture.

Of course, I can only talk about my experiences, but here, I'm much less focused on what men could think of me or even do to me.

Yes, I'm careful. There are places I don't go at night.

But... I've never been catcalled. I've been whistled after ONCE in my entire life. I've not seen another woman get catcalled or whistled at. Germans just don't seem to do this a lot.

And then there's this:

I don't wear a bra, even though I'm big. I was told to wear one because my nippels were showing - well, wearing a bra doesn't make a difference at all, which I found out when I did wear one for a couple of years until I broke my collar bone and just couldn't. *sigh* I can't stop this, it's just how my body is.

So I decided I might as well be able to breathe right. The weather is cold enough most of the year that I can't just wear a t-shirt anyway. I've not had any trouble with that at work. I've not been catcalled. (I do wear a sports bra when necessary, for my own protection.)

So maybe in my culture, women are a lot less objectified than in the US. Maybe here, we women are closer to being "people". I don't know, because there still is inequality in pay and job situations. But in general, I don't worry a lot about what "men" might think about me. My normal way of interacting is treating them as people, rather than predators.

 emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PK did that to me once! The whistling thing that is. It happened back when we were still in the "it's just a date" stage of our relationship. emoticon

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I don't really like this bit:
quote:

Someone was talking to him! Darrel brought his mind back to the present to see a girl in the sleeveless ruby red and gold uniform worn by the cafe’s bartenders. The cut of her uniforms neckline was just low enough to confirm she was female without inviting further inspection.

I have NEVER been in a bar so I have zero life experience to draw on. The scene has the woman working at a very high-class bar area as a bartender and the man is grieving over the loss of his wife. The design of the bar is such that a person's normal eye level would say a man would be looking at the chest area of the bartenders first and would need to look up just a little to see the bartenders face. I am searching for a way to describe what he sees without it sounding like the woman is a mannequin...

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Well, if the character is the type who looks at a woman's "parts" first, then that is how you have to write him. emoticon Otherwise you'll just have to get into his head to see where his eyes go to first.


I had a teacher who refused to dance at public dances. She said she didn't want to cause other men to lust after her and sin in their thoughts. (And she wouldn't be considered a gorgeous woman. But as they say, "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder," and some men don't really care about looks anyways. It's more a power trip.)

We tried to convince her that if she was dancing with her husband, and wasn't trying to get the attention of other men, she isn't responsible and should just have fun with her husband and let the rest go. But, she refused to listen to us. To me, that is taking away from her husband's enjoyment of having a fun time with his wife. emoticon I guess it's a fine line, and I can't help but wonder why it would be her fault what other men think when she's dancing with her husband, and focused only on him. Why does her husband have to pay the price for the thoughts of other men? How would God punish her for that? Or, I guess she's worried about the other men's souls, knowing that hers is preserved either way. emoticon


But there's food for thought for you PR on the thoughts that go through some women's minds.


 ... ... ... ... ...


I read somewhere that Spanish/Mexican women are more sexual in their style of clothes and they flirt more openly. In their culture this isn't a sign they're open to sex, or to be harassed. And that it's when they're in the US, or around US men, that they have problems with men getting the wrong idea.

It would be nice if a woman could dress as she wished, and could flirt for fun, without men getting the wrong idea and taking it further than the woman intended. But that probably isn't going to happen.

I've also read that US women get harassed in other countries because we're all considered to be loose and sexually ready at all times.

A lot of men just need to learn not to touch until they've been given permission. Well, and a lot of women now too. Some women are using 'Fair Play' as their motto and running with it. I've read where male actors have had to pull women's hands out of their underwear! Good Grief! When will this craziness stop?






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He isn't that kind of guy. I see him just sitting there with a kinda dazed look on his face, trying to cope with watching his wife die, eating peanuts and staring at nothing until she speaks.

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I changed the scene to this:

-------

“Hello, May I help you?” Someone was talking to him! Darrel brought his mind back to the present to see a woman in the sleeveless ruby red and gold uniform worn by the cafe’s bartenders. The uniform appeared to be tailored for her, snugly form-fitting in all the right places, leaving no question she was a woman, yet loose enough to provide total freedom of movement. Her neckline was modest, enticing without suggesting or inviting further inspection. He looked up to the woman’s face and was startled by her bright smile and large amber colored eyes. She looked familiar but he couldn’t recall where they had met.

-------

Better, I think???

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Yes, much better. emoticon

Would he compare her to his wife?

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You mean like identify Brandy to Penny? I don't think so. Penny was taller and her facial features were softer. Brandy is more petite and even without her change of eye color, the eyes don't look the same. She does share a mischievous and fun personality but Penny was more playful by nature.

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The differences might make the absence of his wife more noticeable to him, just a thought, you know your character and what he would be thinking the best.

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The waitress could have one feature or personality trait that takes his thoughts back to his wife ... his longing for her ... his pain in losing her. emoticon


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quote:

quote:


Joxcenia wrote:

 ... hmm ... Maybe you should hang out with a group of women sometime, and just listen to them talk. Or sit close to a group of women/girls and eavesdrop.



Joxcenia wrote:

Another thing ... women are just as diverse as men. You have butch/masculine women, dainty/feminine women, and everything inbetween, so you really have to trust you know your female characters well enough to know just how they would handle a situation. How did they grow up? Were they babied? bullied? raised as tomboys by their dads? What situations did they get into growing up, and how did they get into and out of them?

My mother had two brothers, she was NO push over. She could fight just as well as any of the boys. Nothing 'girlie' about her. I had a nephew who couldn't believe a girl could be tough, and he'd wrestle with Mom to see if all the stories were true. He never ever managed to beat her. He loved to brag about how tough his Aunt was.



Use other works/sources for reference, such as: "Dirty Dancing." Take a close look at the sisters, at how different they are. The screenwriter originally was writing a story of two sisters ... one raised to be beautiful, and the other raised to be smart. (Baby took over the story and changed it completely.)

Search the history books for women throughout times of wars and peace, and see how they acted/reacted to the various situations in their lives. Read nonfiction books about women during WWI & WWII. I have a couple of nonfiction books on women spies during the wars. They're very eye opening.






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This guy's videos might be helpful:

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