Female Characters

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
User avatar
medussa74
Posts: 38
Joined: April 17th, 2011, 2:26 am
Location: Washington
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by medussa74 » June 8th, 2011, 10:30 pm

mudpuppy wrote:
medussa74 wrote:Really? I'm always paranoid about my male characters being too one-dimensional.

My males characters are always flawed and funny, females are the opposite. Why is that? I have no idea, I guess I'm just odd. :geek:
You probably aren't. Let's face it, male characters dominate much of literature. Up until more recently, you might chalk that up to society being male-dominated. I mean, Mary Shelley's book probably wouldn't have been taken as seriously in that time period if her main character was Victoria Frankenstein (though that would make an awesome spoof...filing it away for later). But why would JK Rowling create Harry Potter, and not Harriet Potter? I seriously doubt this was some calculated scheme on her part; I'm sure this is just how she saw her character.

I know you mean characters in general, and not the protagonist, but I point these examples out merely to show that a lot of authors seem to have a preference for their male characters.

mudpuppy
Posts: 131
Joined: December 18th, 2010, 2:13 pm
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by mudpuppy » June 8th, 2011, 10:35 pm

Well, what flaws would some of you suggest for a character in general? My book is for children so nothing too inappropriate.

User avatar
Watcher55
Posts: 741
Joined: November 27th, 2010, 8:25 am
Location: Plantser-ville
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by Watcher55 » June 8th, 2011, 11:20 pm

mudpuppy wrote:Well, what flaws would some of you suggest for a character in general? My book is for children so nothing too inappropriate.
The bad gift-giver – “I know you like dogs dear, so I got you this bone.”
The constantly late scheduler
Vanity surrounding a beauty mark that looks more like a wart (or even a beauty mark that’s actually a beauty mark).
Overly competitive – “My day was much worse/better”

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by polymath » June 8th, 2011, 11:29 pm

Turkey City Lexicon lists Funny-Hat Characterization as a vice of writing. A character who has a single identifying tag such as a funny hat, and the funny hat is solely for the purpose of identifying a character. Real world people do wear funny hats. More often that not, they don't think they're funny hats, unless they wear them for context appropriate occasions. Personality and behavior trait quirks are the same.

Writers ought best keep readers from disruption, keep them engaged in the participation mystique of a narrative. Quirky characterization is more apt to do the opposite. And worse, readers who self-identify with any of a narrative's central characters might find a funny hat guy one a turn off. He's not them no more. He or she's an embarrassing stranger with whom they won't want to personally associate or self-identify.

Questions to ask of a characterizing characteristic: How will it make readers feel? Will it turn them off? Will they find it endearing? Is it intended to demonize a villain? Intended to show a protagonist's empathy? Is it just quirky for identifying tag purposes or is it for versimilitude or is it a prepositioned (foreshadowed) characteristic? Does it have thematic relevance? For that matter Setting, Plot, Idea, Character, Event, and Discourse relevance? SPICED.

Things to keep in mind are whether it's a credible quirk, whether it's something the character has control over or is oblivious to, whether it characterizes the funny hat guy only or whether it also characterizes a narrator and other characters who observe and express commentary about funny hat guy. Whether it symbolizes an intangible. Whether it's subject to change or transformation.
Spread the love of written word.

User avatar
medussa74
Posts: 38
Joined: April 17th, 2011, 2:26 am
Location: Washington
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by medussa74 » June 9th, 2011, 12:21 am

mudpuppy wrote:Well, what flaws would some of you suggest for a character in general? My book is for children so nothing too inappropriate.
Well...what flaws are you using for your male characters? Why couldn't you use those same flaws for your female characters?

User avatar
medussa74
Posts: 38
Joined: April 17th, 2011, 2:26 am
Location: Washington
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by medussa74 » June 9th, 2011, 12:28 am

Watcher55 wrote:
mudpuppy wrote:Well, what flaws would some of you suggest for a character in general? My book is for children so nothing too inappropriate.
The bad gift-giver – “I know you like dogs dear, so I got you this bone.”
The constantly late scheduler
Vanity surrounding a beauty mark that looks more like a wart (or even a beauty mark that’s actually a beauty mark).
Overly competitive – “My day was much worse/better”
I'm lovin' the bad gift-giver idea...that is a flaw that can go a long comedic way.

User avatar
Watcher55
Posts: 741
Joined: November 27th, 2010, 8:25 am
Location: Plantser-ville
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by Watcher55 » June 9th, 2011, 12:35 am

medussa74 wrote:
Watcher55 wrote:
mudpuppy wrote:Well, what flaws would some of you suggest for a character in general? My book is for children so nothing too inappropriate.
The bad gift-giver – “I know you like dogs dear, so I got you this bone.”
The constantly late scheduler
Vanity surrounding a beauty mark that looks more like a wart (or even a beauty mark that’s actually a beauty mark).
Overly competitive – “My day was much worse/better”
I'm lovin' the bad gift-giver idea...that is a flaw that can go a long comedic way.
:) Actually based on someone I know (it wouldn't do for me to develop this one).

User avatar
medussa74
Posts: 38
Joined: April 17th, 2011, 2:26 am
Location: Washington
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by medussa74 » June 9th, 2011, 12:52 am

Watcher55 wrote:
medussa74 wrote:
Watcher55 wrote: The bad gift-giver – “I know you like dogs dear, so I got you this bone.”
The constantly late scheduler
Vanity surrounding a beauty mark that looks more like a wart (or even a beauty mark that’s actually a beauty mark).
Overly competitive – “My day was much worse/better”
I'm lovin' the bad gift-giver idea...that is a flaw that can go a long comedic way.
:) Actually based on someone I know (it wouldn't do for me to develop this one).
I think we all have run into this person at one time another.

Oh!! Inspiration! What if the bad gift giver actually gave gifts that turned out to be quite useful? Imagine how different a Christmas Story would be if Ralphie's pink bunny costume made him invincible.

User avatar
Cookie
Posts: 540
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:18 am
Location: Berkshires
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by Cookie » June 9th, 2011, 8:55 am

Watcher55 wrote: The constantly late scheduler
You just gave me an idea for one of my flat characters that just so happen to be female! I think it will be quite interesting to make her consistently late considering she is the sovereign.

I don't think I have a hard time writing either gender. *I think*. It's more of a character to character basis. I have both male and female characters that need to be worked on. Maybe I'm slightly better at males. In the first draft they were better rounded than some of the females (with the exception of the protagonist who was as flat as freshly paved tarmac).

User avatar
Cookie
Posts: 540
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:18 am
Location: Berkshires
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by Cookie » June 9th, 2011, 8:57 am

medussa74 wrote:[

Oh!! Inspiration! What if the bad gift giver actually gave gifts that turned out to be quite useful? Imagine how different a Christmas Story would be if Ralphie's pink bunny costume made him invincible.
Oh god, that would have been awesome!

User avatar
Rebecca Kiel
Posts: 30
Joined: April 29th, 2011, 11:28 am
Location: Midwest
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by Rebecca Kiel » June 9th, 2011, 11:50 am

I would spend time thinking about what motivates women. Develop more history for your female characters so you have a sense of from where they come. What do they want out of life, what are their hang ups, what are their relationships like?

Rebecca

Http://rebeccakielpages.blogspot.com

User avatar
sierramcconnell
Posts: 670
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 10:28 pm
Location: BG, KY
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by sierramcconnell » June 9th, 2011, 12:01 pm

Rebecca Kiel wrote:I would spend time thinking about what motivates women. Develop more history for your female characters so you have a sense of from where they come. What do they want out of life, what are their hang ups, what are their relationships like?
The problem with that is then they seem less like a woman and more like just another guy. :lol:

I was never around a lot of girls, and the ones I was (my sister, mother, and few friends) kind of turned me off to women in general. They seemed so petty and ridiculous. Totally disinteresting. Whereas guys were always fun to be with no matter the age.
I'm on Tumblr!

The blog died...but so did I...and now I'm alive again! OMG.

Margo
Posts: 1712
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by Margo » June 9th, 2011, 12:16 pm

There's a LOT that can go into creating a character. I'm usually not in favor of the idea that we just need to assign one quirky flaw or a catch phrase or a funny hat (yay for the the Turkey City Lexicon! woot, polymath!) and *presto* the flat character has depth. Because what real impact do these little quick fixes have on the character who's coming off flat? A flat piece of cardboard that we spruce up by painting it red is now a red flat piece of cardboard.

What does the character want? Why? And is it a run-to or run-from goal? Is their motivation to gain something or avoid something? And always always always, what are the character's greatest fears and dearest wishes? These might not becomes apparent or directly impact the story, but they color how the character acts and reacts.

I could go on. Mudpuppy knows I could go on. [wink]

No quick fixes or ready-mix characters!
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by Mira » June 9th, 2011, 12:30 pm

Mudpuppy, I don't know you, and what I'm about to say may be totally off base, so please, please ignore it if it doesn't fit for you. Especially since this is sort of personal. But writing is personal, and it's hard to avoid going there when we talk about stuff like this.

I suspect that your women characters are nice, because you're nice. You need to get in touch with your inner b**tch. I'm serious.

Spend a day walking around saying "no" to everyone. Get angry. Be mean. Argue with people. Disagree with them. Contradict them, even before they've finished their sentence. Interrupt them when they are talking about themselves to start talking about yourself!

There's still alot of pressure on women in this culture to alway be nice, take care of people, be nurturing. Bleh. Break free of that, even if it's just alittle bit a day.

Get in touch with your ANGER. Then move onto your fear, and your sadness. The more in touch with yourself you are, the more that complexity will come out in your female characters.

Another serious suggestion - every time you write a female character, imagine she is having her period on that day. That will help you tap into her on a different level.

Check out Meredith Brooks song: "I'm a b**tch". That might be really helpful. I'd post it but I can't access you-tube at work. Maybe I'll do that later tonight.

Keep with it! You'll find her!

User avatar
Watcher55
Posts: 741
Joined: November 27th, 2010, 8:25 am
Location: Plantser-ville
Contact:

Re: Female Characters

Post by Watcher55 » June 9th, 2011, 12:43 pm

Everything y'all are saying is true, and I can't argue with any of it except to say that when it comes to children's books (see mudpuppy's post at the top of this page) the parameters are a little different. You do want quirky, you do want repetition even as high as MG (Harry Potter). Even then, I do agree that quirks are texture and not the dominant structure, but it's as good a place as any to start or at least it's an element that bears exploring.

Edit: role playing is good, but I try to go to places I'm not likely to be recognized if it requires "being" someone I'd never want to be.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests