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Feminine Characters

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Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:20 am
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Snoink says...



What do you think makes a good girl character? Is it the usual 'staying true to herself' or 'proving she's just as good as the guys'?

And more importantly, what makes her an anti-Sue? What makes her feminine, but not angsty?

...and the icing on the cake: examples?

So, ramble away! I'm looking forward to some insights. ^_^


Staying true to herself? Ew. No.

I don't know about you, but when I try to stay true to myself, I end up doing something that is so unlike me that it's ridiculous, really. Usually, when you think about staying true to yourself, this ends up being an excuse to not change yourself so that you don't have to change or so you can stick with a viewpoint that you don't want to change, even though the evidence shows that you should. This can be George Bush sticking it out with the immigration bill or someone throwing away her best friend because "she's a lesbian" or doing something else. And mind you, the examples I threw out are not ridiculous -- in fact, you can make a good argument on why those people did what they did. But this is a way to make CONFLICT, not CHARACTER. See the difference?

And ohmigosh, no. She doesn't have to prove that she's just as good as the guys. In fact, why are there so many feminine characters that want to do thiis? I realize that there are many females who want to compete against guys, but most girls are more focused on getting through ALL of life instead of just, "I'm going to beat the guys!" To just look at guys as being an obstacle to being a better person is an immature thing to do, and if you have a mature, or even a slightly mature girl, then "beating the guys" is only a small part of what she has to do with proving herself as a person.

Note the word: I did not say woman, I said person.

Because just because you're a particular gender doesn't mean you don't struggle with being human. I mean, I think the most common mistake with people who are writing for both sexes believe that, for some mysterious reason, girls and guys are completely different from each other. In some cases, they are. Girls deal with things differently than guys, but that's only a nuance. They are very very similar though. They deal with love, loneliness, pain, rejection, failure, success, and other human experiences that make them, well, human.

So first of all, a character has to be human.

Then the next question is "What is this character facing that is original, in the terms of the story?" Which is the main conflict that the character has to go through -- or else.

To use FREAK as an example!

In the freak's case, her conflict is that she isn't accepted as a human, yet she takes on many very human circumstances. In Carolina's case, her conflict deals with making sure that her family is insulated from the rest of the world (which um... doesn't quite work out). In Sadie's case, it's trying to break out of the shell of being a little girl into someone who is Important. In Elsa's case, it's just making sure that the family doesn't kill each other. So all four of the girls (yeesh, that's a small story) there are different prioriies and the conflicts occur because each of those priorities come up.

Some other stories might deal with characters who are bent with proving that they are equally as masculine as the guys, but not all characters should be like this. Please. They should all have something that they fight for individually. That will help create variety in your story.

Whatever their goals, there is still another goal that should always be a part of a story. The character should want to be a good person. In particular, for this question, the heroine should want to become a good woman. As with male characters who want to be good men, female characters who want to be good women have many opportunities to become heroines through their actions. So it's not like you have to have her always beat males to be a heroine (in fact, if you do this, I will have to kill you because of the sheer clicheness of it all).

So then, the question is, "What makes a good woman?"

And then here's the snag. You have to figure out what your society expects of women and make that work within your story. For example, in FREAK, it would not make sense for the freak to start killing people. I mean, some people might deserve to be killed in the story but what makes her a heroine is that she lives through the conflicts that she is given and helps everyone (well... most everyone) to get through it as well.

In many mythologies, this is typical of the woman character. The best heroine, in mythology, assumes the mother figure of the creator (or someone who is close to the creator) and then helps her "children" (the creation) to grow. And that makes her amazing. So in Greek you have Gaea, in Hindu, you have Shakti, in Catholicism (an offshoot of Christianity) you have Mary, and so on. These "mothers" are extremely important and in many stories, the heroines help by preserving.

I mean, in modern stories this doesn't happen because you have all these females who want to be better than men, yada yada, but it might be nice to see this figure again.

You can sort of see in in Arwen, from Lord of the Rings. She follows what's happening and helps out Aragorn, among other things. Yeah, she's kick ass as well, but is more of a preserver than a doer, really.

Anyway, having female characters who are motherly types might be wonderful, because while men are usually seen as the protectors, women are seen as the preservers. And while this may seem "boring" to some, it really really doesn't have to be. Have you had any fights with your mom? Yes, huh? Okay, now add in a motherly figure who feels obligated to take care of a lot of crazy characters. Eep.

And remember: you have Shakti, but doesn't she have a form of Durga, who has a companion called Shiva? They'll preserve when they can, but if pushed, they can go nuts. Take Carolina, from FREAK, as an example.

So yeah. Matronly figures are awesome.

But then again, it really depends on what your society is like. For the backdrop of many mythologies, being a preserver is what makes a good woman, but who knows? You call the shots for your world.
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"The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly." ~ Richard Bach

Moth and Myth <- My comic! :D




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Sat Oct 06, 2007 11:37 pm
Black Ghost says...



I seem to write for female characters 90% of the time, so this helps ;P.


MM




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Mon Oct 08, 2007 2:24 pm
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Myth says...



Eowyn is a feminine character isn't she?

Anyway, thanks for the tips, I'll have to read through character proflies now to see if I have any feminists--I can think of two at the moment.
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Sat May 24, 2008 3:40 pm
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GryphonFledgling says...



Very nice article.

One thing: Catholicism isn't an "offshoot" of Christianity. It is the original Christian faith and the other denominations split off of it with Martin Luther. So, yeah...

Anyway, I really liked your examples here. Your "human" examples can work for characters of both genders.

*thumbs up*

~GryphonFledgling
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Mon Aug 04, 2008 12:57 pm
Chirantha says...



Even if I'm a boy it doesn't mean I don't use female characters in my stories!

So,your tips are really beneficial and helpful.

Thankyou very much :D




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Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:13 pm
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kaonna says...



This helps alot, I mainly make my main character a girl. Like now in both versions of the same story, the protagonist is a cruel countess [kinda based off of Elizabeth Bathory] and the antagonist is a revenge seeking woman who goes by the name Mirage so this actually makes me want to tone the characters down alot more.
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Fri Dec 05, 2008 11:53 pm
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oneeyedunicornhunter says...



Just a little thing...the protagonist doesn't necessarily have to be a "hero" or "heroine", and might not want to be "good", at least in the traditional sense. It's quite common for the protagonist to have no desire to prove their "goodness" to anyone else, be it a friend, a wife, even God, etc. It's less common, though not unheard of, for a character to not strive for any change at all. A perfect example is the Joker from the Dark Knight. He has no morals, does not value any form of life, and only does what he does for the enjoyment of it.
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Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:38 am
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Snoink says...



He was a sociopath though. ;) That's a completely different tutorial, lol.
Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.

"The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly." ~ Richard Bach

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Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:48 pm
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Josh0 says...



Fine. I'll delete that. But I would appricate it if the comment by GryphonFledgling, especially the bit about christian beliefs, at least being cut/edited. Thank you. No offence intended.

Anyway, thanks for this, it was really useful.
But I have a question.

I’m trying to recreate an older sister for my main character. Since I’m a guy, and I have no older siblings what so ever, and no sisters, this is proving extremely difficult; the dialogue I give her seems flat and uninteresting. They were orphaned when they were young, so she kind of acts as a mother to him completely unintentionally. Does anyone have any ideas or help? Thanks
Last edited by Josh0 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Um... help?




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Tue Jan 20, 2009 1:33 am
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Rosey Unicorn says...



I just have to point this out:

Shankti is not a female goddess per say. It's an energy. Specifically the activation energy for male gods.
A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo

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