Writing Women Characters as Human Beings

Guest Blog by Kate Elliott (Found on Tor.com)

Source: https://www.tor.com/2015/03/04/writing-women-characters-as-human-beings/

Hello Fiction Lovers!

So I’ve been reading more writing advice posts and I came across this one that I thought made some really good points. I think that it won’t only help writers write better female characters, but more well rounded characters overall. It can also help if you feel like you’ve been stuck writing cliches or stereotypes. One thing that she made me realize is that even though I have multiple women characters I don’t often have them talk to each other because they are part of different subplots. And that’s something I should fix because they are all in a single manor and would talk to each other more often than I’m have them do so. She also makes a good point about preconceptions and how there is a difference between choosing to make a character more of a stereotype or two-dimensional, and simply doing so without realizing it.

I strongly encourage you to click on the above link even if you have the most well-rounded female characters because it can help you view writing in a new way and help with other parts of writing as well. Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to share your thoughts on this topic as well!

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Active Characters

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First of all, I want to apologize for getting this out late. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about this week and I took so long debating it that Monday was over before I got to writing it. That said, lately I’ve thinking about active characters and so I finally decided that I should write about them.

In my experience, readers a very partial to active characters over passive characters. I think this is because we would rather see someone working toward something instead something being done to someone. The latter can be frustrating, especially when it happens over and over again, which is never a terrible fun emotion to feel. The frustration with the character can lead to frustration with the book/story and can cause a reader to stop reading–something no writer wants, and most likely the reader isn’t satisfied with having to put a book down either. That isn’t to say that a character can’t be passive, just that they shouldn’t be passive all the time. When a character, especially a main character, is passive continuously it raises the question of what they are contributing to the story, why they are there, because it feels like they can be replaced with any other passive person and the story would be the same. So, when you’re writing make sure that you give reasons/let the characters take actions to show why they are the ones that must be in this particular story.

There are two reasons why I think some writers have trouble writing active characters: they think they are writing active characters but their characters are reacting instead of acting, and they place their characters in confining places/situations so it seems like there is nothing for their characters to do. To solve the first problem, I would ask yourself if something happens and then your characters act, because that is an example of reacting and reacting is more passive. Let your characters make a plan and act on it to move the plot forward instead. Reaction can be fine, especially when characters are caught off-guard but please don’t use it for every plot point. As for the second problem, remember that every action doesn’t have to be some huge story altering thing. Maybe your character just wants a piece of cheese or to make friends with the prisoner in the next cell over. If they are stuck in a cell or some other place where they can’t move around much let them make a plan to escape or to minimize the danger/discomfort they are in, and then let them act on that plan.

I hope that this was helpful and please let me know if you have any questions! Feel free to post your thoughts on active characters in the comments and I hope you all have a good week!

Story Prompt #52

Song Prompt:

“King” by Lauren Aquilina

You’re alone, you’re on your own, so what?
Have you gone blind?
Have you forgotten what you have and what is yours?
Glass half empty, glass half full
Well either way you won’t be going thirsty
Count your blessings not your flaws

You’ve got it all
You lost your mind in the sound
There’s so much more
You can reclaim your crown
You’re in control
Rid of the monsters inside your head
Put all your faults to bed
You can be king again

You don’t get what all this is about
You’re too wrapped up in your self doubt
You’ve got that young blood, set it free

You’ve got it all
You lost your mind in the sound
There’s so much more
You can reclaim your crown
You’re in control
Rid of the monsters inside your head
Put all your faults to bed
You can be king

There’s method in my madness
There’s no logic in your sadness
You don’t gain a single thing from misery
Take it from me

You’ve got it all
You lost your mind in the sound
There’s so much more
You can reclaim your crown
You’re in control
Rid of the monsters inside your head
Put all your faults to bed
You can be king

You’ve got it all
You lost your mind in the sound
There’s so much more
You can reclaim your crown
You’re in control
Rid of the monsters inside your head
Put all your faults to bed
You can be king again

I was watching AMVs and thought this song spoke about an interesting character. What character comes to mind for you from this song? Is the narrator “you” from the future or another character? Just some questions I had; it can be fun to come up with your own as well based on the song.

Character Motivation

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First I would like to apologize for getting this post to you late. It’s midterm season and studying has made me busier than normal. This week I’ve been thinking about character motivation because on of my professors pointed out that writers, typically, seem to focus on more what a character fears or dislikes rather than what they love. She challenged us to come up with three things the main characters in the short stories we are writing for the class love. It was more difficult than I thought it would be.

The challenge served as a reminder that even though what a character fears/dislikes. what bad things happen to them, typically drive a story forward a writer can’t forget to add in good things too. You don’t have to force the good things into the story, just like it’s a bad idea to the same for more tragic things, but knowing what they are and keeping them in mind as you write can help flesh out a character and the story. The character will strive just as much, if not more, to obtain the things they love rather than just escaping the things they fear. Often too fear and bad decisions can come out of love and good intentions. Knowing those things can make your character’s motivation more nuanced and realistic. And that will be more interesting for your readers.

It’s good to remember to let the motivation flow from the story instead of trying to force a trope or other idea to work. It might take you a few tries but the character will let you know why they are doing what they are doing as you write and edit the story. It might seem clunky at first when you are getting the basic idea for the story down but as you flesh out the story and learn more about the characters their motivations will be more clear, and those motivations won’t always be a tragic backstory. A tragic backstory is good for some types of characters but others accidentally became involved with whatever the story is about and are trying to return to their normal life or want to make the best of it, a few had good childhoods and want others to have the same or got bored by it and decided to something a little more exciting. It all depends on the character. Write the story and listen to them.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! I hope you all have a fun week.

Story Prompt #46

Character prompt:

Everything thinks she can’t speak, but the truth is she chooses not to. People tell her things and speak around her with less care than they normally would and so she learns things that she can use. However, she has only used her knowledge to help with little things so far such as returning a stolen necklace and helping two people to become friends again.