This may come across as a bit of a rant–which it is, in its own way. It’s Saturday morning, I’ve been cleaning junk off my computer for two hours, and coffee isn’t helping. Not to mention, this idea has been bouncing about in my head since lunch time yesterday.
Time to let it out so it can smack down a few items along the way.
Yesterday I was reading a story, one that was intended to be erotica. It didn’t start off bad; it was written so that it appeared to be an entry in a woman’s diary, and it opened in such a way that you wanted to know more–
That is, until I reached the point where the character described herself as having “B cup boobs”–and just like that, my suspension of disbelief collapsed faster than the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe the writer’s character like referring to her breasts as “boobs”. Maybe she really does like her boss’ “nice D’s”. Maybe she’s really focused on cup size when she thinks about breasts.
Or . . . maybe it’s a guy doing the writing, and he has no other way of getting across the idea that one woman has normal-sized breasts, and the other is slightly larger, and figured, “I’ll just have her write about their cup sizes, that’s gonna do the trick!”
I read a few more paragraphs after that, and stopped. It wasn’t that the writing was bad, but the writer was doing a really crappy job telling the tale from his female character’s perspective. She didn’t come across as a woman, but more like a guy with a bad idea of how a woman might talk about the sexy.
If you know me through this blog, you know I write a lot of female characters. I’m not always perfect, but I feel I do a very good job creating characters that are three-dimensional, and fairly realistic. I was even complemented by one writer, who said my characters were so good, she thought I was a woman.
I take a lot of pride in my characters, because I feel that stories need to be character driven, and if you have crappy characters, you’re going to have a crappy story. In particular, I like my female characters to come across as intelligent and realistic–mostly because so many stories don’t do the same. Even when I was writing fetish fiction, I tried to make the women in my stories real, as opposed to just objects for one to wank over.
I understand that finding a woman’s voice is not always easy. I don’t always find it easy myself, and I’ve worked hard at it over the years. It’s hard finding a voice for any characters, male or female, but female characters seem to get the short shrift most of the time. It’s easy to go for the stereotype, to reduce her to some background noise that’s more of a notion of how a woman should act. And way too many people go that way, because–hey, why not? Writing is hard, didn’t you know that?
Writers are supposed to be observant; the Watchers of the Watchmen, so to speak. When it comes to women, though, it seem like all a majority of writers–aka, men–see are B and Bs, and it ends up coming across in their stories. And if your female character sees herself the same way, you’re not going to get any love from me–or any further reading of your stories.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps I’m nitpicking over another writer’s style, and my feelings for his characters arise more out of a general dislike for his work. Maybe I’m just making a big deal out of nothing–
Perhaps, though, I’m hitting the nail on the head, because he’s not the only one guilty of doing this.
Know your characters. Because taking the easy way makes you a hack. Who wants to be a hack?
Not this girl . . .