Monday, January 5, 2015

Monday Music 65 & Female Characters in Literature

So I completely forgot it's Monday. Can you blame me? I was up till 1:00 AM last night due to this bug I caught from my sister, and I forgot the difference between telekinetic and telepathic. So you can see my dilemma. Thus, if whatever I'm saying below makes little sense, you can blame my illness-addled brain.

But anyhow, I saw an interesting post on the Tor blog about secondary female characters being almost nonexistent. It's true that female characters are getting much more notice nowadays, and although I would love for the "kickass female character" role to not necessarily amount to this female character literally kicking ass. She can do that with her mind just as well as with her body. They can be weak, or afraid, or self-doubtful, and still kick ass.

But back to the topic of secondary female characters. One of my favorite quotes about writing (and is actually on my "About Me" page) states: "Treat all of your secondary characters like they think the book is about them." In my book, I have a group of four female characters, each with different personalities, who all play a big role in the looming war. I also have a female friend of Eleri's and Eleri's sisters. I also have the demon queen and her grandmother. And, obviously, Eleri. I think I have a nice, rounded cast of female characters, but so often in literature, you don't see that.

Think about Lord of the Rings (though this series obviously came from a different time period, but stick with me). Really, the only female characters that play a significant role (at least in the movies) are Arwen and Eowyn. In The Hunger Games, you really only have Katniss and Prim (and I suppose you can count Effie, Johana, and President Coin, though they are only three out of numerous male roles). In Throne of Glass, you have Celaena, Nehemia, Kaltain, and the ghost of Elena. The rest of the characters (or at least the majority of them, particularly with the other Champions) are male. In later books, you have mostly males--Chaol, Dorian, Archer, Aedion, Rowan, Luca, Ren--though you certainly do have females, such as Manon and the rest of the witches.

It's kind of an epidemic. Don't get me wrong; I love male characters. I love to swoon over them, and I certainly have my fair share in my book (my assassins, some of my soldiers, my Captain of the Queen's Guard, Eleri's brothers, her father) because I like to have a balance of both. It's a fine line between stuffing the idea of strong female characters down readers' throats and having just enough of a balance where it's noticeable and not worth complaints. But I do know it's possible; I just take a look at my critique partners' work or some other favorite books from Laini Taylor, Rae Carson, Robin Lafevers, and Marisa Meyer. They're able to balance the female-to-male ratio quite well.

But something to keep in mind is that it's your story. You can't please everyone. Ignore the numerous complaints and requests in the world (believe me, I have a hard time doing this! Luckily, many of the complaints also align with what I dislike, such as the lack of diverse kickass female characters) and write the story you need to write. Write your story like no one will read the book, but edit it like the world will. Then you can focus on what needs to be addressed in terms of males-to-females.

And now, before this post can get any longer (hard to imagine, no?) here is your Monday Music selection! This week's is called "Air Raid Drill" from the Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack. I've been playing it on repeat, and the part that begins at 3:30 gives me so many feels about my sequel to my demon fantasy.

Happy Monday!


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