Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Making of a Woman

Misconceptions about womanhood are played out in books and on the big and small screen all the time.  To believe that emphasizing the attractiveness of a woman's face or the firmness of her thighs will have no effect on how men view women or how young women see themselves is a lie.

Writers who perpetuate such misconceptions do a disservice to womankind.

Lately, I've been editing my version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses featuring a dozen distinct female characters. The journey from character sketch to final scene taught me a great deal about what makes a woman.

Let me tell you, it ain't those size 0 jeans. (Especially if the lady in question happens to be fond of chocolate. Or human.)

And it certainly isn't a blemish-free face. We earned those wrinkles with years of laughter and tears, didn't we? 
Could it be the sweet, patient woman who holds her tongue when perturbed? Perhaps.

But it could just as easily be the sharp-tongued lass who gives as good as she gets.

Might it be the glowing wit that leaves a room rolling with laughter? Maybe.

But it might also be she who delivers speeches that inspire, uplift, and move a room to tears and brave acts.

Being a woman may include a heart worn on a sleeve for all to see and abuse. It may include a tough skin built to guard a soft heart from hurt.

True womanhood encompasses a number of human foibles, mistakes and missteps that make a character human, lovable, and more understanding of others.
The women featured in literature should be a reflection of the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and wonderful aunties in our lives. Good, bad, interesting, bland. Real. And more than a pretty face and an itty bitty dress size or a big bottom and a penchant for donuts.

Because that doesn't define us.

Real women are driven by love, pain, anger, jealousy, protectiveness, loyalty, and a myriad of other things. Shouldn't they have a place in literature? Shouldn't they have a chance to shape the way men think about us or what young women learn to value in themselves?

The more complex, intriguing woman I transform from  fairytales princesses who suck up the abuse only to become trophy wivee into complex, intriguing women, the better I feel. Isn't it time to stand up for real women with saddle bags, rings under their eyes, and no energy? Isn't it time to celebrate motherhood and dirty diapers and potty training? Isn't it time to celebrate women who work their butts off to make a difference in the world?
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Thanks for dropping by! Feel free to leave me a comment and share your tips on crafting female characters. And if you'd love to read more about writing awesome heroes, peruse away!
Develop Sassy Heroes by Being One
Barbie's Dream Boat
Classic Heroines: Anne of Green Gables
The Power of Fairytales
Fairytales & Fancy Footwear
Diva Depressed
Funny Girls: Hostile Makeover

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Hazards of Dealing with Writers

It must be peculiar when someone argues with imaginary characters and invents new ways to torture them.
Today we embark on a frank discussion about the hazards of dealing with writers. Hopefully our efforts will encourage our loved ones to rant and rave less when dealing with our nutcase behavior. 

The Blink and Stare 
owl animals bird blinking staring
They do: Writers get lost in daydreams. Occasionally that means we stare into space while filling plot holes and imagining horribly wonderful things to do to characters.

You do: When we zone out, just hand us frosty beverages and snacks! (It's important to keep writers sufficiently nourished in this state.)

The Overuse of Extraordinarily Long Words 
They do: After writing and rewriting, adding and deleting descriptions, adverbs, and adjectives, writers' brains are overflowing with sesquipadelian words. 

You do: If these words emerge in ordinary conversation, smile and nod, my dears. (Feel free to dive for the dictionary later.)

Prolonged Periods of Quiet
They do: While writers work, it may become uncomfortably quiet. Remember that the writer in question is carrying on various conversations in her/his head and/or dealing with everything from grammar issues to problematic plot twists. 

You do: Avoid interrupting the writer at all costs. An irritated writer is capable of adding you to their cast of characters and using those long periods of silence to plot your death. 

Intermittent Laughter 
They do: Writerly silence may be interrupted by giggles and/or maniacal laughter. Yes, we giggle at our own stories. (Sorry.) And when we add something particularly evil that will make readers yell out loud and throw their Kindles across the room, the maniacal laughter comes out.

You do: It's best not to interfere. Unless you want an ear full of whatever we're cackling about. We'll behave normally later. (Probably.)

Intermittent Tears 
black and white sad jennifer lawrence crying upset
They do: At some point, all writers believe that their talents are CRAP and their stories aren't worth publishing. This may result in tears, tears, and more tears. 

You do: Keep the tissue on hand, pass out hugs as needed, and prepare several supportive statements like: 
  • My, your butt looks amazing in those sweatpants! 
  • Your natural scent is beautifully musky!
  • How about another round of hot chocolate and Downton Abbey?

Odd Expressions/Gestures
friends lisa kudrow phoebe buffay phoebe friends tv
They do: Writers may run into trouble describing a character's facial expressions or gestures. Sometimes, we practice the very things they're trying to describe, which will probably resemble some sort of bizarre mating ritual. (Again, sorry.)

You do: Just pretend like you didn't see anything. And think about how funny it will be to mock us later...much later.

Odd Research Questions and Google Searches
They do: Certain projects require writers to research bizarre subjects. We may ask you about how to stab someone fatally or poison a coworker. 

You do: Don't worry. It's all in the name of literature. Just delete the browser history regularly and keep 911 on speed dial just in case.

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Writers are a pack of weirdos. There's no arguing with that. But because of their creative bend, they do keep life interesting!

What other writer hazards have you encountered? Leave me a comment!