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Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Zodiac Posts - TAURUS [2]

#WhatIsStrength?


My previous post on "strength" and "strong characters" led me to think about my own writing a little more. 

Quite a few people last week looked at strength through a very personal lens, identifying it with family members and friends. Others saw it in an abstract, ideal way, equating it with concepts rather than people. Still others thought that vulnerability was just as much a marker of strength as confidence was. I really enjoyed finding out what people thought, and suggesting ways of expanding the definitions of "strength" we all have in our minds. 

This week, I've been writing the fourth in my fantasy series, The Faustine Chronicles, The Book of Death. I've got a few new characters to have fun with, and, just as I was writing my other characters, I wasn't thinking about whether they were "strong" or not. I was actually thinking about how realistic they were given their back stories, personalities and the situations they found themselves in.


After reading a piece on "Strong Female Characters" by Tasha Robinson, critiquing female characters such as Valka in How To Train Your Dragon 2, and WyldStyle in The Lego Movie, I posed her questions at the end of the article to myself.

Do I write SFCs? As in, not individuals with flaws and weaknesses and cracks and limitations like everyone else (for these are the things that make us human) but Strong Female Characters [SFCs] as tropes, as walk-ons, as conventions? 
I hope not.

I see all my characters as individuals, so when I tell their stories, you have people in their stories who are peripheral, vital, passing by and deeply important. There are men in my life who are completely peripheral and had a passing or momentary impact on my life. There are women who have done the same thing. And for my male friends, the same thing applies. Everyone is the hero of their own story, but what you need to do when being in total control of that story is to ensure there is a balance. Real life doesn't have a balance, is messy, and is basically what you get with no means of appeal - but fiction has to make sense.


The one character that has always bothered me, though, who is abused and criticized and isn't very likeable but at the same time (I don't think) deserves what happens to her, has never had any sympathy from the readers.

Her name is Gisa Ranheard, and she appears in The Book of Time

Gisa outlived her abusive, cursed family, and even though her own curse is activated manages to turn it to her own advantage. But, because she stands in opposition to characters that the majority of readers seem to like, she gets zero sympathy from anyone. It was important to me that in some way there was justice for her. That was up to the other women; it was always going to be up to the female characters to sort each other out, and reveal their strengths and weaknesses to one another because of one another.


I think that's a key element in the books without me even realizing.


Perhaps that's because to me, strength comes in spite of mistakes and flaws, and shines through the cracks.

#WhatIsStrength to you? 

2 comments:

  1. @CarolinaC from Wattpad here - I totally agree with you, there are too many "SFCs" and not enough genuine characters. I think it's intersting that in your work that you've noticed a pattern, where it is up to female characters to sort one another out. I wonder what patterns there may be in my own work, and what they mean about me and about my conceptions of narrative :)

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    1. Hi! Yeah it's interesting - I'd never realized until I actually sat down and thought about it. You should blog about it! :D It's a great way of getting to know your own work better... :P

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