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Reblogged from rosalarian  1,509 notes





There was a little back-and-forth this morning on Twitter about a question Gail Simone and Kelly Sue DeConnick were asked on a con panel, about how to write believable female characters. Deb Aoki wondered aloud (or a-tweet) whether male writers should be asked how to write believable male characters.

The conversation got me thinking (or at least typing), and here, preserved for questionable posterity, is what I had to say, somewhat edited for clarity:

I’ve never been asked how to write believable male characters. I have been asked how to write believable female characters, as if they’re alien beings or something.

“How do I write believable women?” from male writers, is essentially asking how to write characters that are different from you. But all characters are different from you, or should be, unless they’re you. Characters are individuals, not types. If you’re writing them as types, you’re doing it wrong.

All characters are like you in some ways, and not like you in others. How do you write the parts that aren’t like you? Same as you do with any character. You have eyes, ears and a brain. You write from observation, experience, research and analysis.

If you’re writing a woman, you’re not writing a “women.” Write her. That character, that individual. A person, not a category.

Hillary Clinton, Sally Ride, Honey Boo-Boo and Dolley Madison don’t all want the same things, don’t all try to get them the same way, don’t come from the same background, have the same families, education, outlook, etc. Just the same as a similar group of men.

Write characters from who they are, what they want, where they come from, how they challenge or hide from problems, etc. Characters are individuals. They behave like themselves, not like some monolithic expression of their gender, race, religion or whatever else.

If you’re a white agnostic from New England and you’re writing a white Catholic from Georgia, you’re writing someone who’s different from you, and you need to use observation, experience, analysis, projection and maybe research to get it right. Same thing if the character is a woman, or Hispanic, or transgender, or 180-degrees from you politically, or whatever. You are always writing characters who aren’t the same as you.

Write ‘em as individuals. What do they want? How are they trying to get it? Them, as individuals. Their gender, their skin color, their cultural context, their life experience, all of these things will shape who they are, what they want, how they approach life. Use it all.

If I’m writing a black woman from St. Louis who’s an ex-Navy aviator whose parents have doctorates, she’s going to be way different from a blonde popstar millionaire who grew up an orphan. That they’re both women is only one part of them, and I need to write from all of it.

With any character, it comes back to: Who are they, where do they come from, what do they want, how do they try to get it? Any character.

Also useful advice if you find yourself writing alien beings. Or your neighbor.

Great writing advice from the one & only Kurt Busiek (who also wrote the introduction to Superhero Girl). :D

This is so important!

Reblogged from darkpuck  4,910 notes

October “Toby” Daye was in many ways my first “real” protagonist. She was complicated, she was sad, she was bruised and refusing to break, and she was not afraid to put her duty ahead of her desire to be liked. She bullied her way through the world she was created to inhabit, looking at every complication that stood in her way and saying “No, you move.” After a lifetime spent moving dolls through stories, it was like I finally had a real person to follow and document. I started writing her adventures, and sending them out to people I trusted to read and review. Midway through either the second or the third book—I don’t remember anymore—I got a note from one of my proofers saying “You can’t have Toby do this, she’s always been a little bitchy, but this makes her a total bitch. No one will like her if she does this.”

I panicked. I couldn’t write a series about an unlikeable character! I’d never get published, no one else would ever meet my imaginary friends, and everything I’d worked for my whole life would be over, all because Toby was unlikeable.

Then I took a deep breath, and wrote back to the proofer requesting that they do a find/replace on the .doc, and plug in the name “Harry Dresden” for every instance of “October Daye.” They did, and lo and behold, what had been “bitchy” and “inappropriate” was suddenly “bold” and “assertive.” A male character in the same situation, with the same background, taking the same actions, was completely in the right, justified, and draped with glory. He was a hero. Toby? Toby was an unlikeable bitch.

The proofer withdrew the compliant. I have never forgotten it.

By seanan_mcguire: Characters, criteria, and causation: where the problem lies. (via helavik)

Reblogged from marthawells  2,915 notes

If I had the power, I would ask all the authors in the world to do Yuletide or something like it every year. Sign up for a fic exchange and write some porn for a stranger; tailor your stories to an audience of one, let go of the long-form plots and the careful wide-spectrum appeal, embrace the joy of spending a hundred words on Carlos’s perfect hair or Buffy’s perfect shoes or Jo’s perfect knives. Remember the joy of waiting for one person to open a story and see what it contains.

Because fanfic is joy. Fanfic is fixing the things you see as broken, and patching the seams between what’s written and what is not, and giving characters who got cheated out of their happy endings another chance. There was a time, not that long ago as we measure things, where all fiction was what we would now call “fan fiction.” Shakespeare didn’t come up with most of his own plots. He wrote plays about the stories people already loved. We didn’t get a thousand versions of “Snow White” accidentally: people changed that story to suit themselves, and no one said they weren’t storytellers, or looked down on them for loving that core of red and black and white, of apples and glass and snow.


Seanan McGuire, “Let’s Talk About Fanfic.”

(hat tip to kassrachel for the link!)

Reblogged from notanotherexit  2 notes

Ellora’s Cave Sues Dear Author


#ellorascave Sues Dear Author

Tweeple! @ellorascave has sued me for libel / defamation so I need a good Ohio attorney. If you have a recommendation, let me know!

— DearAuthor (@dearauthor) September 26, 2014

Dear @ellorascave I welcome your suit and look forward to inspecting all of your books. Truth is a defense in defamation cases.

— DearAuthor (@dearauthor) September 26, 2014

The suit link herehinges on several…

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