1. TheDarkWriter
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    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    Are female protagonists over done or just difficult to write?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TheDarkWriter, Sep 6, 2015.

    I mean quite often I feel like female protagonists at least on TV are over the top. I also feel that these types of stories are dumb take TVD Elena is considered a strong and powerful female character but she spends more time getting rescued I mean really she's more of a plot device.

    My other issues are more focused on the treatment of male characters. Case in point Cole in Charmed and Aleister from Bitten both were severely mistreated yet it was never addressed not thoroughly anyway.

    I'm sure there are as many more examples of the reverse however I feel this is a growing trend.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    How was Cole severely mistreated?

    I think female protagonists are neither overdone nor difficult to write.
     
  3. Inksmith
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    Inksmith New Member

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    I've never happened to find a female character difficult to draw about, albeit I can't really relate to them properly, being a male. But really, there's nothing considerably hard to detail or narrate about females.
     
  4. dreamersky1212
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    dreamersky1212 Active Member

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    I don't agree that female protagonists are either (hard to write or overdone). I think instead it is a tendency in this post-twilight time for writers to follow the pattern. Love or hate twilight, it sold, and it sold millions. That says something about the readers (overwhelmingly female) and what they want. I read the series...all of it. I also read the entire 50 shades of grey series and after doing both I can see what made them sell. We women want to be wanted, overwhelmingly and passionately wanted and that is what these series give to their readers.

    You can complain about the bad writing, the poor characterization and any other literary claptrap you wish. You are most likely even right about all of it, and still these books sold in the millions. How do you account for that?

    I think writers these days like to whine about how the writing has gone to hell and that only pure garbage like Twilight, 50 shades (and vampire diaries in the case of tv shows-though it was a book series first) is selling. But what they refuse to focus on is why? Oh the things writers can learn about their audience if they were to take a step back and figure out what the readers really want.

    Now, I am not saying that all writers should imitate twilight, in fact I am saying the opposite. That is what we are seeing far too much of, Stephanie Meyer caught the emotions of the readers, and everyone else just keeps putting out more and more stuff that tugs the same chord. We are becoming desensitized to it.

    What we need is writers that care more about finding that bond between the reader and the writing than they do about the literary greatness of their work. I think that readers are so hungry for that bond that they are willing to read the absolute garbage like twilight in order to get it. But what if we found a balance between good writing and tapping into the reader's desires? Wouldn't that be something to strive for?
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Every character in The Vampire Diaries is a plot device. :p

    By "difficult to write" are you commenting on the lack of interest you find in them? I suggest that is just the one's you are exposing yourself to.

    For movies try Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone. That's a much more interesting character portrayal.

    For books, try Marie Lu's The Young Elites or Isabel Allende's Maya's Notebook. Octavia Butler's Lilith's Brood or Kindred are excellent novels with female protagonists. Rick Yancy's The Fifth Wave is good.

    There are hundreds. :)
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I agree, I've plenty of female protagonists. Granted drawing them leaves much to be desired at least when it comes to my personal abilities to draw. :p They are deformed and one of them, Mishu, looks more like a boy than a girl, so yah. :p My drawing isn't exactly that good. :D
     
  7. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    My interest is in Young Adult novels. So, that has influenced my perspective. Since Harry Potter, there's been only one male protagonist which has had any market traction, Percy Jackson, and I think a strong argument can be made that Jackson is more Middle Grade than Young Adult.
     
  8. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, Percy Jackson is more middle grade. It's found in the children's section of a book store, though Rick is going to run into an issue very soon. His original audience is growing up, but they still love Percy Jackson and Rick's stories. He's still targeting middle grade too. I think he's going to have to start writing more "middle ground" that can cater to an older AND younger crowd. If he writes too adult, he'll lose his younger crowd. But if he writes too young, like the Kane Chronicles, he'll lose his older crowd. Poor guy. lol On a related note, though, I'm eagerly awaiting Magnus Chase.

    I disagree that Cole from Charmed was mistreated and undeserving of such treatment. He was a demon who killed innocent people. That warrants people treating him poorly, even if he was trying to change.

    As for females, I think there's two pretty specific types. The damsel in distress and the bad bitch. The damsel either stays a damsel or learns to protect herself. And the bad bitch almost always grows a little soft. Sometimes, she may even grow so soft as to put herself in danger, thus making her reevaluate whether or not she wants to be soft. I don't think it's bad writing. It's just a trope that writers get stuck on.

    I've never seen Vampire Diaries, so I can't remark on the main character there. But I've never read or watched a female protag that I thought was completely unreasonable. People are complex. I always just take them as quirks, not bad writing.

    Even in the case of Bella from Twilight. I didn't see it as bad writing because I can guarantee, there's at least one girl out there who would act exactly as Bella did in that situation. Not all women would, of course, and if you've never met a girl like Bella, it's easy to dismiss it as bad writing. But I've seen plenty of women become obsessed with men and do anything to keep them.

    Without more specific examples on why you think this, I can't really comment further than that though.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel the need for more detail about your premise. You've only offered one female example and two male examples, without detailing your complaint about any of them. (I'm also confused about how Cole was mistreated. A half-demon assassin working for an entity known as The Source Of All Evil is likely to attract some pretty harsh plots.)
     
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  10. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    ASTOUNDING MOVIE!!!

    I think that was the best example of a female protagonist I've ever seen.

    btw, rumor is that the director of this movie is considering doing a Pipi Longstocking movie.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2015
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  11. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    For examples which disprove your thesis, check out:
    The Circle of Magic and other Tortall novels by Tamora Pierce.
    The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Mayer.
    Tithe, and its sequels, by Holly Black.
    Those are just a few.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, plenty of good and bad female and male characters. The sex of a character doesn't make the character more difficult to write.
     
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  13. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    I disagree. Male and female voices are different and some people will find one voice easier than the other.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Depends on the male or female. People's "voices" run the entire spectrum, in both sexes. If you write what you think has to be a voice exclusive to females you enter the realm of steretypes.
     
  15. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    I think that a lot of men want to be wanted to, especially ones who fail to be as successful or popular with the opposite sex. For example, if in Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey, if they had switched the genders around, and they had a dominating and controlling woman pursuing a shy, inexperienced man with low self-esteem, isn't there a good chance that would sell too, especially since it may be more original?
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015
  16. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    I don't agree. Testosterone and estrogen both influence psyche (just read what female-to-male transsexuals report about taking testosterone and vice versa) and psyche influences tone.
     
  17. dreamersky1212
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    dreamersky1212 Active Member

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    Part of me really wants to believe that is true. I want to throw my fist in the air and shout "down with gender stereotypes!" and "men can cry too!"

    I want to believe it, but I am also practical. Gender stereotypes, true or not, unfair or not, are a part of our reality. I think your idea of flipping the genders would be cool. It would be interesting and innovative and tell a story that may need to be told. But it would turn a lot of people off.

    Men are taught from childhood how to act like men, women like women. It is part of female indoctrination to be the more emotional sex. So, to have a shy and weak heroine would fit our culture's view of gender. Many feminists, myself included, hate that we have such examples of womanhood being praised to the masses as something to aspire to. I want more mentally strong heroines. I want my MC to be intelligent and resourceful. I want her to want to find a meaningful relationship because it would add that much more to her life, not need one because she can not stand on her own two feet.

    Now, a shy male MC works, but only if there is something else for the reader to admire in him. It may not be fair, but it is the reality that we expect men to have more...just be more....than women. It is not good, but it is expected, that female MCs can be bland and useless. But just try to do that with a male MC and you will lose your audience pretty quickly.
     
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  18. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I think this is very true. Not sure about 'original' though - the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' trope has proven very popular ;)

    On an individual level, yes. On the population level @Steerpike was referring to (~3.5 billion individuals of each sex), I don't think sex hormones hold enough sway to completely obliterate the influence of all other factors contributing to psyche/tone.
     
  19. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Characters in a story are quite a different thing from people in real life. It isn't relevant how many people exist in real life since we're discussing characters in story.

    But, sex hormones are just one of the many significant differences between the sexes.
     
  20. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Of course this varies by culture. In Italy and Spain, men can cry much more freely.
    I don't think "shy and weak" is the view my culture (the USA) has of women. Many examples of women who are mentally strong, intelligent, and resourceful exist (Wonder Woman, Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen, etc.)
     
  21. dreamersky1212
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    dreamersky1212 Active Member

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    No, not all women are (the examples you listed are fictional but there are many real women who are not shy or weak, and I admire the hell out of them). But what I meant was that it is more okay for us (women) to be shy and weak than it would be for a man to be the same. It's not fair, but it is the world we live in.
     
  22. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    If we're discussing characters in a story, then it's empirically obvious that whatever sex could speak with whatever 'gendered' voice the writer saw fit. Unless it's intended to be realistic, in which case it should reflect people in real life (and I contend that it does).

    Yes, but a significant difference is not necessarily an important one. I think there are so many sex-independent factors that govern a person's voice that it's impossible to accurately describe a voice as male or female. Happy to agree to disagree, just my view :)
     
  23. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Write a person, not a gender.
    A bit simplistic, but there you go.
     
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  24. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    The character isn't realistic. It must seem realistic. Those aren't the same thing. It should be believable to the average reader. If the average reader has trouble suspending their disbelief, publishers aren't going to accept your novel. Even those characters who are deliberate inversions of the traditional sex roles (such as Brienne of Tarth) must still read as a woman, not genderless.
     
  25. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    First and foremost, writing for TV, writing for YA market and writing-writing are hardly the same thing. You can write whatever shit you want and you can, as history has shown us, sell and get utter shit to be read (and forget about Twilight and its fan-fiction, the first part of the last century was the pulp era, when not only did people write shit, they also published it on shitty paper) :)

    Yeah, women like to be mistreated, abused and feel empowered by being treated like sex objects (at least that's what I get it from the mostly-female read, mostly shitty, mostly best-selling literature of the last decade). Does that mean we should all write that way? Is that what we should "learn" from the industry: that crappy characters and ethically dubious plots (if plots at all) are perfectly okay if written in purple-to-shitty prose, and are thus a thing to strive for in our professional writing? Let me use the S-word one more time then :)

    Back to OP: female protagonists may be hard to write good IF you are 1) male, 2) adolescent, 3) otherwise inexperienced (as a writer or as a person), 4) if you use the industry-devised mold that only knows how to treat the same type of cardboard "characters" and believes nothing outside the mold exists.

    Not that I care that much about shitty literature - there is quite a lot of quality literature published, even if little of it is in the "bestest selling" top-lists (hint: look at books bellow place 10 from time to time). Hollywood does tend to produce very little of anything these days that doesn't push the crap-meter off-scale, but hey: you still have pretty good TV shows to turn to. And thousands upon thousands of non-Hollywood movies (not to mention the tens of thousands of movies and TV shows filmed before 2015 that you could always take a peek at).
     
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