1. MrStoryTeller
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    MrStoryTeller Member

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    Help with male/female characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MrStoryTeller, Sep 7, 2015.

    So I've been in a writing funk since 2013 and haven't written anything in a long time. I love telling stories and I want to be a screenwriter/producer/director when I grow up, but I NEED to start writing again. The thing is, I don't like forcing myself to write, because it doesn't feel right. However, I ALWAYS get inspired when reading a book, or watching a movie/TV show. Even reading ABOUT writing will sometimes get me in the writing mood. So to ease into it my writing mood, I have come here to find inspiration, and I have a slight problem.

    The girls in my story are too badass and the boys are too boring/dull.

    Eve though I'm a guy, I pretty much only write from a girl's POV. The thing is, I HATE weak and helpless girl characters and get annoyed by them in books, TV shows, and movies. So whenever I write, I try and have at least ONE of my girls as some cool and awesome chick who kicks butt.

    However the more I wrote, the more boring my MC would become and I would scrape the draft. Now most of my MC's are somewhat badass and headstrong. Now, obviously it also depends on the story, but I just get SO bored of a MC who doesn't know how to defend herself.

    However, this also makes ALL my boy characters WAY too dull or boring. I tried having that goofball guy who cracks jokes and is comedic relief, but I wasn't finding him very interesting. I tried the slightly goth guy who was cool, calm, and collected, but it was hard showing his emotions and he wasn't very relatable. My go-to romantic interests were basically a diamond with no flaws. Which made him the dullest of them all.

    So now I'm stuck with three characters I always include and I really need to change it up.

    The "Normal" girl: She's usually the MC, nice, friendly, outgoing, is scared when she gets dragged into the bigger picture but isn't afraid to step up when she needs to. Curious, but cautious, she will defend her friends even if she has to risk her own life.

    The "Badass" girl: She's headstrong, calculative, and smart. She knows what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. She usually has some kind of skill that excels her above the rest, and she is almost always a kickass when it comes to martial arts. Usually clashes with "Normal" girl.

    The "Golden Boy" guy: He's super nice, friendly, and would take a bullet for those he cares about. He won't let anyone get in harms way and he will sacrifice himself if needed. He usually acts like a father figure to the younger characters and is very caring. He's usually the MC's love interest.

    So after reading that, it's clear I need SOME kind of character which doesn't fall into these three categories. Especially the guy, I just can't seem to write a boy with a unique and likable personality. It's frustrating because all my MC girls are the same and all their love interests are the same, the only time when they aren't is if I use the "Badass" as my MC, but then I need to write in another MC which usually falls into the "Normal" girl category in order for the storyline to not be the badass MC solving everything in two chapters.
     
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  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Very few people are either complete cowards or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We fall on a spectrum - men and women. We'll fight hard for some things but cower away from others - maybe a mother would fight to the death for her baby, but runs out of the house when she sees a spider. Maybe a man will punch someone's lights out if they insult his best friend, but if he was mugged in the street he'd hand over his watch and then go to a police station to report it. It's because we have different motivations, and that's what you need to tap in to. At the moment, your characters are all just stereotypes.

    Next time you create a normal girl, as yourself what things she will "step up" to and what things she will be "cautious" about. Okay, friends are one, but what else? And why are her friends so important to her? Why would she die for them? What do they give her that her family and her own self-esteem don't?

    What made your badass girl take martial arts classes? Why is she so afraid of being attacked? Why does she look down on Normal Girl? Why does she have to be better than the other girls around her? Where does that insecurity come from? There must be something in the world that she's afraid of, something she can't just dropkick into oblivion. What is it? Why?

    How come your Golden Boy is so nice? Doesn't he ever get sick of being nice and want to be one of those bad guys that always seems to get the girl, even though he treats her like shit? What makes him lose his cool and go Bad Boy? What pushes his buttons?

    Just dig a little deeper. You can create 10 stories with Normal Girl, Badass Girl and Golden Boy but, if all 30 of them have different motivations, they'll be 10 completely different stories.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Exactly what Tenderiser says. What motivates them to do what they do? Is Golden Boy so nice because he came from a rotten home and this is his way of defining himself as his own man? Was he bullied once, so it spurred him to be as strong as possible so he could protect the weak and vulnerable? Or was he a bully himself once and this is him trying to repent for his actions? Why is he willing to take a bullet and potentially die for those he loves?

    With Normal Girl, what kind of morals and values does she hold up? Create situations where she'll be willing to preach them to those 'beneath' her, yet when faced with someone of 'authority' acting against her morals and values, what does she do then? What would she do in a heartbeat versus what she'd be willing to run the other way for? Same with your Badass Girl. And Golden Boy for that matter.
     
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  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi welcome to the forum.

    It looks like you are really thinking your characters through. Wanting to write a different female character than I was reading motivated me to write a book in the first place. My critique group has been a big help forcing less perfect more interesting characters out of me.

    Write them then bend the clay. My wonderful boyfriend who of course should be helping the protagonist, tries but gets it wrong. He sees things differently than she does, but not because he isn't in love. My protagonist is capable and intelligent except when her self-esteem crumbles around the other girls because she's not like them. She makes the right choice but it has the wrong outcome. She has a secret admirer but does he like her or the fantasy he's created about her?

    That girl who knows how to defend herself can worry she's not feminine. The goth guy who is cool, calm, and collected can have an abusive father he can't face up to.

    Give that Golden Boy flaws. Make him annoy the girls by being too overprotective, they ignore him, giggling how old school he is, and nothing bad happens. Make the Normal Girl and the Badass Girl best friends whose skills compliment each others'.

    Build them then mess with them. :p
     
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  5. MrStoryTeller
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    MrStoryTeller Member

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    Thanks for the replies guys, very good advice :)
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why does badass girl have to clash with normal girl? The idea that women are always enemies is something of a fiction cliche; is it possible that you're falling into that cliche?

    Also, does there always have to be a love interest? If your genre is romance, I guess there does, but otherwise?
     
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  7. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Now I'm dying to read a romance novel without a love interest. (My best attempt)


    The towel softy grazed against my skin releasing a mixture of comfort, warmth, and... loneliness. Oh my God, so much loneliness.

    I need a cat.
     
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  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    My Loveless Romance

    By: Some Person

    Chapter One
    I love reading more than I love people.

    THE END!

    :p
     
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  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe you're suffering of the Bored-With-Your-Own-Sex syndrome and that's why writing boys feels boring? :D

    I kind of have the opposite problem, and my writer-husband has your problem. He's always coming up with all kinds of female characters, but is uninspired to write men, while I'm getting lazy with my very few female characters and have most fun crafting male characters: awkward and overweight teenagers, grumpy gay vets, borderline sociopathic rich-to-rags boys, drug addicted nerds... My roster of written and to-be-written male MCs resembles a mental spice rack right now.

    Maybe you could approach the male character through his story. What stories inspire you? Would it be a story of an underdog, or someone who's been abused by their parents or siblings, or someone who's seemingly breezing through life but struggles with a life-threatening illness? When you get excited about his story, I'd imagine the character will simply grow around it; his personality and his eyes and mouth through which you show and tell his story.

    Or you could always write a story with only female characters/MCs... ;)
     
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  10. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Interesting dilemma that I'm not immune to myself. I've written two books so far, both with interesting female characters. The male characters (both could be termed 'love interests') were either troubled with relationship issues (afraid of anything long-term) or were struggling with an impending divorce (not ready to move forward with someone new). The first guy was reasonably manly; the second was actually a weaker man and manipulated by my strong female lead.

    So, what to do? Mix it up! If you like writing the badass girl then write her BUT kill that milquetoast loser you keep tossing in. Make the guy equally badass. Make the two of them compete against each other while working towards the same goal. Have them 'neg' each other with banter. However, don't make the romantic side a cliche by having them "fall for each other despite their mutual dislike". That can happen, but you have to carefully craft it so it isn't obvious.

    I suspect that your problem may be that your characters don't really challenge each other. You have one strong one and others that just sort of wander around. Don't make it so easy on Badass Girl. A badass girl isn't likely to fall for a boring guy; she needs someone more badass than herself. That's biological attraction and why women fall for the bad boys. A good man but with a hard edge can win over those tough girls you like to write.
     
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