1. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    Help with my female character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by thabear637, Aug 13, 2009.

    Hello..I hope what I'm about to say doesn't sound very sexist..I know I dont' mean it to be..I guess if it does I will need to rethink how I want to impilment this.

    I am in the midst of writing a fantasy novel and I am trying to write some more depth on one of my characters.

    Some information on her..
    Commander of the resistance army
    Raised by a single father (who happened to be a military general) so she has some tom-boy qualities.
    She's very strict..but mostly for show. She never lets anyone see her down or her being weak etc.

    My problem is I want to write a chapter from her perspective to give the reader a better understanding of who she is. I want her to do some things on her own that she wouldn't be doing if the rest of her army was there..something that makes her feel more..feminine. This is pretty important to the story.

    I'm just trying to think of what things someone like her could do to make her feel more feminine..or atleast show signs that she isn't nearly as tough on the inside as she is on the outside. I'm not trying to say that feminine = weak..they are completely different. But they are both opposite of how she acts in front of her Army.

    Some things I am thinking about:
    -Walking alone in the woods crying (about a very troubled and sad life she had..missing her father/sister etc)
    -Spending time with the other women in the camp who are mostly doing things like cooking/sewing etc...not that the cooking will make her feel feminine but possibly the comradery(sp?) of other women will.

    Any other ideas out there? (perhaps from some females?)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Consider Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager. For recreation, she enacts Victorian romances in the holodeck. Another SF refernce would be Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5. I'm not much of a devotee of military fiction, but I'm sure there are plenty of role models you could choose from in that genre.
     
  3. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could draw her 2 ways. She could be hiding her inner-girly on the battlefield but then off of the battlefield do the whole emotional thing in the woods and doing cooking/sewing type stuff. Or you could draw her as a woman in conflict. Like she doesn't fit in with the domestic or girly stuff that the women are doing or know how to talk about the stuff they like to talk about, but at the same time she doesn't fit in with the guys. It could be her just being uncomfortable and self-conscious with the women in the camp. But then she could just be thrilled with having a hot bath, maybe she even lights some candles, or just being able to get herself clean, her hair washed. That could be the feminine side of her.
     
  4. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As much as I hate David Weber, the central character in his military SF Honor series is a female commander named Honor Harrington. She's designed to be a positive and strong female role model, but if you ask me she's Weber's dream girl in a male-dominated fantasy. It's not hard to find his stuff, its takes up lots of shelf space in most bookstores.:mad:
     
  5. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If she has a feminine side, let it show in everything she does while being a strong leader. Having a seperate chapter where the commander is sowing gowns might seem comical at best? Why would a leader even do something this menial?

    If she's been raised to be a strong leader, why would she run off to a forest to sob? That sounds like something a spoiled princess would do.

    Femininity is not an activity. It's a gender-labeled mindset. Show her femininity from the inside, not by having her file her nails between battles. Then she becomes a caricature.

    If you know and understand this woman you're writing about, her femininity should show through her choice of words in dialogue, her mannerisms and her thoughts (if writing perspective allows). A female leader (generalising crudely here) might show a greater concern for the emotional well-being of people around her and reflect more on the relationship between them, than a male counterpart. Being sensitive, reflective and tentative are generally considered feminine traits. But don't overdo it; let the character handle it herself, or she will become a charicature.

    It's easier said than done... My own female co-lead had a very long developement where she went from one extreme to the other and eventually settled somewhere inbetween. Now my problem is that she's got her own life and tend to not do what I want her to.
     
  6. Hwkngrl412
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    Hwkngrl412 New Member

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    Totally agree with this. Showing a facet in a character doesn't have to be a whole big deal, especially if it is a secret weakness. Sometimes a couple paragraphs are all you need. She's combing her hair in the morning, puts in a decorative hair comb and looks at herself for a second, then discards it in favor of a militaristic bun. That could only take three or four paragraphs, and there you have a tiny analogy for her entire character. If femininity is something she does not want to show, then don't have her show it. Keep it secret, private, intimate, and let that lead where it will.
    Good luck!
     
  7. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    As a female who generally runs with the males (as female geeks are rare in my part of town), the major difference between myself and my friends is that I geek out over cute things. I can't spot a stuffed animal without making friends with it, for example.

    So she might have more 'soft spots' than her male counterparts.

    But really, if she was raised as a tomboy, why should she have any sterotypical 'feminine' qualities at all? There are, of course, physical differences (less muscle bulk, lower center of gravity, 'that time of the month') but a lot of feminine qualities are cultural, and even differ from culture to culture.
     
  8. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    She could play the piano or violin. She could paint sexy men and elegant women in dresses. Maybe she wears dresses while playing the piano, or when not around people in general. She wears feminine clothes to sleep in.

    She sees the beauty and symbolism in a rainbow or a waterfall.

    She giggles upon receiving a dozen roses. Of course, only when alone.
     
  9. BP0
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    BP0 New Member

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    It depends on if you want characters to know, or the reader to know. If you want the reader to know that she's a more sensitive type, I'd do a flashback. Usually people that come across as tough have a flawed, emotional background. This would show a bit of vulnerability.
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Margaret Huolihan, despite being head nurse in a war zone, still takes the time to dye her hair blonde, and othe very girlie things with her hair.
     
  11. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's not feminine, it's sentimental.
     
  12. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Horus, we could do a quick vote, but from my experience, most men don't see the beauty and symbolism in a rainbow, that it might represent love or creation. If a macho male character stopped to comment on the beauty of a rainbow . . .
     
  13. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Then he would be sentimental, which would be odd for a guy like him. It's still being sentimental though, not feminine.

    In the movie Gladiator, where Russel Crowe smiles at the bird on the branch in the forest, before the battle with the germanic, he's not being feminine, he's being sentimental.

    How this relates to the topic: Having a Little House On The Prairie moment won't make the character seem more feminine, and there's a big danger of it becoming cheesy instead.
     
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  14. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    Have her do the dishes in the mess hall.
     

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