1. Marthix2016
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    Marthix2016 New Member

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    How to Describe & Portray my Female Lead?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Marthix2016, Aug 7, 2016.

    Hey all, I've been struggling on how to portray or describe my story's main character. I think describing her body type will serve as an extremely important part of the story but I would appreciate words/ideas of how to describe her. This may be a little odd to ask.

    My female lead is in an extremely good shape as she's been in war and has weathered many battle scars. She is around 25 or 26, young. Lots of upper body strength and in the mid section. The problem is I don't want to describe her to the point where my reader thinks she's absolutely 'loaded' or has big bulky arms, etc.. Describing a girl with lean muscular arms and abs would be good...she is more than 'toned'. Any ideas on how to describe a woman like this would be appreciated.

    Also, I've been debating about placing a sex scene in my story. Her partner would be another female and I just don't know where to go with this. I believe this scene would add to their relationship and make the story feel more believable...make their relationship feel real. I think that's partially why I'd like to know about how to describe a muscular body type without going too far with 'bulk' if you know what I mean. Any tips on writing a good sex scene between a couple of females would be appreciated too. Again, I would only use this sex scene if it only adds to the story. What ways could a sex scene add to the story from your perspective? My female lead lives a very troubled, stressful life and I believe her partner would provide her comfort, allow her to finally relax. Any ideas would be good. :)
     
  2. ShannonH
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    ShannonH Senior Member Supporter

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    Have you read the Expanse series? Check out the character of Bobbie Draper. Might be along the lines of what you're thinking .
     
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  3. Phil Mitchell
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    Phil Mitchell Active Member

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    Don't write a lesbian sex scene in this day and age if you're a male, you'll be slaughtered by the SJW's for sexualizing women and appropriating lesbianism.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not altogether understanding the question. Why do you need a detailed description? Couldn't her military background, and perhaps evidence of her strength through some action, allow the reader to come to their own conclusion?
     
  5. Sal Boxford
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    Sal Boxford Active Member

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    Only if you actually do fetishize lesbianism. For the sex-scene part of your question, take a nosey at this thread started by @Ziggy who is a male writer pondering the same question - and is encouraged to go for it.
     
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  6. Sapphire at Dawn
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    Sapphire at Dawn Member

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    Exactly what I was thinking. If she's wielding weapons, it goes without saying that she'll have impressive upper body strength. Even if she's using modern day weapons, the fact that she's been involved in combat will suggest that she's very fit and has a toned physique. You'd just be describing what is obvious.
     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    How would you describe a male character with a similar body type? Lean, wiry, defined, muscular but not bulky - these aren't gender-specific descriptors.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
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  8. Phil Mitchell
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    Phil Mitchell Active Member

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    That's in the eye of the beholder. Up to their sensitive feelings. They're likely to hear of this scene from a third party, then review it out of context of the rest of the book.
     
  9. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Marthix2016 I'd recommend the same thread Sal did: http://www.writingforums.org/threads/opposite-sexes-writing-same-sex-romance-fiction.147630/

    Might I ask why you're so sensitive about other people's not wanting to be objectified?

    One of the lead characters in my Doctor Who fanfic is a bisexual woman, and I can promise that the story became a thousand times better when I stopped using anti-LGBT stereotypes than it would've been if I'd kept them.
     
  10. Phil Mitchell
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    Phil Mitchell Active Member

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    No, you need to get there first. You need to ask if I am sensitive over this before asking a loaded question.

    I've made a statement about reality. If feminist frequency don't play the games they review and just steal the footage, if sites like the Mary Sue don't bother to contextualize with comics, what makes you think SJW's are going to bother doing that with novels?
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Bobbie is like 6 1/2 feet tall and 220 pounds or so - question: how bulky would she be? I always picture her as being a bulky person, but at that height, and with a lot of muscle, I suppose she could be fairly lean.
     
  12. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you should call her buff. Watching the female swimmers last night on the Olympics, that's what I would call them too.
     
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  13. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    That was the divers, you loser.

    Could we have a sweaty, and not exactly dumpy - but I am thinking aloud, more of a voluptuous lady, military chef character, wears saddlebags in right places, resolves mysteries through a recipe vocabulary. Like chickens - she is natural, not lean breasts pumped with water. You know the type.

    Then roll on a carpet, and read the book, douse oneself in a whole bag of flour to quell flames, lust, lesbian or otherwise. Regain self-control somehow, obviously, of the situation. I always do.

    Best probably to leave the book at work with my collection, avoid questions arising in the home chamber.
    kermit
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
  14. Romana
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    Romana Member

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    I've only ever read one sex scene that actually contributed to a characterization (and therefore the story) and it wasn't too detailed. You don't have to detail the sex to indicate that these two characters trust each other and help each other relax. Take the reader far enough to know what's going to happen, then "turn out the lights" so to speak, on the scene. Leave stuff to the imagination.
    I don't like sex scenes. I think they generally distract from the story.
    If you're showing them relaxing, having the other woman cradle the MC's head in her lap or give her a massage or just talk about irrelevant stuff would be a poignant scene than sex, for me.

    From what you've described above, I'm picturing your MC as looking like a female UFC, Ronda Rousey type woman.
    That seems fit to me. That seems like a warrior to me. That doesn't seem "bulky" to me. The phrase "well-defined muscles" along with descriptions of how muscles tense, flex, or work will translate that she doesn't look like a bodybuilder, just someone who is very strong
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
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  15. Mikmaxs
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    Mikmaxs Active Member

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    I'd say, rather than describing her directly, just put her in a situation that implies what you want. Demonstrate her strength and physicality. You can mention little details to make things clearer, (For example, demonstrate that she's strong, but use description to clarify that she's not a bodybuilder.)

    As for the sex scene, I'd steal a page from Jim Butcher's playbook and only include it on-screen if it contains plot important details. Otherwise, start the scene, (Or heavily imply that it's about to start,) then politely fade to black when they start going at it. It gives the relationship depth that you want, without appearing to fetishize their relationship. (Jim Butcher, in his Dresden Files series, only shows one full sex scene that I can recall, and it's because he needs the audience to remember it a couple books later when his half-vampire girlfriend shows up with a daughter.)
    (Uh... Spoilers.)

    Then again... In my opinion, as long as it's not done purely for the purpose of exploiting lesbianism, there's nothing wrong with including a sex scene just because you want there to be a hot sex scene in your book. Novels and movies include action scenes just 'Because they're cool' all the time. Gratuitous sex and gratuitous action aren't exactly the same, but they're quite similar. They can both appear to be exploitative if done poorly, but can also be pretty great if you pull them off.
     
  16. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Mikmaxs I personally would've used spoiler tags ;) but yes, fading to black should work (unless you're explicit with your straight couples).
     
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  17. Mikmaxs
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    Mikmaxs Active Member

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    The book where we find out about the baby is six years old. The book with the sex scene is, like, a decade. I think we've passed the statue of limitations.
    (The statue of limitations, by the way, is a limestone sculpture which is in book 5, so by the time we get to book 12 which contains the sex scene, it's been passed for a long time.)
     
  18. Phil Mitchell
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    Phil Mitchell Active Member

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    There's big misconception that Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm are lean because they're strong or fit. That's not the reason. They were lean because they had to diet down to make contest weight. Now if anyone doubts the severity of this dieting, I point you to the case of Dada 5000 who collapsed in the ring and almost died from being depleted. And they're both on drugs. Practically everyone in MMA is. That's the problem with writers. They look to people who use the latest in sports technology and apply that to characters who don't have an entire team of pharmacists, dieticians and trainers behind them. This perpetuates a warped body image and eating disorder mentality.

    As far as the sex scene goes here's the deal. It's pretty offensive to suggest that the stress and mental damage of war can relieved with sex. That's something to be wary of. The idea that the partner makes her relax? Such things have to start from within herself. The partner can support that process, but can't be the thing that allows her to relax. Partners are not crutches. And they aren't these perfectly understanding angels that make all our problems go away. They're just people, with their own flaws, problems and lives.
     
  19. Mikmaxs
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    Mikmaxs Active Member

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    I could be wrong, but his pitch for the sex scene didn't sound at all like this to me. It sounded like he wanted the partner as someone who could provide emotional support, (as you said, supporting a process that comes from within,) and the sex scene would simply be there to help establish that their relationship is fairly strong.
     
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  20. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    For someone accusing "social justice warriors" of getting offended too easily, you really seem to be searching hard for things that are "pretty offensive".
     
  21. Romana
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    I'd never thought about them having to diet to make contest weight! I don't follow or know anything about MMA, so that's interesting to note!
    Probably better women to look at as far as what someone really fit looks like would be to look at the people who do Ninja Warrior or Battlefrog-like obstacle courses. Of course some of them have unhealthy habits, but they're more likely to be just healthy, fit and strong because of the anonymity of their sport, and the fact that they do those things for themselves, not for the money or fame.
     
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  22. Phil Mitchell
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    Phil Mitchell Active Member

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    This is the line that rings alarm bells:
    What ways could a sex scene add to the story from your perspective?
    My female lead lives a very troubled, stressful life and I believe her partner would provide her comfort, allow her to finally relax

    It sounds to me like he's attempting to answer his own question there. The sex scene would add the comfort of a partner allowing her to finally relax. Implying she was unable to before the partner comforted her.
     
  23. Phil Mitchell
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    Phil Mitchell Active Member

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    What, you think I'm personally offended by what he's written here? What the hell's the matter with you? I'm talking about the audience.
     
  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You stated very plainly, above, that it was offensive to suggest the stress and mental damage of war could be relieved by stress. If you're suggesting that part of the audience might find that offensive rather than yourself, you should state your position more clearly. Further, you come across at being offended by BayView's observation, which is something that tends to add credence to her post rather than detract from it.

    @Marthix2016 sounds like maybe your character is more wiry - a thin, lean build with muscles. I wouldn't worry too much about the sex scene. You can use it or not to further characterize your characters and the relationship between them. There's no wrong answer to this, just what you feel is appropriate and useful in terms of how you want to characterize them.
     
  25. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is something that could be executed poorly, but as long as it's clear that the emotional support that she gets from her girlfriend is what's helping her - rather than just the status of "being in a relationship" and/or any sex they have - then there's probably not going to be a problem.

    People need people. Some of us less than others, but getting through the stress in your life by your own personal strength and by the support you get from friends/family/lovers... is generally more effective than just one or the other.
     

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