1. Holo
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    Holo Senior Member

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    Manic Pixie Dream Girls/Writing a Three Dimensional Heroine

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Holo, Dec 10, 2011.

    I need some help developing my main character and it all comes down to the difficulty of writing a female lead compared to a male lead. The problem is that there seem to be so many requirements of a heroine. She must have a personality that stands out, but not be a manic pixie dream girl. I think this term is used loosely nowadays (like Mary Sue) but it is so hard to write a fleshed out three dimensional female character. For one, they cannot be so strong that they overshadow everyone else because that is deemed "unrealistic" and "trying to hard". I must agree that girls who feel the need to assert themselves in every sentence are annoying. Especially when they can't back it up and end up being saved anyways.

    My particular problem is that my heroine is quirky. I will admit, she has some traits of mine. But I really hate stock characters and those that help the reader "step into their shoes" so to speak. A character is a character and should not be blank so the reader can somehow relate to them. But too often I see female characters with vibrant personalities who have an impact, whether it be negative or positive, on the people they interact with and are subsequently labeled MPDGs and hated. It seems any female character with a couple of quirks is one of these and I don't want my character to fall into this trope.

    So how do you go about creating a fleshed out character? Writing about males and females is different. For example, Harry Potter would have been different had Harry been a Mary. Not that it would be less entertaining or epic by any means, but obviously the main character would have acted differently in certain situations. So gender does have an impact. So when writing about a female protagonist, what things should be avoided and what should we strive for? How do you avoid the manic pixie dream girl or mary sue? How do you write in a love interest that isn't overshadowed by her?
     
  2. Ixloriana
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    Ixloriana Member

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    First off, there's nothing wrong with a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (in the right role.) I wouldn't compare her to a Mary Sue, which is always bad. Maria in The Sound of Music is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

    If you want to write a female character differently than a male character, just keep in mind her place in society. This really has more to do with how she's brought up than anything else. For example, if she belongs to a culture where women are subservient to men, keep in mind that this will likely be how she was raised. From that, just write her as you would a male character, seriously. She'll only be different if you treat her differently.

    There was a thread about "how to write male characters" too, and the general response was, "Write the character, not the gender."

    Also, as to writing a Mary-Sue:
     
  3. Gammer
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    Gammer Active Member

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    First off to me Manic Pixie Dream Girl does not equal Mary Sue if executed properly. A good way to make sure she isn't a Mary Sue character is to make sure you give her a good reason to be such a free spirit and have such disregard for the rules. Mary Jane in the original Spider-Man comics was a huge party girl and was a major contrast to the more "girl next door" Gwen Stacy. It was only until Peter Parker got to know Mary Jane did he realize that she only acted that way to forget about her issues with her father and abandonment.

    Also in "I Love You Beth Cooper" the MC Dennis finally gets to hang out with his long time crush Beth Cooper, who acts really crazy and has no regard for the rules that Dennis follows to a tee. It's only until the end of the night that Beth confesses that she envies Dennis for having a clear path for himself after high school and that she feels that high school was the best time of her life and now that it's over she's not sure what to do with herself.

    So as long as your Manic Pixie Dream Girl has a good reason for her free-spirited and irrational behavior and she can learn something from your MC also then you'll have a layered character and not just a character type.
     
  4. Yuri Strike
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    Yuri Strike Member

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    Now I want to add a MPDGuy who tags along the heroine like a fluffy lil' chick. Hooow cuuute!
     
  5. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    actually, the problem is that men and women aren't as different as some men make out and it's their own insecurities that make them see negatives. you think us women like listening to some overbearing wanker who thinks he's right about everything? yeah, whatever. i'm writing about a female heroine who is loosely based on me. not because i think i'm cool, but the topic is so close to me that my reactions are perfect for the character's. don't over feminise your heroine. don't have her preening and bullshit. unless she is a princess, but who wants to read about that? you can see them on reality tv.
    i've never heard of these dream pixies but i think you should start by walking away from these ridiculous labels. honestly, reading your attitude i think you're incapable of writing a realistic female. you have far too many hang ups about women/girls.
     
  6. Ixloriana
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    Ixloriana Member

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    Holo's profile says she's a chick. :/

    Holo (and the rest of us) is talking about tropes, not actual people. If you don't know what someone's talking about, go use your Google-fu or ask about it, don't go jumping to conclusions. You know what they say about what happens when you assume.

    "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" was coined by a film critic, and refers to a (usually female) character whose purpose in the story is to drag stuffy characters out of the dullness of everyday life and teach them to embrace life.
     
  7. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have the same problem when it comes to writing convincing female characters, I always find it's a lot easier to write male characters for some myserious reason. Maybe because I need a character that it as far from myself as possible to write them well, I need distance and when I write females it's too easy to start making connections to myself in what she does and feels. What I try to do is writing about characters that doesn't resemble me AT ALL! that makes it easier to picture them and to stay true to that character. besides it's really fun to step into the head of someone entirely different from oneself and find out what it would be like :)
     
  8. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Simple. Write a girl who's very different from you. Different culture, maybe have some kind of mental condition (eg autistic), different age, whatever works. I've met plenty of men who have more in common with me than many women do.
     
  9. Holo
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    Holo Senior Member

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    Like Ixloriana said, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a trope about female characters who are unrealistically quirky and tend to uplift a male counterpart. My problem is that my character is quirky and sometimes has a positive influence on the lives of people around her. However, I'm trying to keep her from being categorized as a MPDG because it is generally considered a negative portrayal of women. I am a woman so please check yourself before you jump to conclusions. The point of this board is to encourage and help other writers not bash them while jumping to conclusions. Men and women are very different in the way they think and act, so just taking a stereotypical male character and making it female is going to give you an unrealistic female character. I don't know what you mean by "overbearing wanker" since I never mentioned anything like that in my original post. If you've never heard of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope then you probably have not been doing your research when it comes to character tropes and the like. These labels are not ridiculous, they are used quite frequently. I don't have any hang ups on women since I am a woman and I think I am quite capable of writing a realistic female character. The fact that I am doing my research and trying to figure my character out says a lot more than creating an author avatar which is what you are doing. It takes a lot more creativity to create a character different from you than to just make someone who is just like you, which shows a complete lack of imagination. Next time do our research before you come and bash someone who is looking for some help with their work.
     
  10. Holo
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    Holo Senior Member

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    Like Ixloriana said, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a trope about female characters who are unrealistically quirky and tend to uplift a male counterpart. My problem is that my character is quirky and sometimes has a positive influence on the lives of people around her. However, I'm trying to keep her from being categorized as a MPDG because it is generally considered a negative portrayal of women. I am a woman so please check yourself before you jump to conclusions. The point of this board is to encourage and help other writers not bash them while jumping to conclusions. Men and women are very different in the way they think and act, so just taking a stereotypical male character and making it female is going to give you an unrealistic female character. I don't know what you mean by "overbearing wanker" since I never mentioned anything like that in my original post. If you've never heard of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope then you probably have not been doing your research when it comes to character tropes and the like. These labels are not ridiculous, they are used quite frequently. I don't have any hang ups on women since I am a woman and I think I am quite capable of writing a realistic female character. The fact that I am doing my research and trying to figure my character out says a lot more than creating an author avatar which is what you are doing. It takes a lot more creativity to create a character different from you than to just make someone who is just like you, which shows a complete lack of imagination. Next time do our research before you come and bash someone who is looking for some help with their work.
     

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