1. Blazewind
    Offline

    Blazewind New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2010
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0

    Too many female characters?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Blazewind, Apr 19, 2010.

    I am writing a science fiction novel, and it seems the characters ended up mostly all female. The book is written from the points of view of both humans, and the alien race that plays a huge part in the plot. For the humans, it was the plan to have mostly females as it follows four generations of a family, all of which are women. But I ended up so far writing almost all of the alien characters as woman as well. There are a few men that play important roles the story line and quite a few very minor male characters, but still the females in the book do well out number the males. Now I know this is fine and likely even the best way to do it in certain styles of writing... but in Sci-fi? Hopefully I will be able to get some opinions on this. Do you personally think it's ok to have a science fiction story, (these types of books tend to be read from what I understand by more men than women)? What would you say is a good ratio of males to females among the main and supporting characters? If more balance is needed, can you suggest the best way to fix my error? I was confidant with my book so far, at first, but recently I have begun to question whether it will turn out a bit awkward.

    Thanks for any advice. :)
     
  2. lucifer1101
    Offline

    lucifer1101 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    I would say let someone else take a quick peek at something you have written and aske them how they feel about it.

    From what I have read here over the last couple of days, it has opened my eyes up that it isnt a big problem with ideas, its the writing that makes it super.

    If you can write something that sounds boring, but when someone reads it and they think it is fantastic then you should go with it.

    Is there some way to explain why there are so many females? Maybe they are a group who enjoy being more dominent then the men or maybe they just get along better, they could be well trained or the culture of thier people may affect it in some way. When it comes down to it you are God, make what you believe.
     
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    There is no inherent problem in a female-dominated novel, and you will probably see many of these now.

    However, if it's because you aren't comfortable writing male characters, I'd recommend addressing that, perhaps with some short stories with a male protagonist and other male characters. It's too big a restriction to live with as a writer.
     
  4. Halcyon
    Offline

    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    England
    I actually think that the female dominated nature of the story may be a selling point. It does make it unusual, so I don't see it as a huge problem.

    But as Cogito said, if you have avoided males because of a discomfort with creating male characters, then that is not likely to stand your writing in good stead in the longer run, and you need to work on that aspect.
     
  5. TeabagSalad
    Offline

    TeabagSalad Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    London
    Hi,

    As Halcyon said I think that the female dominated nature of your story could make it unusual and be a selling point.

    Cogito makes a good point about trying to write a few short stories with male main characters.

    What you could also do is to take a look at a few of your minor characters and see if their gender makes much of a difference to the story. Minor characters who require little description could easily be transfered between genders. You might also want to look at the idea of some of your main human characters have a husband, brother or other male partner who helps them - making them more of a team rather than a just a female character. This would mean that you could focus on the female character but introduce discussion with her male companion to redress the balance (if you really are that worried about it).

    Kind Regards,

    Ian
     
  6. Gingerbiscuit
    Offline

    Gingerbiscuit Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Messages:
    150
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Melton Mowbray in Merry old England
    Mary Shelly's Frankenstein only had one female character mentioned. (Maybe two, not 100% on this) but it didn't seem strange in an androcentric society. Nowadays the pendulum has swung almost entirely the other way and so I don't think there is anything strange or awkward about having mostly females in your novel.
     
  7. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,893
    Likes Received:
    10,079
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I say femme it up!

    I say write female heroes who save fellahs' in distress from the evil claws of the baddies.

    I say why not?

    A genre dominated by Biff Bronsons with swaggering good looks and devil may care attitudes concerning their presumed ownership of everything in the universe to include the green girl hottie could use a good turn around.

    ;)

    Yeah. That's what I say.
     
  8. Blazewind
    Offline

    Blazewind New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2010
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    I really do see your point on that issue. However I have written short stories before (this is my first novel) with male protagonists. I can write male characters, but it just happens that in this particular plot there are mostly females.

    There are a few males in it though that the females have discussions and interactions with and things. Also, because the book is going to, by the time it;s finished, be written from the viewpoints on four generations, each generation's story will have some of it's own characters. There is a male character that is going to carry a good part of the story later on. It's interesting to hear that a female dominated book could actually be a selling point, due to being different though. I had never really thought of that. :D
     
  9. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    so, were they cloned?... or is this an all-female species that reproduces parthenogenetically, like the recently discovered Mycocepurus smithii ant, in south america?

    as for your story, i say go ahead and write it the way you want... if it's well-written and tells a good tale, few will care what gender the characters are... and i suspect many women will buy the book just because of it...
     
  10. Blazewind
    Offline

    Blazewind New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2010
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    LOL, the four generations of woman are from the human side of the story. Honestly though I really like that concept for an alien species. That's something similar to an idea I was kicking around for a race in another plot I've been brainstorming for another books I want to try writing one day.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    ...still leaves me wondering how a family can be all women, with no sperm donors, since you said:

     
  12. black-radish
    Offline

    black-radish Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2010
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Netherlands
    I never read a book or seen a movie and worried about how many men/women are in it. Try not to worry about such details, it's not really relevant to how you experiance the book when you read it, I think! And there's nothing wrong with breaking the circle of the male-dominated sci-fi world!

    Good luck, have fun and happy writing! :D

    ~ Lola
     
  13. Evil Flamingo
    Offline

    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Messages:
    3,298
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Actually I can only think of one example of this, which was the original version of the movie Silent Hill, which was quite good and almost completely lacking men. When you add the husband and some others, it made it better though. And it had a spectacular ending due to that. =/

    SO I guess I'm no help, but it can go either way when lacking a gender.
     
  14. HeinleinFan
    Offline

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    33
    There's nothing wrong with having mostly female main characters. It so happens that right now, most movies and books have a strong bias toward many male characters and few or token female characters. That doesn't mean such should be the "goal" or the "ideal," and it doesn't mean you should change your story's world just to blend in with the crowd.

    As for the effects ... well. Most likely, a few male readers will decline to read it. But a few female readers will hear about it from friends who will say "This is awesome! It actually has strong women leads!" and in the end, you'll come out ahead.

    Note: This really does happen - some of my friends at the MITSFS have recommended books to me partly because the author does female leads well. And this is why The Lies of Locke Lamora will live on as the truly awesome fantasy book that it is: women are present in all levels of society, from the sailors on the docks to the police to the thieves' gang. (The book is awesome aside from that, also.)
     
  15. Lydia
    Offline

    Lydia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,915
    Likes Received:
    233
    Location:
    Somewhere out there.
    Well I've read books containing only men, and it didn't bother me, so I don't see why you couldn't do one with mainly females. :)
     
  16. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    It's really unfortunate that these gender issues still exist, in my opinion, why we should be worried about it being a problem if the ratios are not even or having certain genders in certain roles. Since it has nothing to do with hesitation to write male characters, then you were probably making logical choices for the characters.
     
  17. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    (Hi Rei - good to see you)

    There's an article in the May/June 2010 issue of Writer's Digest that may be of interest to anyone who does have trouble writing characters of the opposite gender. It's titled He Said/She Said, and deals not only with gender considerations in dialogue, but in characterization in general.

    I personally don't buy into the gender stereotypes a la Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, but it's still useful to view it as a spectrum that your characters of either gender will lie somewhere upon for certain characteristics.
     
  18. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,970
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I'm similarly wondering what happened to all the men. While there's nothing wrong with mostly female characters, I think that the premise for disposing of all of the fathers and brothers in those four generations will need to make sense, or it will feel like a deliberate device, and that may be distracting.

    Four generations of women having daughters is an interesting phenomenon, but four generations of only daughters, _and_ four generations of fathers that die young, or however they're gotten rid of, starts to feel like too much coincidence.

    ChickenFreak
     
  19. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    The men undoubtedly exist, even if they aren't in the story. Perhaps in the company of strong women, the men all headed for the hills in short order. Or the women were never the marryin' kind.
     
  20. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    guesses are ok, but i'd still like an answer from the writer/op, if still around, as i can only envision some sort of single-gender cloning to have four generations of only women...
     

Share This Page