1. JillOfHearts
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    JillOfHearts Member

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    Too Many Females

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by JillOfHearts, Dec 6, 2011.

    I'm new here!
    I'm in the middle of planning a novel, and I have realised that I have a lot more females than males. Actually,I just generally have too many characters.
    It is a fantasy, in a world where females are dominant. I am female myself, but I have no problems writing males.
    So what I want to ask is:
    What is the best way to figure out which characters are needed and which aren't?
    What is a good balance between male and female?
    Would it be okay to make a female character male? They would be pretty much the same, just a different gender.
     
  2. topeka sal
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    topeka sal Senior Member

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    Hi Jill.

    I don't think you necessarily need to "balance" male and female characters. It all depends on the needs of your particular plot. For instance, I've read many a war story/novel that had few to no women in them. Maybe a female character appears in a flashback, but that's it. You say that your world is one where women are dominant. That implies to me that there must be plenty of men around for them to dominate, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to have many or any fully developed male characters. Maybe they're for the most part drones and the story takes place among the women. Or, maybe there's an uprising among them, in which case you may decide you need to tell the stories of some of your male characters in greater depth. How do they interact with the women? What's important? Again, it all depends on your plot.

    As to the presto-changeo of female to male, I don't think it's as simple as that. Men and women ARE different (whether by nature or culture I can't say... probably a bit of both). Clearly in your world culture plays an important role that would necessitate difference. Also, I see no reason to make the change for the sake of balance. Only do so if the plot needs this character male.

    Welcome to the board!
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I worry about what characters I need when the need arises for them. If I had a 'list', then I'd start thinking, "Oh, I need to stick this gal in somewhere, and this guy's been waiting forever!". So when you need a character, make one, and of whichever gender works for that part. Until then, who cares?
     
  4. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    Stick with the ladies, the more the merrier. Seriously, there is no rule saying you have to have gender equality with your characters, many stories do not. As Shadowwalker said, one doesn't need to create a host of characters until there is a need. When the need for a new character arises, who they are will often reveal itself organically; just go with it.
     
  5. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    You say the females are dominant in the story, so how can there be too many of them? If you think about it, there are usually far too many men in stories (especially fantasy stories). Having lots of women would be a nice change. And second, just because you have a lot of women in the story, it doesn't mean there aren't any men in the world. There's a big difference there. Even in a world where men are dominant, you can have a story with an all-female cast. The bottom line is I care far more about the story and characters than what gender they are. :)
     
  6. Allan Paas
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    Allan Paas Contributing Member

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    As females are dominant, why not have more of them than males? More females seems like what the story is about, since they are the dominant ones.
    As you go further with your story you should see more clearly what is redundant and what is not.

    Just wondering. You say there are more females, does that mean they share males? The men must be in paradise...
     
  7. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I see no need to balance the numbers when it's a female dominated society. In China men are seen as superior and the men largely outnumber the women now because a lot of women would choose to abort their baby girls or give them up for adoption. So it would make sense in a society where the opposite is true that something similar would happen.

    As for what characters are needed or not needed that relies upon whether or not they have a purpose. If they're just sort of decoration in the background there's really no need for them to be a developed character. If they're not moving the plot forward or moving the MC forward there is no point to them being there. That's my opinion.
     
  8. Kesteven
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    Kesteven Member

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    I agree with the consensus, if the problem was too many men it would be culturally sensitive to aim for more of a balance, but in the absence of that motivation it's fine to use whatever gender distribution you feel supports the story best. Note though that there's no reason to assume a story set in a female-dominated society would have more females - a lot of the time the truly interesting story is told from the viewpoint of the oppressed.

    Personally I sometimes find myself with an excess of females but my reasons are different - I just find them more compelling as characters, probably (if I'm honest) because I find them more attractive. I do wonder if that's a legitimate reason, but I've decided as long as it doesn't adversely affect the quality of my writing, it's fine.

    As for making female characters male, yes, I think that and the opposite are perfectly acceptable, and often a good way to challenge assumptions about them you might have subconsciously formed. But you do have to take the setting into account - hormonal differences and whatever aside, if the culture has any kind of gender imbalance then that could certainly affect how certain traits are expressed. A fiery, rumbustious character in a period setting for instance is likely to have faced very different challenges in their life depending on sex, which might affect other areas of behaviour.

    Besides, even if you try to make it a straight flip without changing anything, you're likely to let your sexual assumptions seep in by accident in how you write the character, so in most cases you'll adjust for sexual differences naturally.
     
  9. Thom
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    Thom Member

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    If it's a futuristic setting, it could be that a disease, or some off-shoot of unnatural selection has decimated the male population.

    A story idea I have, has a race entirely made up of women. Not because they don't need men, but the alien species that subjugated their race killed off all the men in order to remove the possibility of rebellion. Of course, that exposes a blind spot in the alien's way of thinking, as over the centuries these women, and their alien-created decedents, found a way to reproduce without the alien's knowledge or control.


    And then they go to Earth with the warning that the aliens have their sights now on humanity...
     
  10. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    - What is the best way to figure out which characters are needed and which aren't?
    Every plot has at least one main character, there could be two or three, but don't go over board and over whelm yourself with a stupid number; if there are more then one main characters,they could be siblings, lovers, best/good friends or rivials, maybe even just complete strangers or aquantencies that got through together. Filter these out, then filter any important characters out. If the character is apart of a team or travelling in a group, filter out these characters; if the same pub/shop/ship etc is features frequantly, filter the primary characters out for that place - the waiter/waitress that serves them the places owner. Basically what someone said above, keep those that you know have a real purpose in your story.

    - What is a good balance between male and female?
    You don't need a balance between male and female characters, I can't think of one that does. An anime I watch as a child, were about 5 (6 later on) female characters that were saving Earth from various bad guys (and gals).The evil people kept changing and all weren't male. There was only on male that helped them frequently. Other animes I've seen have had primarily male characters. The book that I'm currently reading has primarily male characters. So no balance is needed.

    - Would it be okay to make a female character male? They would be pretty much the same, just a different gender.
    It's not necasary, but if you need to and really want to, then I don't see why you can't! You may need to twick who they are and there background, but I don't see any problem with it! Some man can be very femine and, depending on their fashion sense, could be mistaken for a woman and vis-vurse with females (chest size would be a facter for them as well). Or maybe this is just my believe... Maybe I've watch to many cartoons!
     
  11. Pink-Angel-1992
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    - What is the best way to figure out which characters are needed and which aren't?
    Every plot has at least one main character, there could be two or three, but don't go over board and over whelm yourself with a stupid number; if there are more then one main characters,they could be siblings, lovers, best/good friends or rivials, maybe even just complete strangers or aquantencies that got through together. Filter these out, then filter any important characters out. If the character is apart of a team or travelling in a group, filter out these characters; if the same pub/shop/ship etc is features frequantly, filter the primary characters out for that place - the waiter/waitress that serves them the places owner. Basically what someone said above, keep those that you know have a real purpose in your story.

    - What is a good balance between male and female?
    You don't need a balance between male and female characters, I can't think of one that does. An anime I watch as a child, were about 5 (6 later on) female characters that were saving Earth from various bad guys (and gals).The evil people kept changing and all weren't male. There was only on male that helped them frequently. Other animes I've seen have had primarily male characters. The book that I'm currently reading has primarily male characters. So no balance is needed.

    - Would it be okay to make a female character male? They would be pretty much the same, just a different gender.
    It's not necasary, but if you need to and really want to, then I don't see why you can't! You may need to twick who they are and there background, but I don't see any problem with it! Some man can be very femine and, depending on their fashion sense, could be mistaken for a woman and vis-vurse with females (chest size would be a facter for them as well). Or maybe this is just my believe... Maybe I've watch to many cartoons!
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...then cut it down to only those that the story calls for... don't draw up a list before you start writing, since you can't tell who's going to be needed, other than the protag and antag... just let the other characters appear as the story unfolds...
    ...by doing what i said above...

    ...there isn't any such thing... each story has its own needs re gender of characters...

    ...of course it's 'ok' as there's no reason you can't do that... but why would you?... see above...
     
  13. ukuleleman
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    ukuleleman Member

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    Gender does bring with it some attributes but it is not a determining factor in a story if the characters are compelling. The only point to where there are too many females is if there are absolutely no males in existence, then it can't work or the sustainability of such existence would be questionable. Point- gender shouldn't matter as much as the characters themselves.
     
  14. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Don't worry about having more Females than Males. It's no big deal, if you want alot of Female characters then don't change anything. I have no problem with reading books with lots of female characters, i actually think they need more book like that out there anyway.
     
  15. Froggy
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    Froggy Member

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    Of course you need 55% females, 20% should be black, 1.5% chinese, 0.3% redheads etc etc etc

    it doesn't work that way (and they're fictitious statistics anyways...)

    Switch a female to a male, and suddenly they're not allowed weapons anymore (or become an embarrassing love interest, etc)
    If a character contributes to the story, by all means, include them. if they are just relations or acquaintances, that appear, but have nothing to do with the plot, scrap 'em.
     
  16. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Oddly enough I ran into a similar problem this week (and I'm a guy). About a week ago after watching The Aphrodite Inheritence I started a new book and am 25k in. The problem is that it's based on the Greek Gods, and women there seem to outnumber men by two to one or more. And I can't really change their sexes. Still I think you just have to work with what you've got - the story dictates the gender balance. (And Mars would probably be very upset if I made him a her!)

    Cheers.
     
  17. need to write
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    need to write Member

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    personaly i dont see a need for a gender balance though if you are trying to thin the cast the first question i would ask myself is are there any characters that dont have a distinctive personality/ generic character if so can there part be handled by a main character passing through never have characters hanging round with nothing more then a name (or not as the case maybe) if you can help it all it leads to is critics wondering why the hell they were there
     
  18. UnknownBearing
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    UnknownBearing Contributing Member

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    There's no such thing as too many characters of any kind. There's no such thing as too many characters. There's only spending a disproportionate amount of time on characters who have little impact on your story.
     
  19. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    As long as they are not the same female characters with different names then it sounds fine. Like other posters have said, for years all the characters in books were pretty much male - unless they needed a romantic figure. In fact I read an article in the Guardian the other day where one of the writers flipped the genders of characters from classics - to create new novels. Her one complaint was 'there are too many women!'
     
  20. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    In my eyes, theres no such thing as too many females in a story. I actually prefer having a strong female lead in a storyline.
     

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