1. Loudwolf442
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    Loudwolf442 New Member

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    Tough Female character?!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Loudwolf442, Jul 31, 2013.

    How can I make a female character tough and "action ready" while still making her femine? I don't want the character to be manly but, I still want her to be a main part in the action and tougher scenes.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Give her cleverness over braun.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think a woman can posses a great deal of braun while remaining feminine and very much... woman. I just happen to be watching Alien3 at the moment. Ripley is one of the most awesome female characters out there. And from the second film in the franchise, the character of Vazquez... wow! :) And this from a gay guy. The two women are deeply interesting to me because they eschew archetype and are still decidedly female.
     
  4. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Depends largely on what you mean by tough. Action ready implies, to me, that you're looking for a physically capable character, i.e. someone who can handle herself in a tussle. I would advise against the Resident Evil formula (make her look like a glamour model, skin and bones, and come up with some weird reason why she's still physically stronger than most men). Instead, it'd be better and more original to write a character who is physically closer to high level athletes. There are so few muscular / athletic women in fiction and, for the life of me, I don't understand why: what's so scary about physically strong women? Saying they're creepy or repulsive is tantamount to saying the same thing about blacks, jews, gingers etc.
    Anyway, she doesn't have to be 200lbs of pure muscle, but fact is, strength plays a big part (not the biggest, but big nonetheless) in fighting. Height helps as well, so if she's a bit taller than average and has a build like pro or semi-pro athletes, it's credible that she truly can kick ass, even literally. Think Gina Carano, Lucy Lawless (Xena's fight scenes were pure fantasy, but she was tall and athletic, so if the coreographies had been less silly, it would've been quite realistic that she'd wipe the floor with men and women alike), even that chick from Alias. Oh, and Ronda Rousey, of course, although she's short, but she's got the build of a fighter yet doesn't look as manly as Christiane Santos.

    Another possible route is to make her skilled with weapons. Knives and especially guns are the great equalizers and even a 100lbs twig of a girl can put down the toughest and biggest of men with a headshot.

    Add to either of the two routes (physical strength vs. weapons skills) a can do -mentality, a strong will, the mental capacity to hurt others, a drive to improve herself, and you got a pretty complete package. Intellect is good, but it doesn't have to be book smarts (although it can be, think Samantha Carter from Stargåte SG-1), not even street smarts (although, again, it can be, like with the above-mentioned Ellen Ripley), but wisdom. She doesn't need to be Yoda; often a character ends up making fairly wise decisions as long as she's got a good heart and the courage to struggle against adversity even when facing overwhelming odds, knowing she's going to lose.

    I'd look for a happy medium because it makes the character very versatile: not Cyborg Santos, but still physically tough (her build closer to a sprinter than a marathon runner), relentless will, interest in weapons, and sharp wit. Something like that. There's a myriad of possible combinations and they can all be made to work as long as you have a clear idea in your mind about what you want to do with her, what do you want to say through her: why does she exist?

    This isn't the way, just a way, yet one I've found plenty useful and pretty easy to work with because it gives you so many options and the freedom to do more with the character than with someone who's specialized in just one thing (extreme examples: a dumb brute vs. a bony book worm).

    Btw, remember to still give her some faults so you don't end up with a character who's too perfect. E.g, she could be ugly, a little slow (mentally), she might have a snappy, aggressive personality, she might have some chronic ailment that sometimes hinders her capabilities (chronic injuries / pains or some disease that's usually in remission, but sometimes comes back and saps at her energy) etc. etc. You know, things that make her human.
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Ripley using that giant robot is an example of clever braun over actual braun. You know I didn't mean to suggest women were weak fragile things. I like when a female character can give a good kick to the balls and get a man down on the ground and handcuffed. ;)

    But sometimes it's really overdone and becomes a tad too phony. Angelina Jolie in the movie Salt is an excellent example of female braun done right.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe I have a mild fetish facet somewhere in my psyche in need of acknowledgment. :D When I watch ALIENS I just wait for the part where the shizzle hits the fizzle and Vazquez yells out, "Let's rock!!"

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  7. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    By most people's standards, willfully joining a battle is an intrinsically masculine thing to do. But that doesn't mean the only way to fight is to "fight like a man." There are multiple ways to win a fight or survive an action-packed encounter; one need not be masculine to come out on top.

    Once you grasp the fundamental concept that "masculine" and "feminine" have (almost) nothing to do with being biologically male or female, you can begin to think of approaches that don't boil down to "Hulk smaaaash!" and develop more complex, meaningful characters, be they man, woman, or child.

    For example, not every man fights like a man. Odysseus is a classical example of a male protagonist who didn't hack and slash his way through every encounter. And not every female fights like a girly-girl. See Wreybies post above, LOL. Each character is different. Their gender is just one piece of the pie. The size and importance of that piece varies from character to character.

    It all boils down to character development. Instead of asking "how would a woman handle this fight" ask "how would this character handle this fight." Personalize it. What is her fighting style? Is she fast? Is she strong? Is she smart? Is she skilled? Is she fearless? Is she stealthy? Is she resourceful? Is she opportunistic? Why is she fighting at all? What won't she do to her enemies? Will she throw sand in their eyes? WIll she kick them in the balls? Will she slit throats and snap necks, if given the chance? What is she physically/emotionally/morally capable of and how far into those capabilities is she willing to go to win? Does she even want to win, or just survive?

    Forget she's a woman for a moment and treat her as a person... ummm, unless she's the type of person who is hyper-conscious about her femininity, in which case her gender is engrained into her personality. But that raises the question of why she's strutting onto the battlefield in the first place, doesn't it? Oh well, I'm a sucker for characters who are walking contradictions, so long as it's within reason. Pick apart her brain, figure out what makes her tick, and you'll find the answer(s) to your question.
     
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  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It will be difficult as long as you need to ask that question.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but there's a world view revealed by that question that isn't very conducive to writing such a character.
     
  9. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Which is ironic because the role was written as a male character.

    As James Cameron once said: 'I do think Hollywood movies get it wrong when they show women in action roles - they basically make them men. Or else they make them into superheroes in shiny black suits, which is just not as interesting.'
     
  10. The Peanut Monster
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    The Peanut Monster Senior Member

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    Perhaps the OP is trying to overcome their world view! We all have to start somewhere.

    "Power" comes in a variety of forms, and I think strong characters (female and male) can use power in a variety of ways. The subtle influencer, the action hero(ine), the leader figure, the emotive force (or propagandist), the saviour, mentor, etc, etc. If your female character is involved in an action setting (i.e. combat, etc), then you should draw on other literary examples (in books and movies) to inform how your female character might display her power in that context. Characters are multi-dimensional (like real people) and so you can make both men and women hard and soft in different contexts if that is the feel you are going for.
     
  11. NeonFraction
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    NeonFraction Member

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    If you want a feminine character that is strong, make a feminine character that is strong. Feminine and strong are two completely different characteristics, much like 'tall and nice'. I am very feminine, (cooking, makeup, clothes, girly and often soft spoken) but I still enjoy kickboxing and kendo. I don't suddenly grow a different personality when fighting, nor do I consider kickboxing some juxtaposition that doesn't fit in with being feminine. If you need a particular fighting style for a woman that shows a feminine. Side, making her graceful, or having her use the strength in her legs is probably a good, realistic way to go.

    On a side note, if you've created a character whose major personality trait is 'feminine,' make sure you're not adding her in there just to say 'see, I put in a girl/love interest!' If you have to ask yourself 'what would a girl do' instead of 'what would this character do', you're on your way to a weak boring character.
     
  12. NeonFraction
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    NeonFraction Member

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    A double post! How embarrassing!
     
  13. Robin Murarka
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    Robin Murarka Member

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    Allow her to swear. Cheap, simple, but effective solution. Being derogatory doesn't hurt. It is a masculine characteristic but one that flows freely into women without making them manly.

    If you're talking literary fiction, well, the sky's the limit. Strength is displayed in situations, not necessarily obvious character traits.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suspect that this isn't as universal as you're thinking it is - I certainly wouldn't agree with it.
     
  15. Loudwolf442
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    Loudwolf442 New Member

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    Thank you so much! This really helped.
     
  16. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If she's a woman, she already is feminine, right?

    [rant]Sometimes I feel like 'feminine' and 'masculine' are words that I'd want to erase from the English language altogether because I find this type of categorizing somewhat old-fashioned and restricting, as if you could slam two post-its on the wall, one reading feminine, one masculine, and then add more post-its underneath to list what's feminine and what's masculine. E.g. I'd hate to think pink is a feminine color. It's just a color, or was until people "decided" it's reserved for women. And for all I care a tough woman can wear pink and do battle and not curse, because her favorite color or lingo have nothing to do with toughness or being action-ready. [/rant]

    I'd rather you pondered how to write a tough individual. Things that make her a woman have also virtually nothing to do with toughness or being 'action-ready' (like menstruation and breast-size).
     
  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I hate to oversimplify here, but I'd say just write her into the action scenes, and watch what she does. It's amazing how characters develop when you give them something to do. I wouldn't over-think this beforehand.
     
  18. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is your individual opinion (and one I share, BTW), but in most Western or Westernized cultures, the warrior archetype is considered masculine. In fact, that's probably why the OP thinks its difficult to write an action-oriented female who doesn't come across as masculine. It's engrained into the minds of many potential readers and probably the writer's as well.

    This isn't really about what we, as individuals, think masculininity and feminininity are made of. My individual views on the subject will not / cannot change, overnight, the views of entire cultures. So, unless s/he is writing his/her story to a culture that does not subscribe to the belief that "warrior=manly" (and, yes, such cultures exist; I do not deny or downplay that fact) s/he needs to keep these perceptions in mind.
     
  19. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of my all time favourite such characters is Modesty Blaise. She is a lead in long-running series of comics. Have a look, and especially the back story.
     
  20. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This reminded me of something I was supposed to add into my earlier post:
    I find it ludicrous that toughness and the will to fight are (too) often seen as characteristics that somehow clash with femininity or are even mutually exclusive. I think that's pure bullshit although I do recognize that (far too) many people around the world think like this, but we, as writers, can, in our small way, help the issue by creating female characters that challenge this view and offer these... less free-thinking individuals new ways to look at grls/women.

    Personally I find tough (mentally and physically), capable women far more feminine (think 'Woman' with a capital 'W' instead of 'decorative female') and sexy than a female whose main contribution to her society is being pretty and, well, that's about it. Naturally that doesn't place these more ornamental ladies below their stronger counterparts because everyone is equal (or is supposed to be); it's just my personal preference. I just tend to root for the latter because they face so much crap in comparison because although times are (slowly) changing for the better, way too many people, men and women alike, still put down girls/women who go against these traditions and dare to challenge these views simply by doing what they love, be it soldiering, combat sports, tinkering with cars, or whatever that was considered an improper activity for females in the days of yore.
    I tip my hat to them for being a part of changing the world's way of looking at their sex and also for being able to take so well all the stupid jokes, snide remarks, scoffs, and eye rolling that flies in their way every so often simply because they don't happen to like embroidery, cooking, and cleaning (although there's nothing wrong with those things either, but what is wrong is that every female is expected to like those things and not to like, say, guns, guitars, ass-kickery, or even studying the hard sciences).

    Besides, I can´t help but well up with pride when my own Amazon princess I ended up marrying gets praised by our boxing coach. :cool: Then again, it's not surprising since she's easily one of the technically best boxers in our class even though she has less experience than some of the men there (some of whom seemingly hate the idea, but simply suck too hard to remedy it). To reiterate: I've never thought this attribute of hers takes anything away from her femininity, but quite the contrary. That's the same reason why I see Ellen Ripley as a Woman and Paris Hilton as a... well, something-not-as-feminine.
     
  21. TeenSitcom
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    TeenSitcom New Member

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    Keep her think with her feelings but more simple.
     
  22. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    You could try messing around with the femme fatale archetype?
    But on the whole, I agree with KaTrian.
     
  23. NeonFraction
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    NeonFraction Member

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    Best thing I've read all day!
     
  24. DPVP
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    DPVP Active Member

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    well part of it is how do you make any character action ready?

    this is going to depend on setting.

    In a historic one its harder as weapons, even the firearms, depend on more physical strength and/or years of training, like a sword. fewer women have this base line physical strength or would have revived the training to use a weapon like a sword bow or ax.

    in a modern setting where we have modern firearms its much easier. the great thing about a modern assault weapon is any one can be trained to use one efficiently. handguns are harder to use but still its a matter of training that does not take years and physical training. even our modern armor versus those metal ones of history can be put on of the rack and don't need the training to use.

    in science fiction the sky is the limit, or should i say stars?

    i think the base point is figure out what would make a character good to rock and roll then put it in the female charachter
     
  25. DPVP
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    double tap.
     

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