Writing update

I head back to uni next week, so the pressure has been growing to get in as much writing as possible before my mind is yanked in multiple learning directions.

That said, the past week of writing has been good. I’ve finished overhauling the first act, which I’m pretty stoked about. I’d made the classic mistake of starting the story in the wrong place, and have consequently had to let go of entire chapters and scenes that I really loved. The overhaul has involved about 18,000 new words entering the manuscript. I’ve kept approx. 3,000 words from the original draft.

I’m now in the second chapter of act two, where I take the book in a slightly different direction. It’s been slow going. Two key characters in the first draft are being reimagined—one had admittedly been a bit of a by-the-numbers asshat, and the other an angsty manchild who even I was tired of dealing with by the end. Turning them into interesting characters with complex motivations and manipulations has been difficult. This week I’ve written multiple versions of the same scenes as I try to get a handle on them. I’m finding perhaps a 30% retention rate with this new writing.

I’ve also given myself the deadline of the 31st of May to finish the second act, and while that is still ages away, I can already feel it looming. There’s some major work to be done, and based on previous shenanigans, I’ve got about five weeks before I start calling friends and family in hysterics about my inability to handle my study load, writing and life in general. I’ll likely be under my bed for a few days with a platter of cheese and dips.

Fun times ahead!

K.

Kelly's a lefty

Female Stereotypes

I don’t know if I’ve made some poor choices lately or if it’s a reflection of ongoing gender stereotyping, but the female characters in the fantasy books I’ve been reading have played into some pretty shitty tropes: the meek and caring girl, the hapless love-driven schemer, the whore with a heart of gold, and the woman requiring rape in order to ‘grow’.

Where is the strong, independent female character whose self-worth and growth is not predicated on a dominant, masculine force?

I’m not saying that a female character can’t look for love or enjoy sexual freedom (hell, yes!), but why does it have to be her most defining contribution to the story? And let’s not even go there on the whole rape trope.

Seriously. What the hell, people.

And, sorry, making a female character a mercenary, sword fighter or ship’s captain doesn’t automatically make them ‘strong’ women. Strong characters aren’t defined by their physicality. It’s the inherent core of their being—their personality, flaws, foibles and decisions—that defines the character.

By plonking women into traditionally male positions which require physical strength, the writer can skip over any real sort of character development and still wave their hands around, saying, ‘See? Strong woman character over here!’ But what the writer is really saying is that these female characters are ‘strong’ despite their gender. They act like men. They fight like men. They’re essentially men with shapely breasts.

This type of writing is lazy, divisive and patronising. And I’m done reading it.

Come on, writers, we can do better than this.

Rant over.