everything about this was beautiful

Female Characters to Avoid in your Writing:  An Illustrated Guide.

1.  The Bella Swan (i.e. the blank sheet of paper)

Who she is:

In Twilight, Bella has absolutely no qualities that make her interesting as a character.  She’s shown to have very little personality, in the books or onscreen, and is only made “interesting” (a relative term here) via the inclusion of her sparkly, abusive boyfriend.  It feeds into the harmful mentality of adolescent girls that you need a significant other in order to find fulfillment, particularly if he’s significantly older and likes to watch you sleep.  Yikes.

Examples:

Bella is welcomed to school by a friendly, extroverted girl and given a place to sit amongst her and her friends.  Despite this girl’s kindness, Bella shrugs her off as a stereotypical shallow cheerleader, and spends her time staring wistfully at the guy across the cafeteria from them.  Once Edward becomes her official boyfriend, she immediately loses interest in her new friends as her life shifts its orbit to revolve completely around him. 

How to avoid her:

  • Female characters are allowed to have lives outside of their significant others.  They’re allowed to have friends, quirks, hobbies, and interests.  Give them some
  • The best fictional relationships are based off of characters who compliment each other, not one character who revolves around the other.  Make sure your female character’s life does not centralize around her significant other.
  • Strong female characters don’t look down on other girls, even if they are outgoing cheerleaders.  Being pasty and introverted doesn’t make you a better person, y’all – if it did, I’d be a decorated hero by now.
  • Give them aspirations besides getting an obsessive, much-older boyfriend.  In fact, don’t give them an obsessive, much-older boyfriend at all – if you do want them to have a significant other, give them one who cares about their interests and accepts that they have lives and goals outside of them.

2.  The Molly Hooper (i.e. the starry-eyed punching bag)

Who she is:

 Like most things about BBC’s Sherlock, Molly was an amazing concept that went progressively downhill.  I used to love her quiet tenacity and emotional intelligence, and was sure that with her strong basis as a character, she would overcome her infatuation with the titular Sherlock and find self-fulfillment.  Nope!

Examples: 

She remained stubbornly infatuated over the course of five years with an ambiguously gay man who, en large, treated her badly, leading to her public humiliation with zero pertinence to the plot or resolution.  Moreover, her infatuation with Sherlock quickly usurped almost all of her other characteristics, leading her to an increasingly immature characterization that was difficult to relate to.

How to avoid her:

  • By all means, please write female characters who are quiet, kind, and unassuming (a female character does not, contrary to popular belief, need to be rambunctious, callous, or violent to be “strong”) but remember than none of these traits need to make the character a pushover.  Let them stand their ground.
  • Similarly, attraction to men (or anyone, for that matter) does not invalidate a female character’s strength.  Just be sure she values herself more than their attention.
  • As I said earlier, don’t be afraid to make characters who are gentle and soft-spoken, but be wary of making them “childlike,” or giving them an infantile, emotionally characterization.
  • My best advice for writing gentle, soft-spoken, unassuming women would actually to look to male characters in the media fitting this description; since male characters are rarely infantilized as much as women are by popular media, you’ll get a much better idea of what a well-rounded character looks like. 

3.  The Irene Adler (i.e. the defanged badass)  

Who she is: 

Yup, another one of the BBC Sherlock women, among whom only Mrs. Hudson seemed to come through with her dignity and characterization intact.  In the books, Irene and Sherlock have absolutely zero romantic connotations, only bonded via Sherlock’s irritation and respect with her substantial intelligence.  In the show, it’s a different story entirely. 

Examples:  

Irene is a badass character who’s turned into a teary-eyed Damsel in Distress via her uncontrollable love for the show’s male lead.  It doesn’t help matters that she’s a self-proclaimed lesbian who falls in love with a man, which, unless you’re a woman who loves women yourself and writing about a character realizing she’s bi/pansexual, I would recommend against doing under any circumstances.  She ends up being defeated and subsequently rescued by Sherlock – a far cry from her defeat of him in the books. 

How to avoid her:

  • If you’re writing a badass female character, allow her to actually be badass, and allow her to actually show it throughout your work as opposed to just hearing other characters say it.  And one punch or kick isn’t enough, either:  I want to see this chick jump out of planes.
  • That said, “badass” does not equal emotionally callous.  It doesn’t bother me that Moffat showed Irene having feelings for someone else, what bothers me is how he went about it. 
  • When writing a character who’s shown to be attracted to more than one gender, just say she’s bisexual.  Pansexual.  Whatever, just don’t call her straight/gay depending on the situation she’s in.  Jesus.

4.  The Becky (i.e. the comedic rapist) 

Who she is: 

Most people who know me can vouch for my adoration of Supernatural, but it definitely has its problems:  it’s not as diverse as it could be, its treatment of women is subpar, and yes, there is some thinly veiled sexual violence:  all three of its leading characters have dealt with it at one point of another (Dean is routinely groped by female demons, a virginal Castiel was sexually taken advantage of by a disguised reaper, and the whole concept of sex under demonic possession is iffy to say the least.)  It’s rarely ever addressed afterwards, and is commonly used for comedic fodder.  Possibly the most quintessential example of this is Becky.

Examples: 

Becky abducts Sam, ties him to the bed, and kisses him against his will.  She then drugs him, albeit with a love potion, and is implied to have had sex with him under its influence. 

How to avoid her:

  • Male rape isn’t funny, y’all.  Media still takes rape against women a lot more seriously than rape against men, particularly female-on-male rape, and I can assure you its not.
  • Educate yourself on statistics for male sexual assault:  approximately thirty-eight percent of sexual violence survivors are male, for example, and approximately one in sixteen male college students has reported to have experienced sexual assault. 
  • Moreover, be aware that forty-six percent of all instances of male rape have a female perpetrator.
  • Read more here in this amazing article: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/04/male_rape_in_america_a_new_study_reveals_that_men_are_sexually_assaulted.html
  • In other words, treat themes of sexual assault against men as seriously as you would treat themes of sexual assault against women.       

5.  The Movie Hermione (i.e. the flawless superhuman) 

Who she is: 

Okay, in and of herself, Movie Hermione is amazing:  she’s beautiful, intelligent, and heroic, as well as possibly the most useful character of the franchise.  She only bothers me in context of the fact that she takes away everything I loved most about Book Hermoine, and everything I loved about Book Ron, too.   

Examples: 

Book Hermione was beautiful, but not conventionally:  she had big, poofy curls, big teeth, and didn’t put a lot of effort into maintaining her appearance.  Movie Hermione looks effortlessly flawless, all the time.  Book Hermione was intelligent, but also loud, abrasive, and unintentionally annoying when talking about her interests (which meant a lot to me, because as a kid on the Asperger’s spectrum, I frequently was/am that way myself – it was nice to see a character struggling with the same traits).  She was also allowed to have flaws, such as struggling to keep up with academia, and being terrified of failure.  

Movie Hermione also took all of Ron’s redeeming qualities, and everything that made him compliment her as a couple:  his street smarts used to compliment her academic intelligence, for example, staying calm while she panicked in the Philosopher’s Stone when they were being overcome with vines.  He also stood up for her in the books against Snape, as opposed to the jerkish “he’s right, you know.”     

How to avoid her:

  • Allow your female characters to have flaws, as much so as any well-rounded male character.  Just be sure to counterbalance them with a suitable amount of redeeming qualities.  This will make your female character well-rounded, dynamic, and easy to get invested in.
  • There’s no reason for your female characters to always look perfect.  Sure, they can be stunningly gorgeous (particularly if their appearance is important to them), but it’s physical imperfections that make characters fun to imagine:  Harry’s scar and wild hair, for example.  Female characters are no different. 
  • If you’re writing a female character to have an eventual love interest, allow their personalities to compliment one another.  Allow the love interest to have qualities that the female character is lacking, so that they can compliment one another and have better chemistry. 
  • Basically, write your female characters as people. 


Check out my list of male characters to avoid here:   https://thecaffeinebookwarrior.tumblr.com/post/161184030785/male-protagonists-to-avoid-in-your-writing-an.


God willing, I will be publishing essays like this approximately every Friday, so be sure to follow my blog and stay tuned for future writing advice and observations!

I know everyone is busy screaming about history, but I would like to casually remind everyone of the gift that no one has talked about enough. this is magical and amazing and none of you have appreciated it enough so HERE now you can watch/listen on repeat like me

fave beauty and the beast (2017) things

  • the prince’s fabulous make up
  • “if he could earn their love in return”
  • belle’s blue dress
  • “hmm… ‘je ne sais quoi’?” - “I don’t know what that means”
  • even the freaking ducks are singing
  • “it’s never gonna happen ladies”
  • gaston asking belle if she’s busy and belle saying “no”
  • otp gaston x mirrors
  • belle’s disgusted face when gaston gestures from his lower body to her when saying she should only be concerned with her own children
  • “no one can change… that much”
  • “madame gaston, his little wife, uGH
  • the whole scene with maurice in the castle
  • m a u r i c e
  • philippe, everyone’s hero
  • belle smashing lumière with a stool
  • “the east wing, or as I like to call it, the only wing
  • ‘G A S T O N’
  • gaston lifting both lefou and a lady onto his shoulders
  • “I’ve been told I’m clingy, but I really don’t get it”
  • “he’ll blame me!” - “yes I will make sure of it”
  • “maestro, play quietly please” - “oh quietly, sotto voce, of course. are there any other tasteless demands you wish to make upon my artistry”
  • be. our. guest. be our guest put our service to the test
  • maurice trying to remember the way to the castle
  • “you really wanna marry into this family?”
  • “gaston, stop it. breathe. think happy thoughts. go back to the war! blood… explosions… countless widows…”
  • the nose boop
  • luke evans’ acting in that scene… hilariously creepy
  • “romeo and juliette fucking sucks here’s my huge library full of much better things to read” basically
  • beast is making jokes now
  • beast knocking out belle with his huge ass snowball like chill man
  • beast walking around the castle grounds with philippe and talking to him
  • belle watching that from the window and looking beautiful as hell like wow I knew I was gay but that was a solid reminder
  • “no? too touristy?”
  • the way lefou says maurice’s name and smiles when seeing he’s alive
  • waiting heeere. fooor. eee.ver.mooooore
  • luke evans singing
  • “there’s a beast running wild there’s no question, but I fear the wrong monster’s released”
  • stanley rocking that dress and owning it that’s my boy
  • lefou teaming up with mrs potts
  • “I am. not. a beast.”
  • L E F O U 
  • “turn back into a clock, turn back into a clock”
  • human plumette is so beautiful I wanted to cry
  • “how would you feel about growing a beard”
  • rawr
4

“I had this vague notion that one day I might be editor of ‘Vogue China.’ It was a bizarre ambition, as I didn’t speak a word of Chinese. There were flaws in my plan, admittedly.”

I’ve been waiting to post this for ages so it could go up with the chapter it’s from and AT LAST!!! Happy Friday the 13th! (at least it is for me here)

My 2nd commissioned piece from @bev-nap who is a literal goddess among mortals. Look at this. Look at my grumpy son, isn’t he gorgeous?! I’m still squealing internally and externally over this and I don’t think I’ll be done anytime soon ^_^