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Posts Tagged ‘characters’

It seems we each have a fundamental core where we feel most comfortable, or most ourselves. It may come as no surprise to those who have spent any time on this site, but for me, it’s books and food. 

Those aren’t all I’m made of, of course, but those two elements were established early, before my memories became fixed. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love books and food. One of my first real recollections is sitting on the side steps of the porch eating an artichoke with my father, and it’s hard not to feel happy in a kitchen or library.

Now, if I’d had different experiences growing up I might have become an engineer or a tailor or a computer scientist. I make things and sew and code but not with the intuitive ease some have. Instead, it’s books. And food. I’m ok with that. 

* * *

I’m in the middle of a writing class, designing story ideas and characters. It got me thinking about how experiences become preferences and worldviews underpinning our actions. 

My father and I visited the Grand Canyon once, road-tripping north to the South Rim to hike and camp. The trip was great, full of summer heat and happiness, astonishing vistas and challenging trails.

I may also have spent some of the visit sitting by the edge, reading a book. Because we had a few minutes and that’s how I roll.

* * *

Like places, people have layers. Understanding how time and exposure, pressure and purpose combine makes it easier to build complex and interesting motivations, or to understand our own.

We just have to sit back and consider what we’re made of.

* * *

Photo by Jenn Wood on Unsplash

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We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome

This excellent piece by Tasha Robinson sums up a lot of the problems mainstream storytelling has with “Strong Female Characters.”

For the ordinary dude to be triumphant, the Strong Female Character has to entirely disappear into Subservient Trophy Character mode. This is Trinity Syndrome à la The Matrix: the hugely capable woman who never once becomes as independent, significant, and exciting as she is in her introductory scene.

If you are interested in learning how not to bury your SFC’s light under a bushel, I recommend this article. It highlights on-point questions creatives should ask themselves, like:

03. Could your Strong Female Character be seamlessly replaced with a floor lamp with some useful information written on it to help a male hero?

:p

In many instances, what starts out as an interesting character is hobbled in order to provide the male hero with whatever thing he needs (knowledge, motivation, etc.) to make it to the finish line. There are exceptions, of course, and I’m pleased to say that Emily Blunt’s character in Edge of Tomorrow was one such.

So maybe all the questions can boil down to this: Looking at a so-called Strong Female Character, would you—the writer, the director, the actor, the viewer—want to be her?

Like Tasha Robinson, I loved Cate Blanchett’s character in How to Train Your Dragon 2 and was as disappointed when the role for this supremely kick-ass woman who was willing to live in exile for twenty years to uphold her principles just sort of… fizzled out. I hope to see more from her in a third installment. In fact, I hope to see more Strong Female Characters across the board.

Who knows, one day we might even just call them, oh, I don’t know, “Female Characters.”

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