Posts Tagged ‘stereotypes’

Mark Charan Newton recently wrote a blog post entitled “Getting Women”.  His provocative title caused me to click through and read what he had to say.  He talks about having awareness while writing female characters in fantasy, and how he improved at avoiding stereotypes and portraying more realistic female characters in his latest novel.  Having not read this novel, however, I am left without concrete examples of *how* he succeeded.  Hence my own post with a similarly eye-catching title.

I’m going to talk about a recent example from my writing life.  For one of my latest stories, I chose to write it in a first person male POV.  This is, in fact, the first time I’ve attempted such a thing in my writing.  I adore first person, but up until now, I have always chosen a female voice.  Part of this was because I felt more confident that I could get a female voice correct, and part of it, I’ll admit, was my desire to read more stories in the adult science fiction/fantasy genre told from the POV of a woman.  Write what you want to read, and all that.  (Interesting side note: At Taos Toolbox this year, we had six women students and eight male students.  For our first week submissions, we had ten mainly male POV stories/chapters and four female POVs.  All four female POVs were written by female students.  Food for thought, that.)

But for this particular story, I really wanted a male POV, and it had to be in first person.  I was somewhat apprehensive about giving it a try.  I decided, in order to avoid complete creative blockage, to not obsess too much about the “maleness” on my first draft.  I would do as I usually do and try to inhabit my character’s mind (similar to Method acting), but beyond that, I’d fix any voice problems in a later draft and rely on my writing group to catch the things I couldn’t catch myself.

My writing group critiqued the story last Friday, and I was surprised at how few issues of male vs. female voice they brought up.  There were a few, notably a mention of a “champagne pink silk dress” (apparently, men aren’t aware of the color champagne pink.  Who knew?)  But overall, only a few changes of that nature needed to be made.  So apparently my technique of trying to get into the head of my specific character, as opposed to thinking “what would a man say” every five words, worked out mostly okay this time.

Of course, I think what Mark might have been talking about in his blog post is the prevalence of female stereotypes in fantasy.  Fantasy readers get to see several cardboard classes of female character: bad-ass in leather, damsel in distress, someone’s wife/mother/daughter/sister who only exists to be angelic and pure or bad and slutty, or be rescued or to show our hero isn’t completely socially maladjusted.  The list goes on and on.

Here’s my question: can you think of any stereotyped male character types in fantasy that you find equally boring and/or offensive?  Comment below and let me know!

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