Thursday, December 9, 2010

Writing As Women

Hello Writers! 

In her blog, "Eonism" Magen Toole writes about the difficulties she's experienced writing female characters. She draws attention to the fact that because of the sometimes unfortunate sexual politics of the world we live in, there are a lot of "don't's" when it comes to creating and fleshing out a dynamic female character in fictional narratives.

Toole describes one female character, named "Mariska," whom she says that she is "still learning to write:"

"Mariska’s a bundle of contradictions, strengths and weaknesses. She’s held up by the sheer force of her will, and yet still remains too soft... I’m still learning to write her, fretting over every page, wringing my hands over the context of her words and the subtext of her intentions. Does she mean well? Does she do harm? Is she strong enough to survive [a] violent chain of events?" 

There are elements of every story that present us with obstacles, and gender is often one of them. How can we be both the lion and the lamb when it comes to constructing narratives, as women writing about women? Our characters demand that we as writers endow them with humanity--with all the grit and grace that make a person "a real boy"--or in this case "girl." 

Magen Toole is an honest voice when it comes to the obstacles inherent in female character development. It's this transparency that is vitally needed. Check out her blog and her writings, (You can also follow her on Twitter.) 

What about you? How do you approach writing female (or male) characters as women? How do you feel your perspective influences your writing? 


  1. My female characters are always a total mess (and hard to write, too, lol), but my male characters are worse. My girls are always messed up (like me, lol), and the men are either "perfect" or total douche bags. I have a hard time making them REAL.

  2. Thanks so much for the bump, Laura. I'm really glad that post resonated with you. It's a topic I enjoy discussing, and something I'd wanted to blog about for a while.

  3. @ Magen Toole: You're so welcome! It's a topic that is uniquely appropriate for this blog, as my readers as [mostly]women. I loved reading your post, and look forward to reading some more! Keep up the good work!

  4. I tend to write my novels in first-person narrative. . . in which case, you'd assume I also tend to write myself. I've been rereading my second stab at a novel before sending it off to the editor, though, and realized that my protagonist is not me at all. Naturally we have many of the same observations, but she is entirely her own person.

    A friend of mine recently said that it is difficult to write ourselves into fiction because our impressions of ourselves are ever-changing. I'd imagine this is especially true for women.

    As usual. . .great post Laura!

    (For some reason I always want to refer to you as Laur. Not sure why).

  5. Yay, thanks for the kind comment, Lauren! I LOVE that observation about how our impressions are in constant flux! And I believe you're right--that probably counts double for us gals!

    P.S. You may refer to me as "Laur" any time you please!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...