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How to Fight Like a Girl

Discussion in 'Writing Resources' started by Feo Takahari, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. True, but there needs to be a good reason for it, even if it's a bit of hand-waveium. Saying she is quick, smarter, etc. is a good reason. It might not be realistic but it'll work well enough. But if you say that an Arya character beat a Clegane character without a mentioned justification not a single person would believe. They, like I, would toss the book and call BS.

    To your fictional men point there is always a reason why they're defying basic facts of life. When applied logically it may not actually work, but it's still a reason and readers will say, "I can accept that." The same must apply to women as well.
     
    TheCatholicCrow likes this.
  2. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    The reason for my works is usually just the established style of the stories, from the moment the story starts or not long after it it's established that the limits for women - and men - are not comparable to reality and it's blatantly obvious you're reading a comic book/manga in text form.

    Like the male MC who is basically a skilled normal human killing a giant snake monster with difficulty and then having to flee from its 10X larger parent... and then the female MC appearing and killing the tower-sized serpent in 3 hits lol.
     
  3. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    For my MC, the reason she's such a good fighter is because the gods wanted her to be and made her so. I also have Amazons in my world, but they're not human so I can make their physiology pretty much whatever I want.
     
  4. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    What makes a heroine fun is the same as what makes a hero fun.

    That is, she wins despite the odds being against her by working around her limitations (as opposed to her limitations being treated as irrelevant). I try to find different ways to show that Addison has limitations. This could mean getting wounded, walking away from a fight, or failing to protect someone. If I keep writing stories with her, the reader knows she's not going to die, so I strive to find other ways to keep her believable and the stories surprising.

    Basically, I agree with this. I don't actually think my heroine is better than the competent (male) warriors in my stories, so much as she takes risks and they pay off to the point that she'll live to star in another tale.
     
  5. I think this is an important point, no matter what gender your hero is their victories should come primarily from their own skills and not plot or character induced stupidity (PIS and CIS respectively). This is not to say an MC can't exploit CIS but the exploitation must be done by the MC deliberately. Luck can be involved but I think the character's skill should feed that luck, unless it's established that the character can either increase his luck via potion or is just lucky like Mat Cauthon from WOT.
     
  6. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    IMO this was a much better written piece. I'd agree that there is a marked difference in the representation of teamwork in tween shows but it depends on what you use to define "teamwork"- is it a tribal mentality of a group of friends looking out for one another or are they all working towards an end goal? I think it seems so different because the end goal changes from (MLP) the ponies protecting the elements of harmony & defeating Discord or Nightmare Moon or whatever have you - it's teamwork in a good vs evil setting (never watched it but I'd bet its the same w Power Puff Girls). That same framework is no longer present in Tween shows so I think the teamwork appears much more subtle - rather than casting a spell to protect your friend it might be something like being there as a shoulder for them to cry on.

    I'm conflicted with the notion of "boy" and "girl" shows. Is something a boy show because it has boys or because it's intended for boys? IDK if such separation of genders in television is really relevant in the modern era. I think from a purely marketing standpoint, it'd be more profitable when they ride the line than when they go boy show / girl show. Again- The line between "girly" and "masculine" shows is becoming more and more blurred so I'd be curious to know (perhaps I missed it) what he means by this.

    I agree that tv shows transition sharply from (children's) MLP:FIM to tween crap like ICarly, Dog w a Blog, Drake & Josh, etc. There is an increase in competition but I'm not sure if it's necessarily specific to girls. The male characters are frequently in competition with one another as well (often over the same girl). I would agree that they reduce women to sexual objects- almost never developing the female objects of affection beyond the point that they're "hot" but I don't know if I agree w the point of teamwork. Perhaps I'm just not up to date with my "boy" shows but I can't think of too many that rely on teamwork (towards a goal) either. In college I lived w Engineers. The guys were the worst. They were super competitive- just in different ways from the girls. If there was any teamwork there (regardless of gender) I never saw it. I'm wondering if perhaps this is a romantic view of male representation in media.

    Assuming I'm wrong though, it would make sense to me that women would be more competitive with one another because of our basic biology. Logically we should be in great competition with one another over the best/genetically strongest (potential) mate. Women naturally have more riding on the line when it comes to choosing a partner.

    Most of the "teams" that come to mind are either all women or mixed - Charmed, (of course) The Avengers, The Justice League, The "Scoobies" on Buffy / Angel, etc. Actually, I would argue that there has been more of an emphasis on friendship in recent years as the emphasis on family declines. Of course now families come in all shapes and sizes and the one size fits all portrayal of Leave it to Beaver is no longer applicable to most. I would venture to say that the American family has died in favor of teams.

    IDK - maybe I'm just watching really different shows from him.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015
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  7. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    One thing that bothers me is that fictional supermen are usually depicted that way physically. They have greater stature, more muscles, etc. You look at them and you expect them to be physical powerhouses. However, fictional superwomen usually look no different physically than regular women. They don't have exceptional stature or more than average muscle or anything that would lead me to look at them and think "wow, I bet she's so awesome she could totally kick that tough guy's butt".

    I once dropped an anime because it showed a group of female fighters easily doing manual tasks that would be tough on the average guy and the thing was that these chicks were all very petite and had stick thin arms. I'm sorry, just NO. That is not believable. If you want me to believe that a girl is strong then don't literally make her the size of a child. Don't insist that the heroine has to be petite AND flawless without any scars or callouses or any of the other signs of the grueling training it would take to get as strong as you're telling me she is AND whenever she's not actually fighting she suddenly becomes a giggling, clutzy preteen type or something. Movies are notorious for this type of "female warrior" character and it drives me mad.

    I don't care if you (plural, not directed at anyone here, just the world at large) want to make your women as strong as your men, but it has to show in them physically. They can't be the pretty, pretty princess if they're also strong enough to take on the toughest of the men. It's just not believable.
     
    Trick likes this.
  8. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    While it is a little off topic, this is a fascinating debate these days. While the popular evolutionary model seems to think women should be more inclined to settle down than women, there are new ways of looking at human reproduction and evolution that suggest males might well be more evolved to be monogamous than is traditionally thought (low fecundity and crazy long childhoods for example).
     
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I can try to answer that.

    It's a boy or a girl show based on the show's target audience. But a show usually targets a primary audience and several different secondary audiences with different elements of the show. A good example of this is Sesame Street, which focuses on children as the primary audience, but they also try really hard to get parents watching with their kids by using semi-clever puns, celebrity guests, and parodies of popular television shows. None of that is for the kids. They've concluded that their show is more effective when children watch it with their parents, and so they aim for both audiences.

    Lots of shows target a primary audience based on their gender, even adult shows, but very few target that audience exclusively. Most have some elements to reach different groups, which also may or may not be gender based.

    So, why? There's a few reasons. TV is constantly getting more segmented as the number of options keeps going up. It helps to find an audience and make an impression on them when you know who you're targeting. It helps them to build a stronger audience by putting together blocks that target a similar audience, and then advertise the whole block at once. Networks also try to counter-program one another. If the Disney channel is airing a boys show, Nick will try to air a girls show.

    Also, for whatever reason, the majority of TV viewers are women, and that plays into their programming.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015
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  10. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    As a side note, this happens in shoujo too! Fruits Basket, for instance, has an author's note that the male martial artists should really have more muscle, but they're all twiggy prettyboys because that's the kind of guy she's attracted to and likes drawing.
     
  11. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Yeah, it's a problem. Sometimes I can ignore it, depending on the overall tone of the work and the circumstances of the setting (less realistic setting means you can get away with more), but on the whole, it's off putting.
     
  12. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    During my time in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army, I've had the privilege of knowing several females who could quite literally kick the shit out of most men. Training was the key factor, not size and strength.

    In my opinion, it all comes down to who has the most training and skill. In my stories, it's these things that matter, not gender.

    Case in point: Amazon Warriors Did Indeed Fight and Die Like Men
     
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  13. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    That was a really good article, Reaver, thanks. I've admired the women who live in nomadic cultures and aren't simply housewives, chatting around the cook fire while watching children. I might have to write more female warriors into my stories.
     
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  14. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    I love writing strong female characters. I'm not saying that I'm particularly good at it, but I do love it.
     
  15. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I do too, but when I tally them up, I've got this:

    Yvette- age 43 and strong mentally and good with a bow and knives, but not going to win an arm-wrestling match. Speed is her strength and at the time I'm writing her, she's feeling past her prime and letting paranoia and depression interfere with her goals.

    Daniela- age 23 and devious, but not physically strong. I think she's scrappy, like when she resists her first kidnapping, but she's easily overpowered. She's cunning and sneaky, though, which is how she gets out of bad places.

    Raven- effective age late twenties, she's emotionally detached which provides her a sort of mental strength over anyone trying to intimidate her, but her physical strength is about what mine is. She has some fight in her, but isn't going to present a tough opponent for a trained fighter or thug.

    Claudia- age 26-ish. While she's good with a sword, she hasn't had extensive training. But she shows enough promise Vincenzo, a middle-age swordsman, even muses about taking her on as a student "if only she weren't female". She's good enough to fight off guards while they're saving his ass, though. I hint at her previous work as an assassin, though I never fully develop it, and I believe if she were a killer, she'd either be a poisoner, or the kind of assassin no one sees coming, a pretty face, a little too much wine, and a knife in their back and no witnesses.

    Alayna- age 28. She's emotionally damaged and keeps weighty secrets that prevent her from ever feeling comfortable. Her magic isn't strong, but it's visually impressive enough to run off a few mercenaries with bad manners and even kill one in a single desperate scene. Against any accomplished mage, she's be fried. Her counterpart and love interest isn't really anymore impressive, though (because my male MCs aren't brawny brutes any more than my females are). He's a warrior, but it's in his defense that she kills someone, to save the life of the guy who can get her safely home. Both of them are really intelligent, though. They both can talk their way out of trouble.

    Zedrina- age 20, is a blind priestess who is extremely competent as a fortuneteller. Her physical might again isn't impressive, but her resolve and bravery are enough to show up her soldier companion, who isn't as suited to certain obstacles along their journey.

    Ayleth-age 18, is probably one of my strongest female characters. Her magic is potent and her self-assurance is maddening to her parents. I guess that's why I threw some of the biggest obstacles her way, because she was just so well-equipped to deal with them. Of course (since we're talking about strong males vs. weaker females) her male counterpart and love interest is probably one of the weakest male MCs I've written, a plow boy (no, he isn't a chosen one) who is drafted into the army (long story) and can't hack it with a sword, so he joins the archers, where he excels and actually thrives against the odds.

    So yeah, when comparing my male and female characters, they all have their flaws and strengths, but I think in my stories, the genders are pretty evenly matched. Because I write strong romantic elements into many of my tales, it wouldn't make sense to have one partner super strong (in the general sense, not physical power necessarily) and the other significantly weaker. Where Alayna has a closet full of secrets, her mercenary lover is burdened by a tragic past he can't resolve. Where Ayleth is a strong mage and Aarin is a weak plow boy, she's burdened by a family legacy she can't dodge and he's bolstered by pride and accomplishment. Where Raven is physically weak and puts on an impenetrable demeanor to intimidate the competition, Logan is a physical powerhouse but soft and sentimental on the inside.

    I guess for me, it was about balance and acknowledging that sure, my characters get into scrapes together, but their strengths often compliment each other's weaknesses, so they can pull through together. I guess in my real life, that's what I've learned--that I'm weak in ways and strong in others, and if I can't do something alone, I'm charismatic enough that I have friends who can and will come to my aid. And some of the toughest people I know ask for my help on occasion, too. Unless it's lifting stuff. HA! I recall a time my friend and I were doing leather-working together. He offered to cut out my pieces for me (watching me struggle with my scissors). He used a fancy blade (that looked like it took leather and fingers indiscriminately), and cut all my pieces and his...but I was the one who designed all the patterns, and he was happy to sit back and let me do my thing, because it's my strength. That's how my men and women relate and compliment each other. I hope that's not sexist. To me, it's just how I've observed the world. Now, that being said, I've done my fair share of physical stuff. I'm not exactly fragile, but I'm about as far from brawny as it comes. The point above about petite powerhouses is a bit off-putting, I agree, but I'm scrappy and pound for pound, I think I do alright.
     
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  16. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    Well, as your number one fan, you already know how much I enjoy your stories and your characters. Especially WiR.

    You create rich characters and vivid worlds and I'm envious.
     
  17. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    Kind of going off on a tangent, but when I was in A school in the navy we had marines on the base. One of the safety briefings they gave us one morning was to stop coming onto the female marines in the enlisted club. A couple of sailors tried it and got their asses kicked by the female marines. I was the only one in the room who thought that was hilarious.
     
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  18. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    I see that this has been a very interesting discussion so far.

    As you know, in the past I have replied to threads similar to this by posting a very different point of view. I believe that most of you concentrate too much on human characters, or at least characters that are heavily human in nature. So yeah, it was inevitable that I would show up here to present you with...

    The Aylar Point of View!

    In the Aylar species, there is nothing strange in the idea of the females fighting and also going to war. That is a very normal thing, and this is despite the fact that the Guardians (male Aylars) are over twice the height and twelve times stronger than the average female.

    In the medieval times of Aylanya, it was common for the Guardians to form armies and go to war. Their modern War Museums are still full of giant suits of armor and ten-foot long swords, and those battles of old times were truly legendary and terrifying to witness.

    The problem was that so many Guardians were getting killed in the wars that eventually it had a negative effect on the reproduction of the species, and so the female Aylars took the main role of fighting...

    This is not a complication for them, because Aylars (despite their fragile and delicate appearance) are strong enough to toss boulders and tear polar bears to shreds with their claws. Their speed and reflexes are far faster than even the best felines, and their stamina is so great that any teenage girl could carry a horse on her back all day without breaking a sweat.

    In war they fight possessed by the fierce and sadistic nature of their species, turning into authentic nightmares in the battlefield...

    To them, there is little sense in the expression To Fight like a Girl. The Aylar females fight just as good and viciously as the Guardians, the differences are just their size and the numbers involved in a battle... In Aylar stories there is no need to give the females any special skills or training to explain their fighting prowess, it's just natural for them.

    Writing about human characters gets very complicated sometimes, Aylars are better =)
     
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  19. Lunaairis

    Lunaairis Sage

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    A little side note, but something I thought was really cool when I found it out a few days ago on the 'Mental Floss' youtube channel.

    Gladiator is the male term for warriors that fought as entertainment in the roman world. There was also a female term: Gladiatrix.

    the wiki page has a bunch of sources if you wish to read up on this.
     
  20. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    They tend to be pretty tanky in my works. The heroine of my main series is 6' 240-250 lbs depending on diet, most aren't quite that bulked up but they're never 'modelweight' and tend to be rather stocky with tons of 'aesthetic' scars lol. Thinking the main 'badass' girl of my new WIP will be around 5'9 170... considering having her wear lifts inside already thick-heeled boots to make her look 6' lol. Yeah it would make her kind of a 'tryhard' but she's legit beastly too of course.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
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