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What YOU dislike seeing in female fantasy characters

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by thecoldembrace, Nov 23, 2015.

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  1. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    This has been floating around in my skull for awhile now. Male characters have often taken the lead in fantasy writing for a long time with females almost always in the background or serving simply as the romantic interest of the protagonist. Most female characters annoy me, seeming more two dimensional than anything really fleshed out, or too petty.

    I personally have worked hard at creating dynamic females in my stories, ones who can survive without any notice from my male protagonists, but still it nags at me that I might not be doing enough to make them better.

    I would like to start a discussion, a list of opinions on what people hate seeing in female characters. This isn't about what makes a strong female character, we have threads for that already. What do YOU personally not like seeing in a female character or what turns you off to even liking one in the first place?

    Also... lets make sure to be respectful here. We live in a modern era where a lot of things can be interpreted multiple ways, be respectful to those who post their opinions.

    -Cold
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
  2. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Indecisiveness.

    That's probably my biggest dislike. Often, it's accompanied by hyper-emotionalism and/or hysteria, hurt feelings.
     
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  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    What I dislike seeing? Female characters who are either sexed up or political, mostly. Every once in a while I can read a story and I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something in the female characters that makes me realize, "This author sees the world very differently than I do." It's happened a few times, and I couldn't even put into words what it was that made me feel that way. It wasn't that the character did something, but that she did it in such a way as to . . . something.

    What I dislike writing might be a somewhat longer list. But truthfully I can't think of any additions right now. There's a few things I'd like to figure out how to nail it down, such as a basic romance plot, but for the most part it's the same list as above.
     
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  4. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    For me it is diversity. As a teenager it never bugged me that in the Sword of Truth series every woman was more beautiful and smart and deadly then the next and only bad characters were ugly. As an adult, this bugs me. A lot.

    I love George RR Martin, because yes, we have Dany, but we also have Cersei, and Arya, and Sansa, and Catelyn and Brienne, and all are so different from each other. All are each their own unique person with their own unique skill set and values and opinions and motives.

    I love Dean Koontz, but damn, he is so predictable! I can pick up any book and on page 24 we will meet the woman who will be 'the most beautiful, smart, funny… blah blah blah…"
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  5. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Shy female protagonist... Hate this character. It has been overdone and often leads to a boring, bland character who becomes an emotional trainwreck.
     
  6. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

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    I personally dislike female characters that are gold diggers. I think they are a bad influence. (especially for young boys)
     
  7. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    I agree. I personally dislike it when every woman responds or reacts in the same way as every other woman in a story. It makes it feel like they are just all manufactured as the same drone and thrown into the story. It also makes me feel that the author has never met more than one female in their life and is using all their basis for their characters on that one experience. Does anyone else get this way?
     
  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    YES! And people do say that Dean Koontz bases all the women off his wife, but it is old. So old.

    Except Stormy Llewellyn. He got her right.

    Same as Dan Brown. All the women in his books are the same woman.

    Honestly, I think fantasy does this better than some. Even Princess Buttercup was better then what I see in action fiction. I love the beginning of The Princess Bride "At the time Buttercup was born, she was the ninth most beautiful girl in the kingdom…."
     
  9. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    To be honest, I never dislike characters because of particular traits. Unless it less of a trait and more of a "quirk" that I find annoying and doesn't contribute to anything other than being "quirky". Other than that, I see no point in disliking particular character traits. The whole point of a story is trying to get into the head of a character. To try to understand things from their point of view. This involves accepting their traits and trying to understand how they make up a part of the person.

    The only thing, then, that bothers me is if the entire characterization falls apart because the various character traits never form a whole picture of the person. For instance, if the author is only giving a character certain traits out of convenience to the plot and some of them are contradictory in a way that doesn't make sense.
     
  10. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Does it bother you when you want to get into the head of a character but there is literally nothing there but air? Do you feel disappointed when they aren't fleshed out enough as dynamic characters?
     
  11. Incanus

    Incanus Archmage

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    Both in real life and in fiction, I don't respond well to 'the ultimatum'.

    I've been (slowly) re-reading Silverthorn by Feist. Granted this is an early 80's book. The character Princess Carline basically tells her lover, "Marry me, or else we're done." Aside from this, the character is portrayed generally as 'sympathetic'. (In my opinion, the characterizations in this book are all a bit on the weak-ish side.)

    I think I would use this 'ultimatum' type of thing to show a kind of petty character, and never, ever make one of my more likable females do anything like this.
     
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  12. Velka

    Velka Sage

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    Female characters that are are written inside a very shallow box - either they're beautiful and wonderful and amazing and fart butterflies, or they're bitter and horrible and ugly.

    On that note, why do so many females in fantasy have to be beautiful, and not just beautiful, but ethereally, goddess-like beautiful? I'd like to read female characters that have a crooked nose, or a missing tooth from a bar fight, or have a few zits.

    Female characters that kick-ass, speak what is on their mind, don't take crap from others and save the world, but as soon as they are written in the context of a relationship they become simpering and spineless.

    Female characters that don't screw up. Ugh, I personally screw up at least 10 times a day.

    Female characters that need to be rescued and just sit there and wait for rescue instead of trying to at least try to get herself out of it.

    Female characters that fall in love with the MC because he/she is the MC and there is no actual connection, or merit, established.
     
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  13. Devouring Wolf

    Devouring Wolf Sage

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    Overly romantic female characters. For some reason women are always portrayed as being more romantic then men. Whereas men can have romantic subplots, it doesn't define their character. Female characters seem to be constantly thinking about their love interest. I'm not against romance, but I'd like a female character who has her priority straight (defeating the bad guy is more important than your relationship)

    Also the "aura of specialness" as I like to call it where the female character is really weird and that's supposed to make her adorable. This usually comes off as attention seeking or down right crazy. It just gives off this "ooh I'm so unique because I like to dance in the rain and I don't like seashells because they're dead things." Being a nonconformist does not make you adorable.
     
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  14. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

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    Dull dialogue is a joy kill.

    Especially with female characters.

    I could sit down and read Conan the Barbarian and if he only grunted out a few words I would be fine with that, but not so with a female character.

    I want to read and write about female characters that are expressively dynamic.

    I do not expect perfection in deeds or curb appeal either.

    I admire women in general and I try to incorporate that in my writing.

    Women should have the best dialogue by rights anyway, they do most of the talking.
     
  15. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Why do you expect female characters to be more dialogue oriented? And why do you "admire" women, do you admire a woman more than a man?
     
  16. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I want to ask everyone not to treat this thread as a "trap" to catch and criticize people whose answers you do not like or I will not hesitate to lock the thread. Share your answer to the question, or elaborate on your own views civilly, but pouncing on people who respond in a way you view unfavorably will be considered trolling.
     
  17. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Actually, now that I think about it, there is one thing that will make me instantly dislike a female character. When she's willing to screw the male MC at the first sign of a bed even though she hated him moments before. Seriously? Just no. Have some dignity.
     
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  18. ^ That. But this doesn't just apply to females. It applies, to me, for all characters that break character in order to check a box. Honestly, this question could be rephrased to what do you dislike about a character or what character traits don't you like and the responses would likely read the same.
     
  19. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

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    In real life I admire women for many reasons: as opposed to thinking of them as second class citizens for one.

    I have strong women in my life that I rely on and that I look up to. Considering how women have been treated historically, I think it's only fitting to offer my interpretation of a literary voice that attempts to champion their strengths.

    Plus I'm attracted to women so for me it's a win, win.

    Rosalind is one of my favorite Shakespearean characters. If I could create my own Rosalind I would consider myself a success.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
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  20. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    George R.R. Martin on writing women

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
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