Literary Tropes

It bothers me quite a bit when, in order to make a female character interesting, writers make her some sort of damaged goods.  She’s been raped, beaten, her father never loved her, her mother never loved her, she’s an orphan raised by wolves/hateful relatives/on the streets, she had an affair with a prominent member of society and his bastard baby was stillborn, she murdered her abuser and buried his body in the garden, etc.  And from the pain of this backstory she manages to pull herself up by her bootstraps and carry on and this makes her beautiful/desirable/interesting.  It makes me a little ill that writers resort to this sort of storyline.

Are they really telling me that a woman can’t be interesting without being damaged in some way?  She can’t be interesting because she’s smart?  Because she reads?  Because she invented something?  Because she made a scientific discovery?  Because she’s really good at fixing cars?  Because she’s spent twenty years studying ballet and is now considered the world’s greatest dancer?  Is a woman really only interesting because of her sacrifices, because she’s overcome some sort of diversity?

I say all this because it’s true: but also because I’m a little annoyed with myself.  The story I’m currently crafting, which I really like, involves my protagonist’s (somewhat) dark past.  She never talks about it, and I don’t really want it to come up at all, really.  But I want it implied that she left America, in part, because she was leaving something [someone (a man)].  But she also leaves America (and this man) for herself.  I want that to be abundantly clear.  But she was also leaving someone and that is actually important.

The real trouble I’m having is plot.  I don’t know what causes the rising action or the climax.  I’ve had a number of ideas that bring her past into the story, but I don’t like that idea.  I don’t want to dredge it up because I don’t want her to only be interesting because of something she’s done before the story starts.

I think I really need to flesh out the rest of the characters.  Maybe something will develop there.

I also don’t want it to be a romance, or about the “friendzone” even though it sort of is.

I’ll keep working.

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International Women’s Day

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International Women's Day

IWD always sneaks up on me and I never go to any events or get involved. This year I can feel less guilty about that since the north east is getting a massive snow day today, but even though I cannot gather with my fellow women today I can say a little something here.

God bless the Internets.

Women in first world countries might have it pretty damn good with all sorts of rights and expectations that our foremothers fought real hard to get for us and we are starting out on a more equal footing than we used to be, but there are still areas of the world where women don’t have that leg up.  First World women still talk about equal pay and health care and reproductive rights; there are women in areas of the world who cannot get an education, cannot choose who to marry; there are areas of the world where women have no recourse for abuse.  Young women in Eastern Europe run the risk of being forced into slavery when they answer an ad for a waitressing job; and girls in Thailand have been reported as having to work laying bricks to build schools rather than attend school themselves.

Women of the First World have a certain amount of luxury with our public education, access to information, encouragement and belief in our rights to be who we want to be and do what drives us.  Our sisters across the globe are not so lucky as we and today we gather to remind the world that there are girls and women suffering, making the most of what little they have, some living in fear, and others trying to make their situations better.

Don’t forget the disenfranchised people of the world, especially the women and girls.  There are ways to help: organizations which to donate money, volunteering for said organizations, getting jobs with these organizations; raising your girls to be strong women, but also to be aware of others; raising your boys to respect women and to be aware of others; using your voice, your words, your greatest power to make others aware of the injustices in the world.  Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.  Support those who can when they use their own voices.

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day.