This article is one of the best I’ve read on the subject of writing about women. At the beginning of the article the author mentions three crucial points to remember when writing about women:
- Have enough women in the story that they can talk to each other.
- Filling in tertiary characters with women, even if they have little dialogue or no major impact on plot, changes the background dynamic in unexpected ways.
- Set women characters into the plot as energetic participants in the plot, whether as primary or secondary or tertiary characters and whether in public or private roles within the setting. Have your female characters exist for themselves, not merely as passive adjuncts whose sole function is to serve as a mirror or a motivator or a victim in relationship to the male.
Her article goes into greater depth on each of those points, but also goes on to further remind us that we need to treat all the characters we write as people, “People are not aliens. They are people. Treat all your characters as people. It’s that simple. It’s that hard.”
It will take about 15-20 minutes to read Writing Women Characters as Human Beings. Be sure to print it off or bookmark it on your computer as a good reference.
I’m a little bit obsessed with Idris Elba at the moment (I binge watched all 16 episodes of Luther in about a week). I’m especially obsessed with the beautiful speech he gave to UK’s Parliament back in January. His speech focuses on the importance of having more diversity in film and television. In his address he not only addresses racial diversity, but gender. He urges filmmakers, writers, producers, etc to open their minds and be more creative when it comes to incorporating more diversity in film. At one point in his speech he says, “…as Viola Davies said last year when she became the first-ever black woman to win an Emmy for drama, ‘you can’t win an Emmy for a role that’s never been written.’ That’s why we need more imagination from our directors, our producers, our casting directors, our writers – especially our writers.”
This speech was given as a TED talk back in 2013. The speech can be viewed or purchased in book form from Amazon. A transcript of the speech is also available online. Chimamanda dives deeply into why everyone should become a feminist and that both men and women should be treated equally. Gender shouldn’t decide how successful we can be. She brilliantly reminds us that, “…today we live in a vastly different world. The person more likely to lead is not the physically stronger person, it is the more creative person, the more intelligent person, the more innovative person, and there are no hormones for those attributes. A man is as likely as a woman to be intelligent, to be creative, to be innovative.”
Emma kindly tells us that we shouldn’t be afraid of the word “feminism” – in fact, we should embrace it. In creating the organization HeForShe, Ms. Watson is encouraging us to realize how important being a feminist actually is.