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Don't we need strong MALE characters as WELL as female?

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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2012 3:59:54 PM PST
Peridot says:
One fully comprehended the nature of Ms Leonard's remarks.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2012 8:43:34 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 11:54:51 AM PST
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Posted on Nov 26, 2012 8:34:20 AM PST
Hawk Feather says:
ScoobyDooMom you are quite right. I find fluffy women who scream at everything thoroughly irritating and I want to slap them across the face and tell them to shut up. Similarly, wimpy men are equally irritating. A balanced duo (or group of people, mythical animals or creatures and so on) are certainly entirely more fulfilling and entertaining a read. I must also add, any story (regardless of its character mix) that has a miserable/unhappy ending peeves me off no end. I like to read a book (or series of books) and feel satisfied and positive that the roller coaster ride of adventure was an enjoyable one, to which all the ups and downs were worth the trip.

Posted on Dec 6, 2012 10:52:24 PM PST
JF says:
I've been lurking in this thread for a bit and just wanted to say that I think it's fine if one chooses to embed feminist ideas within the female (and male) characters in a novel. However, the point where it fails in the text is when the author does not create a world where that is possible.

Mr. Goff's larger point, which I suspect Ramona missed in her fervent defense of women's rights, is that modern feminism (or really any contemporary sensibility of gender) requires specific context in a fantasy world. The goal of an author should be to design the story around strong characters in a believable setting, not promote a specific world view at the expense of the story.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 9:30:37 AM PST
Peridot says:
JF, your insistence on a 'believable' setting would seem to describe historical fiction rather than fantasy. Believable by whom? What does that rule out? Faster than light travel? Living on other planets? Cowboys and space ships? Magic? Dragons? Witches? Flying carpets? Vampires? Please be specific. Neither you nor Mr Goff cared to respond to this point of inquiry. Your vague criticism is not remotely helpful within the context of this discussion.

Whose rules would apply to this context? Please give examples of stories you like and dislike.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 12:01:42 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2012 12:17:52 PM PST
JF says:
Ramona, I'm not interested in fighting -- I'm here because this discussion is interesting. I'm not Mr. Goff. I really can't speak for him. I wasn't being vague with my criticism. That said, it wasn't personal. Contrary to your opinion, I believe my point is quite valid and adds to the conversation. Since you don't seem to be on quite the same page with what I'm saying, please allow me to elaborate a bit.

My criticism of your commentary was aimed at your failure to acknowledge Mr. Goff's prevailing point: that context in a fantasy world needs to blend in a realistic (or even semi-realistic) way into the fantasy that the author is creating. If you want to insert a popular opinion on the world at large into your work, you need to do it with care lest you alienate your reader (and undermine your story).

Semantics about my use of the word "believable" aside, I was being purposefully vague because an author should be writing for her reader, not just for herself. Settings, characters, protagonists, and antagonists all need to work together to pull the reader into the story. It doesn't matter what the story is. How an author chooses to do that is up to that author, but it must be done well if the author cares about crafting a world where a reader can "believe" or even "make believe" a character might somehow exist.

I think we can all agree that everyone across our planet relies on some culturally common perceptions to make sense of the world. In the case of gender roles, in order to bring a convincing character to life, an author must build a creative reality that somehow relates and mirrors the reader's expectations of normality. If there is a drastic change to the reader's sense of expectation, it needs to be designed in a way that keeps the reader "believing" that it would be possible in the fictional world.

Take (forgive me) Twilight as an example. The male protagonist is a vampire that differs from the normal expectation of vampires. He does not wear a black overcoat, he does not sleep in a coffin, he has very shiny skin, and he tries desperately to not eat people he likes for dinner. Is this a typical strong male fantasy character? Does this appeal to the usual expectations of vampire fiction enthusiasts? Does Stephanie Meyer write to a certain audience in a certain way to make this uncommon character more believable and convincing to her audience?

*edited for typos

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 3:27:31 PM PST
Peridot says:
I was truly interested in examples which you feel support your position.

The sole reason this reader knows the plot of TWILIGHT is due to the fact that a special young person of her acquaintance is besotted with Edward and Bella. This necessitated grimly trudging through the book with tooth-grinding determination so as to be able to comprehend the world of Bella as it relates to the young person. This was a great sacrifice which the young person will never understand.

AFA TWILIGHT goes, as abstinence only sex ed literature (that's what it was intended to be), one must point out that it's a dismal failure. Bella would have had sex with Edward in the first book, probably in the first few chapters. As literature it has many flaws. Vampires preying on endangered species such as grizzly bears is ludicrous. Ms Meyers' lack of higher education is clear in the plot and behavior of her characters.
From glimpses of later films, one wonders how Bella and another family member managed to drive from Forks to Italy without passports but one prefers not to get involved in the insanity of Ms Meyers juvenile storytelling. One truly does not care if these characters live or die. (One wishes they would DIE!)

Is Edward a typical strong male fantasy character? No. As a fan of vampire fiction, he does not appeal to the usual fans of vampire genre. Edward's habit of watching Bella sleep is more reminiscent of a stalker than a lover. It's completely creepy and it teaches young girls that it's all right if a guy wants to follow you around and watch you sleep. Very bad idea.

Edward is the ideal of a tween turned into Meyers' idea of a high school rock god. Meyers' ideas of the glittering skin, vampire venom and Bella's tasty scent are far removed from traditional vampire lore. Venom, forsooth. Of course she wrote to a certain audience. TWILIGHT's lore belongs in a black hole.

Posted on Dec 7, 2012 5:30:24 PM PST
H. R. Holt says:
I believe there should be a balance - or it will be boring. LOL! My personal opinion, of course. Also, when writing a fantasy, you have to have the balance between the sexes, or you'll lose readers of whichever sex that you happen to degrade. Maybe it's just me, but I never really liked Arwen, and Eowyn was SO cool because she could fight. The movie turned Arwen into a fighter, which I didn't really like - because Eowyn was supposed to be the fighter. Still, there's the balance that you have to maintain. Arwen was strong in her own right, sure enough, but Eowyn rocks! She's one of the reasons I decided to write. GIRL POWER!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 10:23:59 PM PST
Robert Brady says:
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Posted on Dec 7, 2012 11:13:48 PM PST
JF says:
@Ramona: Thank you for writing back. I'm relieved I didn't offend you. Per Twilight -- I only brought it up as an extreme example of the pivotal role of an author's presentation of characters over story. I guess it worked. Twilight is a dreadful book. I concur that the lore (and the book series) belong in a black hole -- the outer space variety. Let us never mention it again. ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2012 6:10:10 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 8, 2012 6:10:39 AM PST
Peridot says:
Agreed. *spits venom in the general direction of Forks* If only it were possible to forget the lack of plot and the vapid, passive and ridiculously clumsy Bella as well. (A sad and thin pseudonym for 'Beauty.') We will never speak of it again.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2012 5:59:58 AM PST
Reader79 says:
Robert Brady - I am curious which books you feel have a "killer female" and "man trying to get in touch with his feelings." I read a significant amount of fantasy and none jump to mind. Will you share some examples?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2012 8:55:49 AM PST
Robert Brady says:
I don't know if you consider Xena/Hercules or Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be in the fantasy genre. Soul Protector, Guardian and First Confessor are three of the top five books in the Fantasy category in Amazon and appear to fall into this category.

A lot of this sway began on television, and television is simply NOT literature, but there HAS been a tendency for one to follow the other. Look at Dark Angel with Jessica Alba, and that's arguably a trend-starter. In movies, we're seeing Prometheus

Please let me reitterate - I'm not saying I have a problem with it. Writing tough chicks is fun and mine are REALLY tough. In Indomitus Est, Shela may be Randy's slave girl, but she can kick his ass, and he's the first one to say it. It gives me the opportunity to explore the dominance/submission dynamic by absenting brute force, and a lot of people like it. It's also a sub-theme to a larger message, not the guiding force of the book (ala John Norman).

Does this help you out?

Posted on Dec 9, 2012 10:54:57 AM PST
Peridot says:
Mr Brady, far be it from me to render advice, either in person or in print.

You may be unaware of this, but Amazon frowns upon self-promotion by authors in these threads. You've mentioned your titles in both of your posts. While it's delightful to meet an author on these boards, one should dislike having your interesting threads deleted due to content. It's happened in the past to authors posting here. Amazon's *quite* strict about these rules.

This is in no way meant to be a rebuke. This is informational only. Carry on, please.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2012 11:08:22 AM PST
Robert Brady says:
Forgive the self-promotion, in fact I meant it to reinforce a point that someone was actually asking me to make. I was hoping to show that my perspective came from my personal practice as well as my opinion

I hope that the good people at Amazon look at it to that end. I appreciate that you enjoyed the posts.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2012 12:14:03 PM PST
Robert Brady says:
In fantasy of any sort, here's what I find unbelievable (solely in the real of female heroes):

a 90 lb girl who kicks the butt of a 250lb gargantuan who's specifically trained to fight
a woman whose entire insight comes from her feminine experience, where that experience is implied rather than explained (because she was a woman, she KNEW, for example)
males who are defeated because, while they're successful and powerful, they're also so driven by their sexist leanings that they're vulnerable, but no one else sees it but a group of women

When I wanted to write about a woman succeeded in a man's world, I spoke to women who succeeded in a man's world. Shocking, I know. What I found is that women who fight in ju-jitsu (sp), who succeed in business, who compete in sports, and who win, find something unique in themselves and expand on it, but it's invariably their personality or something special in their upbringing, not their existance as women.

One of these, my English teacher whom I still correspond with 30 years after graduation, told me once, "The best thing you write will never be better than the worst research you do." I can honestly say that this has been one of my guiding principles in my writing career.

Another, a single mom whom I worked for in advertising way-back-when, told me that her success was driven by her wanting a better world for her daughter. Kind of a surprise coming from advertising, but it's in THESE anomalies that entice readers.

I say, "Let the 90 lb girl get her butt kicked by the 250lb gargantuan," and then let THAT make of her that specialized individual who goes on to achieve her goal. But I tell you, when it happens, expect the review, "Here's another writer, perpetuating the weak feminine stereotype."

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2012 12:35:12 PM PST
Donna says:
Ok, forgive me for jumping into this conversation but I have to agree with you, Robert. I do love a tough female protagonist but I must have something believable, something real, something that is the ratonal action a person would do. I read a book once (Hollowmen 2) where the female volunteers herself up for multiple surgeries (research) instead of her little brother and when she has had several surgeries, is laying on the table while the docs are in the middle of the surgery and the zombies overrun the place. The docs leave and she is there open on the table, no anesthesia had been used. Yes, not only would she be passed out from the pain but if somehow she wasn't how could she then knock over the operating table, get herself lose and sew herself up and then run off and fight zombies in the same day. It was just more than even I could make excuses for. I am not saying this is the female thing you are talking about, it could have been a man and I would still not believe it.

Now as for self promoting: You are contributing to the conversation here, supporting your views based on decisions you made in your own writing. In my view this is not self promotion. But I have a bit of a different view of this anyway. I believe that Amazon is shooting itself in the foot by banning self promotion, since those who then buy the self promoted book make money for both the author and Amazon (mostly Amazon, from what I have heard from authors). I know I am always looking for a good cheap book from Amazon. Cheap books (sometimes good)=indie authors.

Posted on Dec 9, 2012 12:45:18 PM PST
Kelly says:
Before one brings up martial arts - please note that in martial arts, one STILL competes in weight classes and separated by sex (sometimes not in kata, or forms - which is demonstration). They don't expect that 90 pound woman to have any chance against a 250 pound man. Size and strength DO matter. Now, when you are slinging spells? A lot different. Woman warriors make less sense in medieval or postapocalyptic dystopias ruled by muscle. Spellcasters don't need muscle.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012 6:34:13 AM PST
Reader79 says:
This discussion thread really intrigues me and I am happy that people have added to it. The original thread was asking about the lack of strong male characters in fantasy - and after reading all of these posts I still don't see it. I see strong(er) female characters in books written in the first person which means that all other characters will feel less well developed. The only TV/movie reference from Robert's thread that I am familiar with is Buffy. I thought Buffy did a great job of portraying several different male archetypes: the wise one, the geeky one, strong/silent guy and the arrogant and cocky vamp, etc. Yes the main character is female but the male characters were all very strong - in my opinion. In terms of the book references: I have only read Soul Protector and again this is written in the first person. The female lead is not particularly strong and the male lead is by no means weak or even emotional. In fact, as with many books the male protagonist in Soul Protector is portrayed as stronger and more knowledgeable than the female lead.

I can appreciate that many readers feel that their fantasy worlds need some sort of world building that explains heightened female strength, but I do not. When I read fantasy I can easily accept that a 250 lb man with a sword can defeat a four ton, fire breathing dragon. I can accept that a 13 year old boy with very little training can defeat a powerful wizard with courage, smarts and team work. One of the most universally held truths is that everything dies but in fantasy I easily accept immortality. It is easy for me accept heightened strength in my female characters in fantasy - if an author tells me that my heroine has mad skills and the desire to use them - I just accept it (and love it!).

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 11, 2012 5:52:33 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 11, 2012 5:56:14 PM PST
Peridot says:
Ms Donna, there are forums where authors *are* permitted to promote their own works. Herein it is forbidden. As was indicated above, the information was meant only to elucidate.

Pray look to the author forums if you're interested in searching out low cost books from indie authors. You will find what you seek there.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 11, 2012 5:57:18 PM PST
Donna says:
Yes, MS Ramona, I do know that. However I shall continue to state my views, which are as stated. In my view it is a win win situation for Amazon and authors.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2012 10:28:18 AM PST
nextrick says:
Try reading, The Pain in the Ass Dimension with Dagon Jamm and mebella Sabeil.

Posted on Dec 17, 2012 2:33:02 PM PST
As a female, I like strong female characters (Wheel of Time is a good example), but I am also fine with a story containing mostly male characters.

Posted on Dec 17, 2012 10:05:45 PM PST
Complex, realistic, and potent male and female characters? Read Erikson's Malazan series and possibly Frank Herbert's Dune books, if you can get past the sometimes over the top sexual imagery.
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Discussion in:  Fantasy forum
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Initial post:  Nov 4, 2011
Latest post:  Dec 22, 2012

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