I’ve been getting asked a few questions lately. Here are the answers!
Who are you?
I’m a twenty-something History graduate working in publishing. I like reading, music, well-executed swordfights and long walks on the beach – wait a second, this isn’t OKCupid!
Why are you doing this?
Because it’s fun!
No, seriously. I really enjoy talking about fiction, whether that’s in the form of movies, TV shows or books, and I wanted a place where I could share my opinions online. So here it is!
Do you make a profit from this blog?
No, and I don’t plan to.
Strong Female Characters
What gave you the idea for the Strong Female Characters series?
I talked about this a little in my introductory post, but I’ll recap it quickly here. Basically, in the past few decades we’ve seen a real resurgence in ‘badass’ female characters, but often they’re just given the ability to kick someone in the face while back-flipping rather than any proper character development. To me, a strong female character is one that’s written well, rather than one that can punch her way through an entire army.
Why didn’t you stick to one type of medium?
When I started this blog I did think about only looking at characters from books, but in the end I decided against it. Stories themselves don’t stick to one type of medium! There are so many books made into films, and novelisations of TV shows, and adaptations across a wide range of platforms. I soon realised that sticking to one particular area would end up getting quite tricky!
How did you come up with the ten-question test?
I just made it up. I read around the subject a little and put together a test that draws on general writing advice and some of the common problems that female characters tend to face. I did take inspiration from other sources – I got the idea for question ten from the Bechdel Test – but the ten-question format, the phrasing and the pass/fail mark is all my own.
Why was your pass mark so high?
Because I think writers should aim high! I don’t think it’s too much to ask for – stories are so much richer when they include well-rounded, well-developed characters.
Can I use your test for my own characters?
I’m very happy for individuals to use my test for their own original characters, but I’m not comfortable with my test being used in other circumstances. It might only be a hobby, but I put a lot of work into this blog.
I suggested a character, how come you haven’t looked at her yet?
The Strong Female Characters blog series is now over! I won’t be looking at any more new characters.
Why do you have a problem with traditionally feminine characters?
I don’t – I have a problem with poorly-written characters. The fact of the matter is that lazy writers often fall back on gender stereotypes when writing female characters. Rather than developing a female character with a unique range of motivations, weaknesses and interests, it’s much easier to fall back on clichés that readers and audiences alike have already come across. It’s often quicker and easier for a writer to lean on these tropes because we expect them to be there – but much like a crutch, when you take them away such characters really can’t stand up on their own. When a female character is built using stereotypes as a key ingredient, to a certain extent they stop being a character in their own right. They start to become more of a representative of things ‘everyone already knows’ about women, rather than a unique individual who should be examined on her own merits. We can do better than that.
Why do you always point out the bad stuff? Don’t you think you’re reading too much into it?
I try to be as neutral as I can, but ultimately this is an opinion-based blog. I’m being honest about what I think of all these characters and sometimes that’s not always complimentary.
Also, I’m of the opinion that pointing out the bad stuff is the only way that we’re going to get better stories. Thoughtful criticism is one of the most useful things a writer can receive – if you don’t know where you’re going wrong, how can you begin to put it right? And what’s more, there have been numerous studies that show how the media we consume influences our view of the real world. If the stories we’re reading make people believe bad things about women, why shouldn’t we point this out?
Why did you decide to end the series?
It was just too much work. I maintain this blog alongside a full-time job and I do a lot of other things with my time (like writing stuff of my own and learning Russian). Writing a post on a new character every week just took up too much time – I had to delay starting a project by two months because of the work I was putting into this blog. Seeing as I don’t want to be a full-time blogger, that was a problem.
What gave you the idea for this series?
I read a lot, which makes it easy for me to spot patterns in certain kinds of books. Once you’ve seen it you can’t unsee it! But pointing out the cliches and putting them on display is something I find quite entertaining, so the idea kind of grew from there.
Is there any book genre you wouldn’t make fun of?
Non-fiction and autobiographies are out, obviously. Other than that I wouldn’t want to do misery memoirs or erotica, but that’s about it.
Why are you making fun of these books?
It’s how I show affection.
No, really. I know I can be a bit harsh sometimes but it is all coming from a place of genuine enjoyment.
How come you always include pictures of cats and hot male celebrities?
I know what I like.
Anything else you’d like to know? Leave a comment!