Frequently Asked Questions

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!

 

What gave you the idea for this blog?

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.

 

Do you make a profit from this blog?

No, and I don’t plan to.

 

Why don’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 do you choose which character you’re going to look at next?

Total pot luck.

If I’m doing a themed month or want to mark a big occasion, that narrows it down a bit, but honestly it just depends on which character I feel like talking about next. I tend to prioritise characters I’m already familiar with over ones I don’t know, and sometimes I’ll try and talk about a character if it’s a timely/appropriate occasion to do so, but otherwise there’s no system to it at all.

 

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 is 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.

 

Are there any characters you won’t put through the test?

I’m not going to look at any fictional versions of real people. My test is not intended to be used as a way to make judgements on personalities – simply as a way of examining how well-written female fictional characters are. I’m not going to break that rule by putting a fictionalised version of a real person through that test because, frankly, it’d be really rude.

 

I suggested a character, how come you haven’t looked at her yet?

I maintain this blog alongside a full time job, so that’s probably why.

It takes time to put a blog post together – especially if I have to read through a new book series or watch a bunch of films in order to do it. If you’ve suggested a character that I’m not familiar with, it’s probably going to take me a while to get round to putting her through the test. As much as I’d like to spend all my time reading or watching new TV shows, I just don’t have the time.

 

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 in these posts, 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?

 

How come you always include pictures of cats and hot male celebrities?

4
BAE. (image: shortlist.com)

I know what I like.

 

Anything else you’d like to know? Leave a comment!

 

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