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  1. #16
    Legendary Pokemon クリスタル's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    Even if you feel too tiresome to read, then watch. Watch the movies, the cartoons, the animes, the TV series, etc. Or even read the mangas, or play the story-based games if you don't like to watch. Because your problem is seems to be more about character establishment and character in-story purpose, rather than literature and language problem that is specific for writing novels.

    The basic rules and guidelines to develop believable characters for fictional work is exactly the same, regardless of what kind of medium the fictional work was presented. Whether it is for novel, movie, TV series, anime, manga, or even game, the rules of producing well-established and believable character is still the same.
    Hence when you are reading a fictional novel, or watching a fictional show, or playing a fictional game, take a look of how the characters in the works are presented. Note about the purpose they serve in the story, how they interact with other characters, how their existence progress the story, etc.



    BTW, if you feel like wanting a reference of such "strong and logical-minded female character", I would suggest you to take a watch of the Tomb Raider movies, or play the Final Fantasy XIII game.
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  2. #17
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    I kind of have a similar problem, only reversed—my male characters tend to come out one- or two-dimensional, while my female characters are usually strong and fully developed. Furthermore, the vast majority of my women are cast as heroes, while the vast majority of my men are cast as villains. Exceptions exist on both sides, but they are few and far between. I think it's because my male characters are often culled from selections of my own personality traits, whereas my female characters are written as the kind of people I'd like to have in my life.

    Take, for example, two of my protagonist characters:
    • Willis ra Teremolve (The Elder Scrolls): Formerly apprenticed to an Orc battlemage, his sole ambition is now to kill said battlemage to save Nirn from total destruction and simultaneously avenge his dead sister. He literally seems to have no other interests. While he is noted to be married with two children, the story behind this remains unwritten.
    • Annie Jameson (Pokémon): While her most highlighted trait is her love and aptitude for all things technological and, consequently, her ambition to have a career in computer engineering, many other facets of her personality are defined as well: she is a skilled percussionist, enjoys rock and techno music, finds dresses and skirts highly impractical, doesn't drink very often (but prefers Dos Equis when she does, dohohoho), loves making friends of both sexes and is terrified of clowns (which is a problem, since one of her closest friends has a Mime Jr. as her main Pokémon), but not horror movies (which mostly make her feel sick instead of fearful), among many other little details. Unlike Willis, she doesn't exist for the sole purpose of moving the plot, but she will participate if there happens to be a plot nearby.


    These are the examples that I feel best demonstrate my problem. And for the record, I did try gender-flipping Annie and three of her friends once, but....I couldn't take my mind off of how they would react to being gender-flipped. It wasn't pretty.

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  3. #18
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    The only way to write a strong woman is to not bother mentioning the gender in the first place. Don't even bother thinking of the gender and just write an awesome story. Hell, let the reader think their reading about a dude and drop the bomb in the end so that they can see how sexist they are for thinking it was a dude.

    Someone probably already gave this answer, but this isn't a post that needed more than 1 page to answer in the first place.


    Average Male:
    "Gee, how do I write about a girl that isn't too girly?"

    PiccoloX83:
    *flips table to reveal he's wearing a skirt*
    "That's how! 'Tee-Hee' mother f@^%#r!"
    *poorly positioned Captain Morgan pose*
    image.jpg

    The End... <3


    Kidding aside, this example I gave is still 100% viable simply by replacing "he" with "she". You can throw in romance later for the media pigs to squaller in.
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  4. #19

    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    "Strong female lead" is a difficult term to define. In most cases, women are physically weaker and more vulnerable than men. Therefore, successful strong women tend to be those who can fight smarter, not harder. Often their battle is emotional, not physical, and they have profound inner strength. Diplomacy is often a strong point, too. I find female characters who make the most of their gender differences the most appealing. Sometimes, things just need a woman's touch.

  5. #20
    Cute Combatant Niji's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    @WindBlast; I'd thought this might interest ya.

    Heh, funny that I came across this topic just after theme-ing a "strong female character," so to speak hence the "Don't Screw Up, Writers!" in my sig.
    Quote Originally Posted by Srebak View Post
    I'll just cut right to the point, i'm starting to think that i don't know how to write strong female characters (lead or supporting).
    Ah, here we have an example of the task of writing for the opposite gender. I forget the source, but one English teacher (maybe??) once talked about how most of their male students, although angrily denying they were sexist, seemed to have great difficulty writing female characters, but all of their female students wrote male characters with ease. I'm not trying to sound condescending. It's good that you're making a conscious effort to improve your writing of female characters, which is very important. There are also a number of male writers who do write female characters very well. It's just a problem more than one would think.

    There are an infinite number of ways to be a man, and an infinite number of ways to be a woman. There are women who long to fall in love with a man, women who long to fall in love with a woman, women who like the idea of love, women who hate the idea of love, and women who couldn't care less about it. There are women who think they're the most ravishing sight to behold, women who fight tooth and nail to be thought of as beautiful, women who don't fuss much over it, and women who only bathe in the blood of their enemies. Some want love or beauty, some want money or power, some want happiness for themselves or for others, some want answers, some would die to protect secrets, some want to feel like they're good enough, and some want to use and abuse every foolish human.

    I'd recommend watching stuff with well-written female characters and taking notes on all the variety in their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, their "masculinity" and "femininity," ect. Also just observing real-life women; maybe even asking some questions. Try to represent women as diverse as the ones you know in your life. Have ones who are aggressive, nervous, honor-bound, lazy, intelligent, impractical, or heck, even all of the above! People all have a lot of traits and a lot of life experience, making us all crazy-complicated! We have traits that contradict one another. I'm a protective, generous, non-sports-playing, sensitive, shy vegan who writes horror, is fascinated by pictures out of hospital records, listens to heavy metal, dislikes romance, loves first-person shooters, and wants to be a body builder! Don't be afraid to copy a lot of traits from girls you know. Art imitates life, as they say. Keep their characteristics in mind until you have a good sense of them as a person. Don't let them let go of their desire for solitude, their anger, their disgust for cute animals, whatever! Give their character justice! They're their own entity, so don't go bending them to your own will.

    Also, take a minute to read a few classic character descriptions and episode summaries I've gathered from some Wikis!
    Now, just try thinking about and picturing Nate, Yuki, and James for a bit. Now imagine they were gender-bent. Sure, a fierce and reckless girl, a both meek and male damsel-in-distress, and a violent and angst-ridden girl are more unusual, but they can still be characters all the same.

    And finally:


    If you ever want to talk more about it, you could always shoot me a message with more specific questions, or for any advice :) !
    Quote Originally Posted by Glitchipedia View Post
    I kind of have a similar problem, only reversed—my male characters tend to come out one- or two-dimensional, while my female characters are usually strong and fully developed. Furthermore, the vast majority of my women are cast as heroes, while the vast majority of my men are cast as villains. Exceptions exist on both sides, but they are few and far between. I think it's because my male characters are often culled from selections of my own personality traits, whereas my female characters are written as the kind of people I'd like to have in my life.
    You're certainly an unusual case. That's really interesting.... Sorry, I did go "Awwe" when reading the last part ^^; .

    Keep on kicking butt, Yuzu!

  6. #21
    "My life for yours." The Roach's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    While there have been a lot of good ideas expressed here, I keep seeing this same notion being mentioned. It's really troubling, because it seems to be becoming a trend in this modern age. This idea has popped up where gender is just an inconsequential part of a character; a simple matter of what set of genitalia they have and nothing else. As if gender plays no role in how a character behaves or acts.

    Now, I'm no writer, at least, not a master anyways, so I don't know how valid my opinion really is. However, when I see people mentioning "gender-flipping" I have to disagree. Gender shouldn't define a character - don't get me wrong. That's not what I'm saying. What I am saying is that gender shouldn't be treated as trivially as hair-color, or eye-color, or whatever. It's a important part of the character and how they view things, and gender plays a huge influence in how a character grows up, in turn affecting how they perceive the world around them and react to situations. If you can gender-flip a character with no consequence, then you haven't fully thought through what kind of character they are. Sure, you'll still have the basic personality traits, which is good, but you're changing a key defining feature of that character, and if that doesn't affect how they act, then it's not a very well-defined character.

    Men and women are different. This is a fact, and it's silly to just ignore it for the sake of "equality" or whatever people are spouting these days. There's a reason the saying goes "Men are from mars, women are from venus." It's because we're different; we think differently, we approach situations differently, we behave differently, and it influences everything about us. Again, it doesn't define us, but rather, it influences us. It seems to me like we're trying to homogenize the genders and say that everybody is the same, which is not true. Anybody who says they have no trouble writing for the opposite sex is either a master writer, or a bad liar. Of course it's going to be difficult, because you're trying to write from a completely different perspective. It takes a lot of practice to write a character of the opposite gender correctly. I've seen women totally screw up in writing male characters too (See also: the entire Twilight book series), so pretending that this is a male-centric problem is arrogant, in my opinion.

    Now, my mini-rant aside, it's a good thing that you're trying to make a real effort to write believable female character. Being a guy myself, I found it really difficult at first too, because like I said, I'm writing things from my male perspective. It takes practice, but just think of them in terms of actual people. Johan really hit the nail of the head in my opinion. You start with the basic framework, personality, quirks, likes, dislikes, etc... and then, when it comes to gender, try to think about how that would affect them. Think about the setting. Like, say you're writing a story about Puritan-era colonial williamsburg. Obviously, women are going to have a vastly different look on things in this era, and whether the character is a man or a woman is going to greatly influence their line of thinking. Think about the setting, the society they are in, the society they grew up in, and try to incorporate that into the character.

    Furhermore, I would also like to comment on this equally silly idea that writing "damsel in distress" characters is "sexist" or "wrong." Now, if you just write some bland, 2-dimensional woman character who exists solely as a prize for the man (or woman) to win, that's just bad writing. Give them a reason to be helpless, and give them a personality. If the character has a believable reason to be in distress, male or female, then it's not some great sin to have a character in need of rescue, even if it is a man doing the rescuing.

    Just my $0.02.
    Last edited by The Roach; 20th April 2014 at 09:23 AM.
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  7. #22
    Hive Monarch Rediamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    Glitchpedia: I have the same problem. Seriously. We need to talk about our inability to do justice to our own gender some time.

    Most of the time I avoid the problem by fleshing out basic characterization and then picking a gender. After that I factor in the role that gender would actually have upon that character in the real world. For example, there are some professions that are very male-dominated or very female-dominated in some places and times. It might be unusual for a character of a certain gender to be in the field and they might face unique challenges because of it. Accounting for those things is acceptable. When selecting a gender for a character significantly alters the personality or talents the character had before a gender was selected, there might be a problem.

    But the gender-flip test also doesn't work for every story. For example, having a male oracle in a story set in Ancient Rome would be really odd. Same goes for a female soldier in most time periods in European history. In these cases making sure your character has motivations and a personality and the other tests for character development is more helpful than a gender-flip test they would probably fail.

  8. #23
    Cute Combatant Niji's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    Quote Originally Posted by GastonGibus View Post
    Gender shouldn't define a character - don't get me wrong. That's not what I'm saying. What I am saying is that gender shouldn't be treated as trivially as hair-color, or eye-color, or whatever. It's a important part of the character and how they view things, and gender plays a huge influence in how a character grows up, in turn affecting how they perceive the world around them and react to situations. If you can gender-flip a character with no consequence, then you haven't fully thought through what kind of character they are. Sure, you'll still have the basic personality traits, which is good, but you're changing a key defining feature of that character, and if that doesn't affect how they act, then it's not a very well-defined character.

    Men and women are different. This is a fact, and it's silly to just ignore it for the sake of "equality" or whatever people are spouting these days. There's a reason the saying goes "Men are from mars, women are from venus." It's because we're different; we think differently, we approach situations differently, we behave differently, and it influences everything about us.
    I'm glad you made this post. I posted last night in a bit of a tired rush, and after getting in bed realized I didn't phrase some things as well as I could have XD . There are differences between men and women, most certainly, but I think they go for groups, not individuals. Picking out individual things such as different demeanor, behaviors, or mannerisms that apply to men as a general category, and women as a general category, you can find people of the opposite gender with these.

    I'm don't totally agree about the gender-flipping-with-no-consequence thing. Technically you couldn't really know how it would affect them. It's probably nearly impossibly to discern whether someone's traits are due to their gender, or separate from them, unless it's specifically something they were conditioned with. There's a spectrum of how "masculinely" or "femininely" a person's brain is wired. On the internet I've screwed around taking tests such as BBC - Science & Nature - Sex ID and S.A.G.E. Test. These together compare aspects such as people's communication styles, socialization styles, areas of mental excellence, and values on a spectrum of masculinity and femininity. On both tests I scored on the slightly feminine side of androgynous, which I find accurate, although neither test is perfect.

    If I were gender-bent, along with someone who was very "feminine" in every aspect, would she end up more "masculine" because of initially being the opposite, or would I end up more "masculine" because I was initially that way?

    For me the "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus," thing has always seemed a huge over-exaggeration and over-generalization. Some men interact with and understand most women better, and some women interact with and understand most men better. Around a lot of girls I feel like we're speaking an entirely different language, while I find a lot of guys who think very similarly to me. I know first hand that gender isn't always a huge part of every person's character. Some people are wired much more "masculinely" or "femininely" are totally baffled by the opposite gender, while for others they may only lean slightly towards one pole or the other. I believe my behavior would likely change a bit if I were male, but overall I'd still be me. I'd still obviously sit with my legs apart, shop in the men's section, like violent video games and shows, love banging my head to rap, be cool with eating food off the floor, and other stereotypical male traits I have, but it wouldn't change that I was sensitive and caring, as I was raised by a mother and father who were both very sensitive and caring people, and being a dude-bro wouldn't suddenly change this, nor would it change my unusually good external hygiene, as it's a matter of experiencing anxiety when I don't clean myself and brush my teeth several times a day, not "being tidy because I'm a girl" or whatever. So anyways, I believe "male" and "female" are simple labels that both encompass a spectrum, with definite overlap, so we can't make such generalizations about people. Depending on the person's brain and life experiences, gender doesn't play the same role in everyone's life.

    (Also, gender isn't equivalent with genitalia for trans people, a good thing to keep in mind.)

    Keep on kicking butt, Yuzu!

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    "My life for yours." The Roach's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    Quote Originally Posted by Niji View Post
    There are differences between men and women, most certainly, but I think they go for groups, not individuals. Picking out individual things such as different demeanor, behaviors, or mannerisms that apply to men as a general category, and women as a general category, you can find people of the opposite gender with these.
    Oh, absolutely, I agree. Like I said, their gender shouldn't complete define the character. My main point is that we shouldn't completely dismiss gender as inconsequential to a character. I actually find that I enjoy characters that step out of their gender's "usual" demeanor, like an effeminate male or a more masculine female character.

    But even then, when you have characters like that, you still have to take into account how they feel about their gender. Like, let's say I'm writing a more feminine male character, who isn't a "macho man" and has more decidedly effeminate qualities. How does he feel about his own gender? Is he comfortable with it? Does he wish he could be more masculine, or is he just fine with how he is? Even when you step out of "the norm" in terms of gender, it still plays a role.

    I'm don't totally agree about the gender-flipping-with-no-consequence thing. Technically you couldn't really know how it would affect them. It's probably nearly impossibly to discern whether someone's traits are due to their gender, or separate from them, unless it's specifically something they were conditioned with. There's a spectrum of how "masculinely" or "femininely" a person's brain is wired. On the internet I've screwed around taking tests such as BBC - Science & Nature - Sex ID and S.A.G.E. Test. These together compare aspects such as people's communication styles, socialization styles, areas of mental excellence, and values on a spectrum of masculinity and femininity. On both tests I scored on the slightly feminine side of androgynous, which I find accurate, although neither test is perfect.

    If I were gender-bent, along with someone who was very "feminine" in every aspect, would she end up more "masculine" because of initially being the opposite, or would I end up more "masculine" because I was initially that way?
    That is true. Again, I'm not trying to say that all people of a specific gender behave similarly. There are certain traits that are exhibited more strongly by one gender than another, but of course, it doesn't apply to everybody. Really it all has to do with the identity of the character in question. With the example above and the questions that were asked, those are very real things that a person would end up thinking. Gender, personality, upbringing, personal identity, these are all things that come together to truly define exactly who a person is, and how they think of themselves.

    For me the "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus," thing has always seemed a huge over-exaggeration and over-generalization. Some men interact with and understand most women better, and some women interact with and understand most men better. Around a lot of girls I feel like we're speaking an entirely different language, while I find a lot of guys who think very similarly to me. I know first hand that gender isn't always a huge part of every person's character. Some people are wired much more "masculinely" or "femininely" are totally baffled by the opposite gender, while for others they may only lean slightly towards one pole or the other. I believe my behavior would likely change a bit if I were male, but overall I'd still be me. I'd still obviously sit with my legs apart, shop in the men's section, like violent video games and shows, love banging my head to rap, be cool with eating food off the floor, and other stereotypical male traits I have, but it wouldn't change that I was sensitive and caring, as I was raised by a mother and father who were both very sensitive and caring people, and being a dude-bro wouldn't suddenly change this, nor would it change my unusually good external hygiene, as it's a matter of experiencing anxiety when I don't clean myself and brush my teeth several times a day, not "being tidy because I'm a girl" or whatever. So anyways, I believe "male" and "female" are simple labels that both encompass a spectrum, with definite overlap, so we can't make such generalizations about people. Depending on the person's brain and life experiences, gender doesn't play the same role in everyone's life.
    I agree with you, for the most part. I still think gender plays a more important role in the personal identity of a character than people realize though. Sometimes it's a conscious choice, and sometime it's sub-conscious and we don't even think about how it influences us, but it still does. Ultimately, like I said before, it can really come into play with how a character views themselves. How do they feel about their current gender? Do they wish they were more masculine/feminine? Are they comfortable the way they are? How does society treat them, and how do they react to that treatment? These types of questions can really help a character feel real, unique, and alive, even though they're just words on a page. It helps the character stand out and become memorable.

    (Also, gender isn't equivalent with genitalia for trans people, a good thing to keep in mind.)
    I know, I was just using that as an example. I've met people who thought that gender had nothing to do with a person other than what anatomy they were born with. I disagree, for reasons I've already mentioned.

    Anyways, I think the very fact that we're even having this discussion (on a Pokemon board no less, xD) shows that gender is an important topic, especially when writing. Though I have to say, I really do enjoy these types of conversations. :D
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  10. #25
    Cute Combatant Niji's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    Quote Originally Posted by GastonGibus View Post
    Oh, absolutely, I agree. Like I said, their gender shouldn't complete define the character. My main point is that we shouldn't completely dismiss gender as inconsequential to a character. I actually find that I enjoy characters that step out of their gender's "usual" demeanor, like an effeminate male or a more masculine female character.

    But even then, when you have characters like that, you still have to take into account how they feel about their gender. Like, let's say I'm writing a more feminine male character, who isn't a "macho man" and has more decidedly effeminate qualities. How does he feel about his own gender? Is he comfortable with it? Does he wish he could be more masculine, or is he just fine with how he is? Even when you step out of "the norm" in terms of gender, it still plays a role.
    Ah, I get what you're saying. Yeah, it's definitely still an identity, and should be treated as such. It still does hold a meaning, certainly more so than trivial details like eye color. And I agree that it does always play a role in one's life, at the bare minimum because of society's expectations. Everyone does still have a relationship with gender, and although generalizations like "male" and "female" can sometimes do more harm than good, a person's gender definitely holds some significance to them due to their life experiences.

    Quote Originally Posted by GastonGibus View Post
    Anyways, I think the very fact that we're even having this discussion (on a Pokemon board no less, xD) shows that gender is an important topic, especially when writing. Though I have to say, I really do enjoy these types of conversations. :D
    It's definitely a complicated one, which society still has muddled views on. Yeah, I'm glad! I really love this type of discussion too :) ! I just worry, especially online, that they'll become more of a clashing-of-opinions rather than trying to understand other people's views. Hostile debates are the opposite of fun, but sometimes hard to avoid when you like sharing and comparing thoughts on widely debated subjects, especially on the internet. I'm glad I decided to post here; it was nice to read your insights.

    Keep on kicking butt, Yuzu!

  11. #26

    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    I just don't know what it is, you guys; you've all given me advice that might help me with my Male Chauvinistic issues in my writing style, yet my brain seems to reject the very idea of even trying them out. I can't figure it, it's like my mind wants to remain stuck in a Male chauvinistic state of mind, which is wrong on so many levels.

    I don't want to be one of those sexist, anti-feminist pigs who are disrespectful towards women and see them as nothing more than objects to be won. I was raised by a single working mother with an incredibly dominant older sister for for goodness sake! Part of me probably started this thread so that i could hear someone tell me that i wasn't sexist, but if my state of mind is still the same as it was when i first posted, then i am sexist and i hate that so much.

    A good writer should be able to write characters that are their own people, not just generic love interests and damsels in distress. Disney made its share of movies and TV shows with no-nonsense female leads who could take care of themselves, yet my mind seems to be focusing on the movies/TV shows with male protagonists.

    I need to know: right here, right now, am i a sexist, anti-feminist pig?

  12. #27
    #1 Gumshoe Special Agent Looker's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    I don't think you're necessarily sexist or anti-feminist. It seems to me that you've simply internalized some of the misogyny and sexism that is ingrained in our society and media. That shit's hard to unlearn, take it from me. But not impossible.

  13. #28

    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    As i've said before, your suggestions seem valid, but for some reason, my mind and instincts just seem to be rejecting them. I can't figure it out

    I don't know why i can't flesh out the female characters like i try to do with the males, even though i know deep down that i should. I just can't help but focus on the boys. Though, in at least three cases, it's because i feel sorry for the boy.
    I don't know why i can't follow your advice and try out your exercises, there's just something inside me that won't even let me try.

    I guess when it comes down to it, I don't handle change or admitting when i'm wrong very well, that's just the way i am. I just don't want being Sexist to be apart of that statement, especially when it's because i'm doing something that felt okay at the time (the main female leading mainly being a love interest).

  14. #29
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    Quote Originally Posted by クリスタル View Post

    BTW, if you feel like wanting a reference of such "strong and logical-minded female character", I would suggest you to take a watch of the Tomb Raider movies, or play the Final Fantasy XIII game.
    I feel like those probably aren't the best choices...I mean, not to stereotype, but JRPGs and Hollywood video-game adaptations probably aren't the best source when it comes to strong female characters. Most of them are written by men to appeal mainly to young men, so it'll come across as a little biased. Speaking of Final Fantasy XIII, however, the character of "Fang" was at one point been a male character, and was in development changed to a woman, so there's I guess a good example of how a character's gender doesn't necessarily have to define them. Then again, Final Fantasy XIII also had the embarrassing Vanille, so, yeah, probably ignore it.

    I'd say it'd be better to search out more independent, smaller works---ones written by actual women and not focus-tested---as a good base for how women characters are written by actual women, and then go from there.
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    Default Re: My Male Chauvinistic writing style

    Quote Originally Posted by Garren View Post
    I'd say it'd be better to search out more independent, smaller works---ones written by actual women and not focus-tested---as a good base for how women characters are written by actual women, and then go from there.
    This is a good path to take. Independent works, especially by women (though not necessarily, take BONE as an example of a male-written work with well-rounded and strong female characters) tend to portray women better than more mainstream works.

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