Let’s Get Real/Sorry Ladies

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Let’s Get Real Have you ever picked up a book, started reading it, and noticed that certain characters had special qualities that they were very fortunate to have?  Or perhaps a character had a property that was totally unrealistic, or at least rather annoying or lame?  Perhaps you’ve read a book where a woman was randomly stronger than a guy when they were practically having a wrestling match.   Or perhaps a male character described as really tough and grim acted really whinny or wimpy.

Perhaps you’ve never encountered a book like this; chances are it’s because the books weren’t very popular for generally the same reasons mentioned above.

Now, what is the moral of the story?  Don’t create characters that can do unrealistic things, and don’t have characters that aren’t really true to who they are or how you describe them.  Writers that try to make someone too cool or too heroic when that person really shouldn’t be fail to possess a necessary facet of logic that all stories should have.  A medieval peasant can’t randomly develop a talent for fighting with a spear, a modern, lazy teenager can’t somehow become amazing at handling a pistol, and a regular ninja can’t unlock his chi better than anyone else unless he has a good reason.

Just to give you some friendly advice, if your main characters start out as nobodies but must become super-tough warriors, make sure they have a lot of training instead of just relying on the, “Oh, he just happens to be a natural at swordsmanship/shooting a gun/magic”.

Sorry Ladies

Let’s think about the different skill-sets that male and female characters have.  Who is usually physically stronger, a man or a woman?

Let me give you a hint: it’s not a woman.  I am not trying to be offensive, but to give you some more friendly advice, be careful with how you form your female characters.

Who is usually more physically fit?  Who is usually the better warrior?  Who is better at fighting with a sword?  Who is better at handling a gun?  A bow?  A spear?  Questions, questions, questions…

Allow me to clarify something: when choosing the skill-sets for your female (or male) characters, make sure you don’t make a bad decision.  It’s more likely for a woman to fight with a gun than to be good at hand-to-hand combat (unless you’re Black Widow).   It’s more likely that a woman would find it hard to wield a sword as well as a man.  Female characters, unfortunately, have a smaller skill-set then men; I’m sorry ladies, but it’s true.  Action stories with main characters as females tend to portray them as women who can fight just as well as the next guy…literally a guy.  Unfortunately, this is realistically, and probably statistically, untrue.  Women aren’t necessarily meant to be warriors; you can tell by how a woman’s body is built.  Men, on the other hand, have bodies built to protect (or assault).

I hope I’m not disappointing too many of my female followers.  Don’t worry, however; there is a solution.  Although there are certain things that women cannot easily be portrayed as doing, there are some things that are perfectly fine for warrior-women to do: Use long-range weapons. In spite of the fact that I’m not a fan of The Hunger Games, I have to respect Katniss for being such a talented warrior.  Suzanne Collins accurately displays the skill-sets of her characters. katniss

Think about it.  Katniss doesn’t run around in the Hunger Games and hew people down with a sword.  She doesn’t do cart-wheels and somersaults and crazy drop-kicks.  She uses a bow.  Another competitor in the Hunger Games, Clove, uses knives to kill her opponent.  But she doesn’t use the knives in hand-to-hand combat style; she throws them.  Likewise, for Collins’ male characters, Peeta and Cato use their strength to survive the bloody battles of the Hunger Games, and each of them uses a weapon that requires the strength they possess. When creating female characters, be careful with just how physically capable they are.  Although my book does indeed have warrior-females (it’s okay, they’re elves), I think it’s always nice when women are portrayed as they really are: sweet, gentle, and peace-loving.



14 thoughts on “Let’s Get Real/Sorry Ladies

    Elizabeth M. said:
    June 15, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    True. Annoyingly true. 😉 But when you said that female characters have a smaller skill-set than men, that’s not necessarily true. Women may not have as many warrior/fighting/physical abilities, but they have plenty of other skills and talents.

      Aul responded:
      June 15, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      Yeah I probably could have phrased it differently. I just meant skill-sets relating to physical combat.

        Elizabeth M. said:
        June 16, 2014 at 6:56 AM

        Thanks for clarifying!

        Aul responded:
        June 18, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        You’re welcome!

      Elisa said:
      June 20, 2014 at 6:18 AM

      I agree! But, I must say that I am actually quite good at hand-to-hand combat. Woman have the advantage of being faster than men due to weighing less (sorry men). I am much better than a lot of boys I spar with, because, while they are stronger than me, I am faster, and able to dodge their attacks (I am also rather strong myself). Unlike what is often portrayed in books, in a real street fight, it is optimal to be fast. In a street fight, it is about the time it takes you to attack and then retreat, as opposed to the strength of your attack. If you can knock the opponent on the ground and then escape the situation, it really doesn’t matter if your attack is weaker than another person’s attack. No offense meant to Aul. I agree with the archery and gun attacks. Woman should avoid close combat if possible. As for sword fighting, woman, being lighter on their feet, have the advantage in fencing with light rapiers, while they would be weighed down by a heavy battle sword. It all depends on the distance, situation, and weight of the weapon. Sorry for such a long comment.

        Elisa said:
        June 20, 2014 at 6:23 AM

        Oops, I don’t actually have a website. I didn’t think it would register “None” as a website. Sorry!

        Aul responded:
        June 20, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        No worries 🙂

        Aul responded:
        June 20, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        Haha don’t apologize for the long comment. Thanks for taking the time to read and write a reply!
        I understand what you mean when you say women are quicker, and while I agree that most women are quicker, I feel like they don’t always live up to that potential and men can gain the upper hand. I think it’s awesome that you are good at hand-to-hand combat, but I’m assuming you’ve had training. There’s nothing wrong with women being good at fighting when they are trained, I’m just saying that when they’re fighting to the death (not necessarily a street fight), guys usually have the upper-hand. I also mean no offense. Thanks again for the reply!

    chidiscosaffair said:
    June 15, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    True, some writers end up making their characters superheros in the process of trying to make them look merely heroic.

    photofoxed said:
    June 15, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    I left a comment in the community pool. If you want I can put it over hear too. Good read. Thank you.

    proverbs31teen said:
    June 15, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    Very, very true. I’m working on a story, (well, two stories, and I guess it kind of applies to both) and, in one of them, the characters have Gifts that they use to fight with. I have two main character girls, and this is good to keep in mind with them. In the other story, I have a warrior-type girl, but she’s supposed to be wonderful in hand-to-hand combat, fighting, and that sort of thing. I like that you mentioned the Black Widow, because, that’s bascially the type of character mine is. Although with more of Iron Man’s sarcastic quips. Thanks so much; great post!

      Aul responded:
      June 18, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      Thanks so much for reading! Your book sounds awesome. 🙂

        proverbs31teen said:
        June 18, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        Thanks. Hoping it will actually be a novel, not just another novella. 😉

    Aul responded:
    June 18, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Hey you and me both 🙂

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