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Sunday, 6 October 2013

WRITING FICTION. THE WOMAN TEST.

I wrote this piece after I'd had more than enough of a tired format - quite a specific one. Plugging James Bond movies. Actress dazzles with smile on interview sofa. Talks about how strong her Bond character is.
   And I'm left wondering how much she can physically lift. Will she raise the movie up off the tired format of plugging itself in that one way?
   A few years after I wrote this entry, we were treated to the notion that the movie SPECTRE was a feminist film...as Bond went knocking around with a woman of roughly his own age.
   This is a woman whose husband Bond kills before sliding casually into her arms while what's left of the husband's corpse is still warm. Well, technically that isn't adultery.
   Monica Bellucci's character is spared the death Bond's sexual contact normally brings...presumably the movie-makers had one eye on a sequel that would bring her back for a spot of exposition.
   I'd believe SPECTRE was a feminist film if La Bellucci'd been paid the same rate as Daniel Craig trousered for appearing in that flick. Anyway...
   (This entry predated the release of SKYFALL by a few weeks, and the topic was on my mind.)

After blogging WRITING FICTION. THE KNIFE TEST, I decided to do a post on similar lines. (For more in that line, see WRITING FICTION. THE CHAPTER TEST. And for a piece on conduct, rather than typing, there's WRITING FICTION. THE CREEPY SEXIST DICK AUTHOR TEST.)
   This is a test of the fiction you write - though there is no straight pass/fail result. The test allows for a neutral outcome. You scribble a story. Ask yourself a question of the piece you wrote.
   In your story, does a woman (or female entity) say or do something meaningful?
   If the answer is yes, your story passes the woman test. And if the answer is no, chances are your story has failed the woman test.
   But bear in mind the following points...
   If you write a story with an all-male cast and you have no desire to shoehorn a female element into that story by the most awkward means at your literary disposal, then your story neither passes nor fails the woman test.
   Example. A World War Two submarine story. All-male cast. You wish to avoid the cliché of the submariner reading a letter from his wife - because that guy dies in his next scene if you take that path. IT'S THE LAW.
   Given that you don't shoehorn the female character into the story by that means, your story doesn't pass the test. But your set-up isn't an outright failure, given the stricture of the setting.
   Another example. You write some weird sci-fi stuff about asexual characters. Story doesn't pass, but technically that's not a failure either.
   And there you have the woman test. Keep it in mind when scribbling fiction. Try to avoid writing female characters who are there to make echo-sounds.

MAN: We must stop the atomic explosion!

WOMAN: Atomic explosion?

   Ever-questioning characters, who only exist to blunder through who, what, where, when, how, why, huh, are cardboard at the best of times. There's no need to up the cardboard quotient by dressing those characters in skirts, dumping all the meaningless lines on the ladies.
   And while I'm here, musing, do we really need boob-shaped armour on women? If that trend persists, we should see a little equality there by forcing armoured men to have cock-shaped padding downstairs.
   Next they'll be putting nipples on Batman.

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