East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Getting at least the basics straight

A few months back, I was the witness of a surreal discussion among (male) writers about how to write (female) characters.
It was one of those things that REALLY make me feel like a rude mechanical that gatecrashed a party of fine intellectuals, because the guys brought up literary theory, polling the feedback of female beta readers and conducting interviews with control groups to be sure of “getting it right”, and then of course Jung’s theory of the Animus and Anima, yin and yang, Freud’s letter to his chiropractor and what else.
Real heavy stuff.

Now, I usually think about the women I have known in my life – friends and lovers, relations and acquaintances, teachers, co-workers, neighbors, strangers overheard on the train and at the supermarket.
Characters in books, films, comics.
For certain bits – like the name of certain items of clothing, current or past fashion trends, make-up and grooming, I do a spot of research.
The rest I make up.
So far nobody complained about my female characters.

But then last night, I was shown this…

And I think we need to talk.
So take a deep breath, stop laughing, and let’s talk.

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