Monday, March 7, 2011

Your Love Sucks, A Writing Adventure! Part One

Part One: Just Because You Have a Pussy, Does Not Mean You Need to BE ONE

Warning: possible triggers for rape survivors later on. Also cursing, judgments, and political incorrectness because I can.

I've been reading a lot of amateur and fan fiction lately (and often the two overlap), and I just have to say:


I am so sick of seeing an author's only recourse to developing a relationship involving making a normally badass chick vulnerable in a contrived way that directly relates to her woman-parts. Somehow, all her clothes are gone but this really revealing number. Somehow, a normally self-aware character gets taken by surprise. Somehow, despite this woman having previously gutted a zombie/fought a dragon/beat down a thug/kicked the ass of something-or-other, she suddenly finds herself in a situation where she can't fight back and is in danger of being raped, just so she can be saved by the attractive male character and it can spur on their relationship.

It's like their creativity is so bankrupt that they can't imagine how to get two people together without a damsel-in-distress-hero-prince scenario. It makes me wonder how they develop relationships in real life. Do they walk down dark alleys in the hopes that person-they-admire will swoop in and save them from armed muggers? They can't all be that stupid, because this shit keeps getting written.

The big go-to is rape, or, to be more precise: rape-that-happened-in-the-past or rape-that-was-going-to-happen-but-they-were-saved-from and rape-that-happened-and-you-will-comfort-me-from-it. Rape is huge in the amateur writing/fanfiction world, because it makes a strong character vulnerable and gives the chance for rescuing and emotional/mental healing. It is so rarely handled well that now rape has become almost impossible to handle seriously. And rape is serious, no matter what gender/sex is involved. Using it as an instant tragedy generator is really crass if you can't pull it off.

And, really, most people can't pull it off. I don't even know if I can pull it off and have spent weeks agonizing over its application and execution, and will spend probably months continuing to agonize about it. My writing is definitely still in the amateur spectrum, and that makes me worry about this kind of thing.

Yet, when I get comments like "i have a suggestion: Why not have [main female character] face something that leaves her unconscious or in an extremely vulnerable position and have [main male character] come to the rescue?" I just can't help but laugh and then share it with everyone. Because I'm a jerk, obviously, but also because it's so ridiculous. I had to figure out how to politely say "Thanks but FUCK NO" to the commenter, and then sit back and wonder if it's something I did wrong. Did I not make it clear that they are uncomfortable strangers? Did it seem like my female character would do anything more than thank the male character for doing his job?

For background, male character is a warrior, and so is female character. If one is hurt, the other is supposed to help the other. It'd be like falling in love with the mailman for bringing you the mail. How romantic, he did what he was supposed to. Granted, working in such close proximity can engender closeness and later feelings born from having to perform in tandem to complete a goal, but that would take character development and gosh we can't have that let's just snog.

Not to say superficial flings or spur-of-the-moment relationships can't happen, and can't be written well, but if what you're going for is love-ever-after and you don't even explore how ridiculous the entire situation is, and I mean that you had to make your female vulnerable because she couldn't connect with the guy when she was being badass, then I'm just not going to be able to buy into the happily-ever-after. Which, I suppose, I don't have to, since you're obviously writing it to fulfill your own fantasy and not in the pursuit of any free-standing merit.

And before you go into "that's the point of fanfiction" please remember I also included "amateur" fiction into this, and that if you didn't write your fanfiction in the hopes that others would read it, then you wouldn't post it on the internet.


  1. I love every single thing about this post. <3

  2. @Jezi - I'm glad, 'cause I've been ranting about it like crazy forever and needed to consolidate it. ♥

  3. I was on a panel about writing strong female characters when I was at a science fiction convention last November.

    The general consensus was that rape was a poor crutch for character development because of that instant vulnerability that you mentioned. It's like getting a plot coupon to tell the reader that she's going through a bad time.

    Personally I doubt I'd ever use it.

  4. @Hana - I believe rape can be used properly, just like any other tragic event in a character's life. But it can't be the focus, and it certainly cannot be every facet of a character, or they become very one-dimensional and the rape just becomes an obvious drama-ploy. In some instances, it would be weird if the character was not subject to molestation or sexual assault just because of the circumstances, but it shouldn't be the only focal point. This is, of course, just my opinion.

  5. Yeah, I'm not saying that it can't be used well, but too often it's used badly. :\ I find it very difficult to read a story with rape in it even if the story is otherwise very good.

  6. Okay, if you have male and female warrior characters, working together, why not simply build on the partner aspect of it? That bond is a powerful one. The male-male partner bond, ie cop shows, has been showcased many times throughout the years, there is no reason a man and a woman cannot develop the same bond, and if they choose, take it further. The 'Partner' bond is a powerful one, and one I think would work very well in that kind of a situation. That's what I tend to go for in my male/female characters. It's a situation of 'you can trust this person with your last coin, your first-born child, and your life with confidence.' Or to paraphrase from one of the old Dragonlance books, "Your are a strong wall I can set my back to as I wield my sword."

  7. @Kayeri - yep, that's the plan, instead of easy-shortcut-vulnerability-generator.