Friday Feast: In Defense of Villainesses, Women Taking Charge, a Writer’s Guide to Hacking the Reader’s Brain (in 5 Steps), the Importance of Empathy as Craft, and What Happens When a Book Is Fatally Flawed

evil-stepmother-1-e1470353880271Maybe it’s because I’m writing a novel with two female leads who flirt with a whole heap of trouble. Maybe it’s because of the stunningly sexist commentary from the Olympics and the policing of women’s bodies on the regular. Whatever the reason, I’ve got ladies on the brain this week (among other things). Good or bad, I love them and want more of them in my books in all of their three-dimensional glory.

Let’s start off with a fantastic post by Sarah Gailey on all those devious women we want in fiction (and in life, because fun).

  • “We look at female cartoon villains and we see what’s forbidden: ferocity…  She’s too good for this game, too smart for her boss, tired of getting stepped on. She gets mad and she gets even.” In Defense of Villainesses. Yesssssss…
  • In Women Taking Charge, Alice Mattison lays down all the things she wants in her working ladies. But this applies to all women in fiction. “I want a female main character with power. And I want her to do harm, because there’s no story without trouble. A woman in charge in a novel needs a problem—a problem that, if it doesn’t ultimately lead to disaster, might lead to disaster.” So much yes!
  • “A story isn’t about what someone does, it’s about why they do it. Only by diving deep into what someone is really struggling with as they make a hard, unavoidable decision, can we reap useful intel on what it would actually be like to be in that situation ourselves.” Lisa Cron offers A Writer’s Guide to Hacking the Reader’s Brain (in 5 Steps).
  • Are you trying to hack into the brain of a protagonist or reader who is nothing like you? According to Brandon Taylor, there is no secret to writing about people who do not look like you. “The solution to problematic stories, both at the level of craft and at the level of human experience, is empathy.”
  • Author Delilah S. Dawson wrote a draft of a YA Space Opera. Sounds awesome, right? She trunked it. She explains why and what happens when a book–your book–is fatally flawed.

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