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Thoughts on writing strong female characters

'Science Fiction is still largely dominated by male writers featuring male characters.' Thank goodness this is no longer true! Where would we be, really, without the wonderful contributions to the genre by authors such as Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, James Tiptree Jr.? That only hits on a few and if you haven't read anything by these authors, I strongly recommend heading out to a local bookstore and giving one of their many works a read.


Still I encounter from time to time stories written by both men and women whom, while excellent writers with excellent ideas, seem to fall short on their portrayal of female characters. It's led me to think that I ought to make some comments on what I consider a strong female character. A strong female character doesn't have to be perfect or flawless in everything. Not only would that be tediously dull, but it doesn't allow much character growth and growth, learning, overcoming is something that's very important both to characters and to ourselves in our day to day.


What makes a strong female character is exactly what makes a strong male character, imperfections, growth, wants and desires that can or, better yet, can't be realized, and a voice of their own. There's a lot more that goes into a strong character of course and a lot more to say on the topic, but I'd start to ramble if I went on.


Generally I will dismiss a story if it features two or more of the following::


1) A female character portrayed only as a male love interest or a woman complaining that she will never be happy or content unless she finds a man.

2) A society or focus only on a character who degenerates or objectifies women and the women either accepts this, capitulates willingly to it, or we do not get enough indication of their own internal thoughts, desires, resistances.

3) Multiple female characters who fail to pass the Bechdel test. For those of you who aren't aware the Bechdel-Wallace test was invented to measure the representation of women in fiction. It applies three characteristics a story should meet. a) it features at least two women, b) Two women talk to each other, and c) two women talk to each other about something other than a man.


If more than one of the above categories applies to your current story then you may wish to re-examine your characters before submitting. There are, of course, so many more things which could be said, but for the sake of brevity, won't be.


In other news we have enough material to publish a decent issue which we hope will be out by August 30th. We're always in need of science articles by anyone with interest and enough general knowledge to write them and of course we look forward to new incoming submissions, we're looking now to fill our October issue and need plenty of poems and short stories.


Thank you all for being you and for your support of this magazine.


With Gratitude,

Tristan

-Editor

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