Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB
These thoughts on writers’ “Damsels in Distress” were purloined from a panel at the Light, the Universe and Everything [LTUE] Conference of 2013, comprised of Rachelle Christensen, Robert J. Defendi, Danyelle Leafty, and Robison Wells.
1. The old trope of a girl to be rescued [i.e., Guenevere, etc.] goes way back: a young regal/ noble/gentile woman who needed protection from the Bad Guy who threatens the woman (or a child) early in the story.
2. In today’s writing world the Damsel in Distress needs to be twisted: it’s not what you’re thinking! (Well, it could be, but . . . )
3. . . in the new trope, sometimes SHE should “save” the HE-ro, because SHE now has increased education and/or strength.
4. But has SHE become too feisty now? Maybe SHE’s too independent?
5. SHE, the woman, should be competent and working for her own salvation in some way, even though SHE may need help.
The Difference between Jane & James Bond
6. We can kill a lot of men with little effect on population growth (yet we may empathize with the male more if he is young).
7. But we still connect with a need to protect the woman—as “Mother” of the country.
8. This culturally significant fact should be used; for instance, Israeli’s orders to military units would be ignored if their women warriors were in danger; a mother will do the same if her child is in trouble.
9. Your Damsel and/or Hero needs to grow organically from the story.
10. Women can be confident within their own realm (see Gail Carson’s books). Create situations, regardless of gender, where we care about characters; even (or especially?) if they are children (also see Kim Hudson’s The Virgin’s Promise).
11. Today’s writers can also have alternatives to someone needing “rescue”:
12. i.e., Personal Stakes, applied to more than just the Main Character [MC]—think Katniss, in The Hunger Games, as “Damsel in Distress” who can kick a**, but is still vulnerable.
13. What do your characters of each gender have as “different” priorities? Learn to use those priorities as weapons and as vulnerabilities.
See you day-after-tomorrow for Saturday’s Softcover!