Writing Journal: Introducing Sisterhood

492599If you follow me around in real life, on FaceBook, and or read my Blog, you will quickly realize that one of my favorite concepts in stories—right after the idea of the Undeserved Rescue—is Brotherhood. I love action flicks with a core group that would kill for each other. I love stories about enemies becoming inseparable friends. I love stories about cops and their partners. I love war stories because of the brotherhood concept. Band of Brothers is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, but I feel like you see this same idea play out, to lesser degrees, in StarTrek: NG, Firefly, Sherlock, and Chuck. It’s all about the person next to you. It’s all about the guy willing to spill blood to defend you, even his own. It’s what I love about Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. It is what I love about Lord of the Rings.

With all that said, it’s not surprising that my Fairytale has at least two brotherhoods forming in Book 1. I’m diligently working on a brotherhood within the antagonist’s army and a brotherhood centered around my protagonists. Since brotherhoods tend to form in the middle of intense situations like combat, and since I’m a bit conservative and think combat should be left to men, and since it typically has been left to men so men are the ones forming these brotherhoods, my protagonist is a male. In fact, most of the books I’ve written have a male protagonist.

Why?

Most of the books I enjoy reading have male protagonist. It’s not that there aren’t books with lead females out there. It’s not that women don’t have adventures. It’s just that I never find books and stories with lead females as interesting or as fun as I do the ones with lead males. This started back when I had a choice between the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Can you guess which one I picked? (If you guess Nancy Drew you need to start this article over and try again. 🙂 )

Why is this?

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I’ll be honest, and a bit hard on my own sex, I find stories with lead females a bit annoying. Either the woman is doing something completely ridiculous in some vain attempt to prove that she’s just as big and bad as the guys are, or she’s standing in a corner screaming with a phaser not three inches from her hand while her man gets beat to death, or she’s eye candy. There are very few stories where the woman is a woman. And the ones where she is being a woman can be a bit harder to make interesting because they can end up catty, manipulative, and self focused. I just don’t think they’re as fun as male driven stories. (And yes, if you’re wondering, I was a Tomboy growing up.) What it really came down to was boys had adventures and girls had boyfriends. I would rather have an adventure.

Me and my Bestie!

Me and my Bestie!

Then, a dear friend laid down a challenge. She pointed out the many wonderful relationships I have with other women. I’ve been blessed with a wise mother and extra mother, grandmothers, sisters, sisters-in-Christ, wise older women, and a very dear best friend, and many nieces. I have more dear women than I can possibly name in my life right now. I have women who are going before me into old age and widowhood, I have young women coming up behind me into marriage, life, and adulthood. I wouldn’t trade these women for the world. I love each and every one of them. My dear friend, who is a woman, asked me why I don’t have more of those types of female relationships in my books? They are some of the best friendships I’ve had, why don’t I mirror the brotherhood concept with a sisterhood concept? If I hated women being written just to have boyfriends, why was I doing the same thing. (Don’t read this the wrong way, I think loving a man and being loved by him, being married, is one of the most wonderful and rewarding relationships you can have.)

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I was floored. I couldn’t believe how long I’d missed the opportunity to share something that has always been a part of my life. Facepalm.

Again, I find myself beholden to a woman while I write about a man. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be: Women supporting women who are helping men? So now I’m weaving women together. I have a mother and now I have a GateKeeper and a few elements who are women, plus some other girls. I’m shooting for a story that has brotherhoods, sisterhoods, and also some marriages.

I hope to show the positive sides of women and sisterhoods without reducing them down to catty relationships. One of the things I hated most about the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan was his sisterhoods. Every woman in the book constantly manipulated the men around them for their own ends. It grew very frustrating. It was like watching all that is the worst part of you instead of being encouraged to be better. I want to have a story more like Lord of the Rings that makes you want to be a better person when you finish reading it.

With this challenge accepted, I will be working on my female characters. I will be exploring what makes women and men different and how those things compliment each other. I have some good books to read, good movies to watch, and of course some interesting personal experiences to draw from. Plus, I have a whole host of Godly women ready to help me! I’m gearing up and ready to go!

 

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16 thoughts on “Writing Journal: Introducing Sisterhood

  1. Can’t wait to see the women you create in your world. I imagine them working hard against the usual weaknesses to become women of valor (a term I learned from Pastor Steve in his study of Proverbs).

  2. I love this! Brotherhood is a HUGE draw for me too, in writing, reading, or movie/TV watching. I always chalked up my brotherhood-love to having only one brother and wondering what it would be like if we had had two or more – my sister and I had each other but he only had himself. So that brotherly camaraderie was a kind of relationship I felt like I didn’t get to see growing up. I don’t tend to write only male protagonists (I actually tend toward female) and I enjoy writing about female main characters, too. But I don’t focus much on sisterhood or female relationships! I should do that more often. Often the main females in my books are opposed to one another, rather than standing together in solidarity like the guy characters do.
    (Another reason I love to write about brotherhood is because of the way our society devalues male friendship. If two guys are very close friends, the gay jokes start flying. I HATE that, and I like to model healthy, close male friendships as an antidote to that. Girls are known to have close, loving friendships – with men, it tends to be rare.)

    • I totally agree! I hate the rare close make bond being reduced to gay jokes. It’s sick.
      I had two brothers and two sisters growing up and have close relationships with them all.
      I think women do tend to be at odds with one another. We tend to backbite and gossip about one another or be very harsh. We can also be coldly practical and very manipulative. All these things are in our characters. I hope to write women who overcome this.
      We also tend to be the hearth tenders which is another role our society devalues. We should be just as strong as men! Lol. But we aren’t. Our strengths lie in other places. I hope to show that as well.

      • I totally agree. My characters don’t tend to be backbiting, just distrusting of one another (actually, in both my major WIP’s, the main female character is fearful of the other female and the second one scorns the first). It just happens that they meet one another through unpleasant circumstances and then it takes them several books to learn to love and appreciate one another despite their unpleasant first impressions. Haha. I wonder if the fear/scorn relationships between them says anything about my own fears and sinful attitudes toward other women at times? Every character has his or her root in the author in some way!
        Women tend to be more emotionally-based than men. I think our relationships are more easily damaged and twisted by little things men wouldn’t think twice about. But when we are close, we are VERY close and fiercely dedicated to each other.

        • Yes! We tend to bond more easily but injure the relationship with our own hands as well. Women tend to do this with loving a man. We fall in and out of love more easily, but I do think we can be very dedicated as well. It’s all about balancing our strengths and weaknesses. One of my other goals is to avoid making really buff women my heroines. I want to use fantasy to show the honor found in being a hearth keeper. 🙂

      • That’s great! I’d love to see more of that in fantasy novels. 🙂 Heroines who are heroines not because of physical strength and buffness, but because of their…well…gentle and quiet spirits! 🙂

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post which I finally got to sit down and finish reading! I too grew up a bit of a tomboy–always drawn more to adventures than romance which I noticed even before I hit my teens meant favoring male-centered literature. Anne of Green Gables was an exception and this was partly due to the delightful friendship between Anne and Diana. Prov. 17:17 was always one my favorite scripture verses and strong friendships the theme I looked for first in books. And yes that’s why I passionately adore LOTR and Sherlock Holmes too. 😉 And now, I find the romances I love the most are those that begin as friendship and even after the relationship becomes romantic, are at the root, still a friendship. I love to see it all: male-male, male-female and female-female! But reflecting back on books I’ve read (or movies/tv shows I’ve seen), the one I have the hardest coming up with examples for is the female-female. (Frozen doesn’t count because as I said in my review of it, there really isn’t much substance to the sister-sister relationship, just sentiment.)

    I can’t wait to see how these brotherhood and sisterhoods play out in your novels!

    • Thanks! I wholeheartedly feel the same way! I’m reading a book called Fierce Women which is helping me understand the psychology behind my own actions and helping me design better female protagonists and antagonists. We’ll see how it plays out. I have a feeling it will show up more in later drafts. This first draft is pretty bare bones.

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