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StephenT [userpic]

Writing female characters

27th January 2010 (11:19)

I've written 46 Buffyverse stories longer than 200 words. Of these:

35 had a female main protagonist or POV character - 76%
30 passed the Bechdel Test - 65%
44 had at least one female protagonist - 96%

So my recommendation for the people on metafandom  complaining about the lack of interesting women characters in fanfic is - become 'Buffy' fans! :-)

More detailed breakdown under the cut for those who like statistics.


The stories of mine which definitely pass the Bechdel Test ("Two women have a conversation which isn't about a man") are:

Intrusion (Willow and Kennedy)
Hiywan's Story (Hiywan and Biftu, Heran, her mother, Esyete and Haymanot)
From Ancient Grudge (Willow and Faith)
That Kiss (Buffy and Willow)
That Other Kiss (Buffy, Willow and Tara)
Product Placement (Willow and Dawn)
For A Few Kisses More (Buffy, Willow and Tara)
Netherlands to Nepal (Willow and Dawn)
...And Shopping (Satsu and Buffy)
Unstylish Yet High-Priced Boots (Satsu and Buffy)
Stockton Gala Days (Faith and a female OC)
Legally Dead (Willow and Kennedy)
And All My Secrets Laid Bare (Willow and Saga Vasuki, Kennedy and Tara)
Matthew 1.23, Except Not (Buffy and Willow)
We Just Declared War (Buffy and Ellen Ripley)
In Sure And Certain Hope (Willow and Kennedy)
Past Imperfect, Present Conditional, Future Tense (Buffy, Willow and future!Buffy)
Performance Review (Kennedy and Satsu)
One Day In The Life Of Buffy Summers (Buffy -in the last chapter- and Willow)
What Can Change The Nature Of A Man? (Ravel, Buffy, Kennedy and Willow)
Lost And Found (Kennedy and Buffy, via email)
(Dis)Connection (Buffy and Faith)
Retrograde Tactical Manoeuvre (Willow and Honor Harrington)
Which Of You Is The Man? (Willow and Kennedy)

The ones which don't are:

Hell's Heart (Only one female character, Faith)
Learning To Drive  (Only one female character, Drusilla)
Angel And The Dragon (Lessa is female and she talks to her female dragon, but it's about Angel)
Stealer of Souls (no female characters)
Getting In The Game  (Only one female character, Faith)
Dead Letter (only one character, and he's male)
Caught Sleeping (only one female OC character, who doesn't speak)
On The Whispering Wind (only one female character, Buffy)
It's Curtains For You, Slayer  (only one female character, Buffy)
I Am Destruction (only one female character, Hiywan)
Warning: Character Death (only one female character, Willow)
Majestic Creatures of Legend (only one female character, Dawn)
Behind The Mask (only one female character, Adelle DeWitt)
Blood, Some Of It Mine (only one female character, Hiywan)
Buffy's Little Secret (only one female character, Buffy. I assume her rocket launcher is not female.)
Brief Encounter (only one female character, Drusilla)

The following are judgement calls: (Let me know what you think!)

This Isn't About Hate
Amy has a conversation with The First, which is currently in female form (as her mother) but is not, technically, a woman. 
The Phonecall
Faith and Harmony have a conversation, but the subject is "Why are you answering Angel's phone?" I'm not sure whether to count that as a conversation about a man.
A Storm Coming In
There's a group conversation which includes Xander, but he mostly interjects a few one-liners while the bulk of the conversation is between female characters.  Also, one of the protagonists is a Terminator designed to look and act female but not technically a woman.
How Willow Discovered Online Porn
Again, there is a group conversation which includes Willow's father, but most of the talking is between her and her mother.
Once And Future
There's a very brief conversation between Willow and one of the Priestesses of Avalon, but our POV character doesn't hear what's said. (Though as writer, I know they're talking about Buffy).
Reorientation
Buffy and Willow have a brief private conversation with each other in front of Giles and Xander.


This is how many times I used each character as my main protagonist. Deciding that was usually easy, but sometimes difficult to decide; who is the main protagonist in an all-dialogue fic, for example? In such cases I tended to go for the one who had the most activity or speech, or the one who was asking the questions rather than answering them. So:

Buffy - 13 fics (28%)
Willow - 8 fics (17%)
Xander - 4 fics
Kennedy, Faith, Hiywan - 3 fics each
Angel, Spike, Satsu - 2 fics each

If you extend this to count the leading two or three protagonists in stories without a single POV character, it becomes:

Buffy - 17 fics
Willow - 14 fics
Faith - 6 fics
Kennedy - 5 fics
Xander, Satsu - 4 fics each
Spike, Hiywan, Angel, Dawn - 3 fics each
Drusilla, Tara - 2 fics each

Also for the record:
7 of my fics (15%) include explicit sex; one M/F, five F/F and one F/F/F.
Another six include a fade-to-black sex scene.

4 of my fics are all-dialogue.
4 fics are written in the first person (or first and second person in one case), 41 in third person.
8 fics are written in the present tense (not counting the all-dialogue fics), 33 in the past tense.
1 fic is written in found-objects form.

2 fics include no female characters at all: 'Stealer of Souls' only involves Angel and Elric (and Stormbringer), 'Dead Letter' only involves Xander (though even there, he's thinking about Anya for most of the fic even if she doesn't actually appear in it).

Comments

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 27th January 2010 15:34 (UTC)

about

Or "an ironic counterpoint to".

At least it would be if I wrote it. :-)

Edited at 2010-01-27 15:38 (UTC)

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