One of the crucial phases a writer goes through is garnering criticism from peers and beta readers, but when you’re putting your work out there, some degree of cynicism is essential.
Indeed, it is crucial for a writer to identify what advice to take and what advice to take with thanks as you slowly back away, holding their notes to your chest, before bidding them farewell, closing the door, and shoving the toxic lot in the bin. And setting it on fire.
Seriously though, it’s a skill. Every writer needs to master it, else you’ll either disregard everything and never improve, or end up writing by committee – and NOBODY wants that.
LE Henderson has an excellent post on her blog Passionate Reason about the Seven Types of Writing Criticism to Ignore.
For those of you who don’t know, audiences have been crying out for “strong female characters” for years now, and we’ve been treated to ever stronger and more kick-ass women on screen since. But is beating men to a pulp and cutting off their cocks really what critics were calling for?
Not exactly, according to the blog Jo Writes Stuff.
In her excellent and ongoing series, Jo takes fictional female characters and puts them through the grinder: her self-devised, 10-question assessment.
- Does the character shape her own destiny? Does she actively try to change her situation and if not, why not?
- Does she have her own goals, beliefs and hobbies? Did she come up with them on her own?
- Is her character consistent? Do her personality or skills change as the plot demands?
- Can you describe her in one short sentence without mentioning her love life, her physical appearance, or the words ‘strong female character’?
- Does she make decisions that aren’t influenced by her love life?
- Does she develop over the course of the story?
- Does she have a weakness?
- Does she influence the plot without getting captured or killed?
- How does she relate to stereotypes about gender?
- How does she relate to other female characters?
I came across her blog when Scarlet Johannson’s portrayal of Black Widow had won so many plaudits for being one such Strong Female Character she was to star in her own Avengers movie; but to me, she’d seemed utterly at odds with the idea of feminist depth, bemoaning her scars and referring to herself as a monster for her inability to bear child.
Lo, Jo had given Black Widow the 10-question treatment, and this is what she found.
Here’s a list of all the others. Her examination of Trinity is particularly good.