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Old May 31 2012, 02:37 AM   #12
Christopher
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Re: Female Captains poll

I refer the reader to the words of Greg Rucka:

The Quick Answer goes like this:

Q: How do you write such strong/well-realized/positively portrayed women?

A: I don't. I write characters. Some of those characters are women.

The Long Answer:

Writers don't write Men or Women or Dogs or Salmon. Writers write characters, and at our best, if we do it well and with care and with thought, we invest in those characters a spark of life, a realism and nuance that makes them believable and relatable. We seek to craft characters who inspire empathy, characters our audience will care for, and as a result, will care about what happens to them, and thus will share the journey we have charted. A story, after all, is the character's journey.

No character - no well-created character, at least - is defined by only one trait, by one aspect. Sherlock Holmes is not simply brilliant. He's also a malfunctioning human being who, perhaps ironically, possesses a strong moral compass and such a compulsion to pursue justice that it eclipses any fealty to the law. He's also a junkie.

Harry Potter is not the scar on his forehead, nor is Matthew Scudder solely an alcoholic, nor is V.I. Warshawski just a "female" private detective. Character is biology, countless cells and processes, many of them invisible to the naked eye, yet together forming a whole. A character's gender, like their religious upbringing or their faith, like their favorite book or food, like their sexual orientation and experiences, like their education and their childhood, is a component of character.

That said, some components certainly weigh heavier than others. Green eyes don't tend to affect character, unless that story is Big Trouble in Little China, for instance. But to define any character by gender alone makes about as much sense as defining a character by hair-color, or - ahem – judging a book by its cover.
So do we want to see "female captains," or do we want to see captains who are well-drawn characters with distinctive and varying traits, including different genders?
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