Like many people, I’m an amateur writer. I’m not brilliant at it and have a lot to learn. In particular I’m recently becoming aware of the potential minefield that is writing characters who are ‘different’ to you in some way. In particular here, I’m thinking of gender. It is a pretty fundamental thing, and it will have an impact on a character’s personality and behaviour … and as I’m slowly beginning to realise, it’s very, very easy to completely get it badly wrong.
I’ve been trying to work on my depictions of female characters, as frankly, that hasn’t been all it could be. I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to shove them into distant, unapproachable roles (such as the Inquisitor and also Kelso in The Misfits). It’s not conscious and it’s not deliberate, but that’s what I’ve found myself doing. Also, a while back I became aware of the Bechdel Test.
After the usual period of denial, I became uncomfortably-aware that a lot of my stuff fails it. And given that I like to imagine myself as a reasonably-liberal, reasonably-modern person, I wasn’t too happy about this!
The first step to dealing with a problem is admitting that you have it. *Tick* The second step is, well, trying to do something. My first experiment with that was At The Inn, which did represent some progress.
I’ve been trying to build on this, which is partly what’s incorporated into the following. It’s also where I’m putting into use the thinking I’ve been doing about alien planets and their possible interactions with human physiology. (Although that’s not so obvious in the first section, here.)
So, below, is the opening bit from the project I’m tentatively entitling ‘Shot In The Dark’. I’m not claiming to get everything right and I’m not claiming absolute success or perfect achievement with my attempts, but I am genuinely trying!