Thursday, June 19, 2014

Perils of the Writer: Losing Your "Strong" Female Character to Trinity Syndrome

This article by Tasha Robinson should be required reading to all writers (especially male writers, like myself) who like to think they are writing strong female characters.  Perhaps you are, but Ms. Robinson gives a good checklist to contemplate.

A big thing she talks about is the "Trinity Syndrome"-- where a female character is given the impression of being strong and important-- like Trinity in The Matrix-- but after her strong and important introduction, she actually contributes very little to the actual plot, other than propping up the hero.  Or, as Ms. Robinson so eloquently puts it, "A sexy lamp with information for the hero written on it."

This is not something I get right all the time, myself.  Thorn of Dentonhill, I'll admit, has only one significant female character in it, but she is pretty crucial to the plot, and it involves being Veranix's friend and confidante, but not a romantic partner.  I may not have done a perfect job, but I strove to make sure that Kaiana was not a sexy lamp.  Is she a Trinity?  I don't think so.  I can tell you, if she veers in that direction in Thorn, I'm fairly sure I turned out of the skid in Thorn II.

A Murder of Mages has many significant female characters, including and especially Satrine, who is very much the co-protagonist.  No one there is a sexy lamp, and Satrine is definitely not a Trinity.

That said, this gave me good things to think about, and places where I can see room for improvement in my own work.  Which is always the goal, right?


Unknown said...

If you are going to reference the article, and suggest it be read, could you please add a link to it?

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

JW- the link is there, in the words "This article".

Anonymous said...

you may wish to reformat this blog so that links are obvious to see; the default standard is to have them underlined but the blog's current formatting over-rides that.

Or, you could write in a more traditional way and not use phrases like "this link" and "here" for links. Those only make sense in hypertext but would not make sense if, say, your postings were printed out.

Dr. Ellis L. (Skip) Knox said...

I agree with the other posters. "Click here" or "this link" and similar references are poor web design (finding out why is an exercise left to the student). Similarly, having visual link signals that appear only on hover is likewise poor design. If I had not seen the comments, I would have blown right past this article, assuming the author never made a link.

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

Hmm. It's a different color for me. I'll examine further.