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Today I'm a guest at Anne E. Johnson's blog, where I talk about putting women (plural!) of agency and influence at the core of the story.

Traditional gender roles are hard to combat for the fiction-writer, especially in a genre like fantasy which has a long tradition of distressed damsels being captured and needing saving. Even for a writer who is aware of this problem and wants to defy it, knowing how to let the females drive the story takes a lot of thought and practice. Today's guest, Blair MacGregor, generously shares her advice.

Read the rest here!

In other news, I'm not changing another word in Sand of Bone until its final edits are sent to me.  That means it's time to both work on Breath of Stone!


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 26th, 2014 03:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link.

Awesome guest post!
Jun. 26th, 2014 04:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, and were you going to send me a new file of Sand of Bone? You'd said yesterday you were going to make some changes. Or is the file you already sent the final, for now?
Jun. 26th, 2014 05:17 pm (UTC)
Just sent it out a little bit ago, after chopping out its hands, backs, shoulders, and eyes. :)

Edited at 2014-06-26 05:17 pm (UTC)
Jun. 26th, 2014 05:24 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. I'm sure I have body parts to cut out, too.

And, I got the file. Thanks!
Jun. 26th, 2014 06:05 pm (UTC)
The narrative of the single woman who breaks into a male domain still frames the domain (magic, fighting, religion, science, whatever) *as* a male domain. The woman needs to prove that she's as good or better than the men (while men just have to be themselves and have an interest); and - because she's breaking in - she will be supported by men, mentored by men. If there are other women, they often act as foils: they all compete for the slot of being The One Exceptional Woman, and there can be only one... so they try to beat our heroine to it.

I'm sick and tired of that narrative. I've read it oh so many times. Sword and Chant was ever so refreshing to read (and I *so* want more books like it): books in which women are simply members of the human race, not inferior to men.

Looking forward to Sand of Bone!
Jun. 27th, 2014 12:18 am (UTC)
Fun observation: I was reading Le Morte d'Arthur and noticing that except for Merlin himself -- who wasn't, after all, entirely human -- all the people throwing magic about were women.
Jun. 27th, 2014 11:14 am (UTC)
There are indeed, though their use of the power is defined and determined by their relationships with the men, and they are all Special Women rather than people.
Jun. 27th, 2014 12:38 pm (UTC)
Defined and determined by? What do you mean by that?
Jun. 27th, 2014 01:33 pm (UTC)
I mean that the relationships the women have with the men are what determine the power they choose to/are able to wield, and the relationship with men is what determines if the power-wielding is considered good or evil. It is a male-centric world in which women play as foils or facilitators to male power and enlightenment.

Now, it's been an long time since I've read Malory, so I can't give specific examples with any confidence, But my recollection is that it's a good example of the Special Woman narrative wherein women are permitted power as long as it's within proper parameters and supported by men. The women who want to operate independently and gain their own power are therefore bad, and even in their badness must still usually act through male proxies.

I'm not saying the story should be any different; it's a product of its culture. I'm not saying the women aren't interesting in their own right. But I'm saying I want narratives in which the women don't have to gain male permission for, apologize for, atone for, or be punished for using their own agency and influence in pursuit of their own goals.
Jun. 27th, 2014 02:14 pm (UTC)
I will cite a counterexample: Lynette shamelessly uses magic to keep Gareth and Lyonesse from -- erem -- anticipating their vows, does not do so with any sanction from anyone male, cheerfully ignores Gareth's complaints about, and finally works magic to keep him bed-bound until the wedding. This is not portrayed as evil in any way.
Jun. 29th, 2014 07:56 pm (UTC)
I understand there are examples to be found. I want narratives in which it is the *norm.*
Jun. 27th, 2014 11:02 am (UTC)
Yes and agreed on the One Woman in a man's domain.

There is still a need for those narratives -- it's a brand new idea for some girls and young women, even now -- but it is *transitional* in focus. There must be a vision of what happens once the transition is done.

OTOH, certain folks wouldn't want it to be transitional, but exceptional, meaning it'll always be the exception, by golly, and that's what makes it special.

And thank you for the nice words about Chant. :) I hope you enjoy Sand, too!

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


Blair MacGregor

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