The Art Of Writing Female OCs

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Television and film writers, I get it. You wanna have more awesome girls to even up the playing field and level out these awesome guys you’ve got to work with – and that’s great! But there is a way to go about it, and there is a way to NOT go about it. As a woman, and a writer, will you please…just listen to me? Because I’m about to give you all the secrets to creating strong original female characters.

*Note, this is an article focusing on creating female OCs for media based on pre-existing material. Not that it can’t help with purely original works either.

Comics have been dominated by men since forever (even though their female audience is larger than they realize), so naturally, there are a lot of strong male superheroes. Yeah, we’ve got our Wonder Womans and our Black Widows, but let’s be real: when you think of  “superhero”, you probably think of Superman, or Batman (because money is totally a superpower, right?), or Spiderman. I mean, how many of you have actually heard of Ms. Marvel? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

With shows like Arrow and The Flash, stories about boys saving the world, there’s a crying need for a female counterpart. A Bonnie for every Clyde, a Scully for every Mulder. Oliver Queen has Felicity Smoak. Barry Allen has Caitlyn Snow and Iris West. Even Kara Danvers on Supergirl has her sister Alex. All badass secondaries in their own right. But the grandmother of all these awesome OFCs is the intrepid right hand of Smallville‘s Clark Kent – Chloe Sullivan.

Chloe was my idol growing up. She was whip smart, witty, brave, and indomitable. She wasn’t just a love interest or just a sidekick. She was a person, with an identity and a personal life and a mind of her own. Yes, she did have a crush on Clark for a while, but it didn’t define her. Helping Clark and the Justice League was important to her life, but it wasn’t the only aspect of her character. She wasn’t stuck as a prop in the narrative. Chloe was so freaking awesome, she actually was put in DC Comics as a real canon character. That is the way you write new female characters.

So let’s just make a little list of dos and don’ts when writing strong, three dimensional women:

  1. DON’T make a woman just a love interest or helper for the main protagonist.
  2. DO give your female characters a backbone (or have them develop one over the course of the narrative – because character development is always a great tool for a writer to use!).
  3. DON’T presume that a “strong” female character just means a woman who punches people a lot (because let’s be real, without the ass-kicking, Black Widow would just be Ms. Fanservice).
  4. DO give your female characters a storyline of their own! If they don’t have a life of their own, they’re not really a character, they’re just a object in the narrative. There’s an easy test you can use called the Mako Mori test. There’s only three requirements: 1) have a female character, 2) who gets her own story arc, and 3) her story arc doesn’t support that of a man. That’s it, that’s all there is to it. Believe me – it’s not as hard as you think.
  5. DON’T make a woman a damsel in distress. It’s fine if she gets saved sometimes, but it’s great to turn the tables occasionally! Lois Lane saved Superman a few times, you know.
  6. DON’T define a woman by traditional gender roles (romantic interests, mothers, etc.) – be original!
  7. DON’T have “strong” women be romantically interested in jerks or weak guys – because that doesn’t happen in real life. I know men don’t really want to have to try when it comes to getting women and they think they just deserve us because that’s what our society has taught them, but in reality, truly strong women don’t love men who obviously aren’t good enough for them. Instead, have a man truly earn her love – that does not mean automatically receive it just because. Or have the man and the woman be on equal footing from the beginning. When a woman says she’ll never love a man because he’s a jerk, DON’T have her do a 180 by the end of the episode and throw herself at said jerk (lookin’ at you, Supergirl).

This is turning into a rant, I’m gonna stop myself now.

To provide a cautionary tale of what NOT to do, I’ll bring up the infamous BBC Sherlock. The original Holmes canon doesn’t lend itself very well to strong ladies. It’s essentially the excellent adventures of two “heterosexual” male life partners. The only long running female characters are Mrs. Hudson (sometimes Turner), the voiceless housekeeper, and Watson’s beard wife, who except for the one story where she’s a client, pretty much has no dialogue either. So naturally, there’s a crying need for girl power.

Enter…Molly Hooper. Oh, Molly.

In the very first scene she’s in, it’s made apparent to everyone that she has a gigantic crush on the eponymous detective. Okay, that’s fine. But that’s literally where her characterization begins and ends. Throughout the entirety of the series, Sherlock either ignores her, makes outrageously rude remarks to her, or uses her feelings for him to get her to do things for him. There was a brief respite in the beginning of series 3 where it seemed like there was some growth for Molly’s character in being able to move on from Sherlock, but in the last episode of the show, Molly has hit rock bottom in the pit of patheticness, getting weepy over Sherlock and demanding that he tell her he loves her, even though she knows it’s not true, instead of just realizing that Sherlock is kind of a dick to her and moving on with her life.

I pity any woman who thinks they should have been together. If that’s your idea of romance, don’t be surprised when none of your boyfriends respect you.

So, TLDR, don’t make a Molly Hooper. Make a Chloe Sullivan. ~TRL

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A Comparison Of Unfortunate Events

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**Spoiler free!**

As a child, I was a huge reader and re-reader, especially of one book serial by “Lemony Snicket” (Daniel Handler) called A Series Of Unfortunate Events. I think I have may read the whole series through even more times than I did Harry Potter. I also rewatched the 2004 film version starring Jim Carrey many times (to be fair, I didn’t own that big a collection of DVDs and VHS tapes back then and Netflix didn’t yet exist).

And speaking of Netflix, I was very excited when an actual series with the entire story, all 13 books, was announced to be aired online. I waited in anticipation for months. So when the series was posted about three weeks ago, I devoured the first eight episodes like the Lachrymose leeches did poor Ike Anwhistle (too soon?). So I thought I’d write a post comparing the 2004 Nickelodeon movie to the 2017 Netflix series.

The direction for both adaptions is somewhat Burton-esque (Helena Bonham Carter even made a brief, faceless cameo as the Baudelaires’ mother in the film). The movie is reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands in style (especially costume); the series more like Big Fish. The movie definitely took its own path, plotwise, but seeing as it was adapting a 13 short novel series (well, the first three books) into a 110 minute movie, it was really good, and earnest. Plus some of the original scenes that weren’t pulled straight from the book (like Klaus’s “this is not home” monologue) are really well written. Meanwhile, the Netflix series is pretty true to the books (except for Violet’s pink dress from “The Bad Beginning” – Violet canonically hates pink), and is a real treat for someone who’s read them over and over like I have. We actually get to delve deeper into the mythos of the secret society V.F.D. in a way the film couldn’t do, although I have to admit, part of what made the books so enticing was all the mystery and suspense behind it. The series just gives it all away up front. We even get to see Lemony Snicket’s face, whereas in the movie, all we got was a voiceover and unrevealing shots of Jude Law. I’m not saying you have to have read the books to understand or enjoy the Netflix series, but it’s clear that it was designed for fans of the source material. One thing I thought was interesting was that the series borrowed the spyglass from the movie, even though it was never in the books.

The acting in the movie is clearly superior. The child acting from the Netflix series tends to fall flat sometimes, like participants in a middle school play. Neil Patrick Harris’s Olaf is clearly a replication of Carrey’s portrayal, spliced with Barney Stinson and Doctor Horrible (maybe some Dougie Houser on the side). What I’m saying is, NPH is playing NPH playing Jim Carrey. I was delighted at the diversity in the series, however (Sir and Charles confirmed as a gay couple, finally!); it was a pleasant change from the pasty white complexion of the movie (even Cedric the Entertainer was white). I was so excited when I realized that Mr. Poe was being played by the same actor who played Mr. Trick from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The actors playing Uncle Monty and Aunt Josephine from both adaptations, respectively, differ from their counterparts yet are delightful to watch in both cases. I found it amusing that Catherine O’Hara, who played Justice Strauss in the 2004 movie, played Dr. Orwell, the optometrist/hypnotist, in the Netflix series. But I have to say, I think the best actor in the entire series is Patrick Warburton. I’d only ever seen PW in frat bro roles like Puddy on Seinfeld or Jeff Bingham from Rules Of Engagement. But it seems like Warburton was the only (adult) actor in the series who was playing it straight the whole time. I have to admit, I always did envision Lemony Snicket with a British accent (like Jude Law’s portrayal), but Warburton’s ironic deadpan really sold me on his performance. Oh, and the genderless henchperson. I love he/she/them too.

There’s many great things to love about both the movie and the series. I thoroughly enjoy both adaptations and would highly recommend either one. The score to the movie by Thomas Newman is one of my all time favorites. And the Netflix series, since there are two fifty minute episodes for each book, explain a lot of things that the movie – and the book series itself – didn’t address. Like, why did the employees of the Lucky Smells Lumbermill stay there when all the pay they received for their work was coupons and gum? Or how did Count Olaf, a man who is clearly an enemy of the Baudelaire parents, end up with custody of their children?

However, if ever another version of A Series of Unfortunate Events is made, can we have an actually scary Olaf? He terrified me as a child, and I’m sorry, but Neil Patrick Harris is not scary. ~TRL

Johnlock Fan Fics Masterpost

This is a list of fics (by me) about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. The not shitty ones, anyway. (They’re arranged by adaptation and date published.)

Victorian/ACD canon

The Detective’s Wish – T, 600 words. After having sex, Holmes tells Watson his dearest desire. Victorian attitudes, snuggling, and Watson being a romantic sap.

A Great Heart, As Well As Of A Great Brain – NC17, 2600 words. Takes place after the canon story, “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs”. Holmes was so afraid he’d lost his Boswell, and shows Watson how glad he was that the doctor’s bullet wound was merely superficial. Hurt/comfort, domestic fluff, and fellatio.

The Case Of The Bohemian Bachelor – T, 1600 words. Watson ponders why there are no women in Holmes’ life. He eventually figures it out.

Good Morning, John – G, 200 words. It is a cold January morning, but luckily Holmes has Watson to keep him warm. Snuggling!

The Thoroughly Imbecilic Scotland Yard – G, 404 words. Lestrade has no idea what’s going on. And he probably doesn’t want to. Oblivious!Lestrade, Holmes’s utterly bitable skin, and Watson being a trashcan as usual.

BBC Sherlock

Sanctuary – G, 900 words. John goes to the library for some peace and quiet and comes into contact with a very interesting librarian. Pre-slash, alternate meeting.

Time Of My Life – NC17; 8 chapters, 30k words. While spending a summer at a camp with his alcoholic sister, John Watson falls for a beautiful dance instructor. A fusion with the movie Dirty Dancing (don’t worry, John and Sherlock are in their 20s, no underage).

Five Endearments John Watson Calls Sherlock Holmes And The One Sherlock Calls Him – T, 700 words. 5+1, pet names, fluff, domestic.

The Guy In 221B – T, 4k words. John’s upstairs neighbor plays the violin. Sherlock’s downstairs neighbor has a gorgeous singing voice. Together, they make beautiful music. But will they ever meet face to face? Alternate meeting, Sherlock being adorably shy, classic rock, flirting, and eventually making out in the laundry room.

Scarred – T, 18oo words. John catches Sherlock with his shirt off one day and finally learns about what happened to the detective in Serbia. Sherlock’s scars, John’s bullet wound, hurt/comfort, and Sherlock confessing his love. Plus sonnet 116.

Sweet Caroline – T, 6600 words. Someone is killing engaged couples in London, and Sherlock and John have to pose as fiancés to each other to catch the culprit. Based on ACD’s “The Solitary Cyclist”. Fake relationship that culminates in a real love confession.

Curiouser And Curiouser (And Definitely Not Boring) – T, 1200 words. A brief fusion of BBC Sherlock and Alice In Wonderland.

The Greatest Of These – NC17, 5k words. A “Reichenbach Fall” fix-it. After seven weeks of being “dead”, Sherlock comes back to John. A teary reunion, love confession, and sex.

On The Edge – NC17, 1034 words. Porn without plot. John and Sherlock having kinky (consensual) sex. Handcuffs, edging, spanking, soft dominant John.

Oh, I Think That I Found Myself A Cheerleader – NC17, 1050 words. Porn without plot. Sherlock in a cheerleader costume and ladies’ underwear having sex with John. Teenage AU (NOT underage; they’re both 18).

Sweet – NC17, 520 words. John gives Sherlock a cute nickname (and morning head).

Dare Not Speak Its Name (series) – M, 6 works, ~5000 words. A series of six stories about John and Sherlock pining for each other and eventually getting together spanning over the events of series 3 and afterward (not series 4 compliant). The missing gay bar scene from stag night, Harry Watson, villain Mary, Moriarty, and a happy ending.

The Closest Thing To A Friend – G, 1000 words. An alternate way “The Great Game” could’ve gone. In short, Sherlock is shocked to learn that John has been the mysterious Moriarty all along. Crack treated seriously.

The Singing Detective – M, 11 chapters, ~22k words. Based on ACD’s “The Dying Detective”. John is a new father and unhappy in his marriage while secretly pining for Sherlock. Meanwhile, Culverton Smith has drugged London’s tea supply, and now people are randomly bursting into musical numbers. That’s right – it’s a Sherlock musical. (Villain Mary, Parentlock, background Lestrade/Molly, and a happy ending for everyone…except Mary.)

He’s All That – T, 9 chapters, ~15k words. When John Watson, captain of the rugby team and most popular guy in school, gets dumped by his longtime girlfriend Mary, he makes a bet that he can get Sherlock Holmes, ballet nerd and most unpopular boy in school, elected as prom royalty in her place. But there’s a catch – John didn’t expect to fall in love with him. A fusion with the 1999 teen romcom She’s All That.

Shower For One – NC17, 1700 words. Porn without plot. Sherlock has a fantasy about John in the shower, but sometimes fantasies can become realities. Sherlock wanking and John being a total sex god.

Dopplegangland – NC17, 5 chapters, 8500 words. While on vacation in Scotland, Sherlock meets a very flirtatious photographer who looks exactly like his flatmate and best friend who he’s secretly in love with. John, who is also secretly in love with Sherlock, is not amused. Crossover with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (and Cabin Pressure!). Dopplegangers, jealous John, wonderfully trashy Iain MacKelpie being a shameless flirt with Sherlock, and John and Sherlock finally quit being idiots and just confess their feelings already. Oh, and sex. Lots of sex.

Angel Of The Battlefield (series) – NC17, 4 works, 7307 words. A series about soldier John Watson, who was killed in battle, then rescued from Hell by a beautiful angel named Sherlock (Destiel, anyone?). Mostly just porn, though.

At The Mercy Of The Gods’ Design – M, ~3000 words. The goddess of love, Irene, holds a grudge against the son of the queen, Sherlock. So she casts a love spell on the queen’s young consort, John, Sherlock’s friend and stepfather. A Johnlock retelling of Phaedra and Hippolytus. No incest or pedophilia or anything squicky, and a happy ending.

“military men making love” – NC17, 2000 words. Sherlock finds John Watson and James Sholto’s sex tape. John finds Sherlock wanking to it. SHERLOCK’S MILITARY KINK.

Human – G, 343 words. John holding Sherlock while he’s asleep and admiring how beautiful he is.

My Hero – T, 2500 words. Sherlock is nursing a huge crush on his mild-mannered flatmate. Meanwhile, the local superhero seems mighty infatuated with Sherlock. Too bad John won’t show interest like that. Super!John and Sherlock being sweet and wonderful.

Chain of Command – NC17, 2574 words. Sherlock/John/James Sholto. Sherlock has a naughty dream about John and his ex-lover James. Polyamory, light BDSM, submissive Sherlock.

In Sickness And In Health – T, 1300 words. It’s Sherlock and John’s wedding day. But of course, disaster strikes. (John gets into an auto accident on the way to the chapel and he and Sherlock just get married right there in the hospital room.)

It’s A Love Story, Baby, Just Say Yes – T, 2319 words. Sherlock and John were best friends as children, and had a favorite game where Sherlock was a damsel in distress and John was the knight in shining armor. But they drift apart and when Sherlock is all grown up, he realizes he’d quite like to be kissed by the handsome knight. Slight song fic, slight 5+1. Kidlock, Teenlock, puppy love, bullies (not John), happy ending. NO underage.

Duck – T, 12 chapters, 2722 words. Taking place after “The Six Thatchers”. Sherlock suddenly has a boyfriend, John refuses to talk about anything, and Mary isn’t such a martyr after all. Not series 4 compliant but sure as hell better than TFP.

Mirror Mirror – G, 1138 words. John introduces Sherlock to Star Trek: The Original Series, and Sherlock points out some awkward parallels to themselves, and Kirk and Spock. Who are obviously in love with each other, according to Sherlock. Johnlock and Spirk in one fic, a bit meta. Crack.

The End – T, 300 words. In which the events of “The Final Problem” were all a dream. In fact, the whole show after “A Study In Pink: Gay Pilot Edition” was a dream. If you hate series 4/TFP as much as I did, you might like this salty little ficlet. My last BBC Sherlock fic ever.

Bonus

The One Fixed Point – T, 1300 words. Holmes and Watson are soulmates, no matter the universe. (Multiple iterations of Holmes and Watson, including BBC Sherlock, Elementary, the Guy Ritchie films, and even The Great Mouse Detective.)

Writing Doctor/Master

Goddamn you, FanFiction.net, for existing. Thanks to you, I can’t ever get any school work or laundry done because I’m always writing D/M fan fics!

Well I recently reached a big milestone in my major story, “You Are Not Alone”. I’ll be perfectly honest, it’s just kind of a rewrite of seasons 1-3, with a fob watched Master taking the place of Rose Tyler. I just finished season one, Nine’s era. Twenty chapters!

When I began supporting Doctor/Master, I started screening the Master episodes from the Classic era, to study the history of the couple, and sure enough, the romantic chemistry is present there too! So naturally, there are plenty of combinations of the Doctor and the Master, not just Ten and Simm!Master.

Theta/Koschei (teenagers, schoolmates, the Prydonian Academy era, etc.): While I utilize this couple in “YANA”, I don’t often find myself writing independent stories about them. To me, the Doctor and the Master’s initial relationship was simple. There was no conflict, until Theta left Gallifrey and Koschei went crazy.

Three/Delgado: I love the cute flirtation between these two. You know, when Three’s not acting like he has a stick up his ass. I feel like it’s thanks to Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado’s real life friendship that it made it seem like even though they were supposedly enemies, the Doctor and the Master were once great friends…perhaps even more? Plus, the swordfighting from The Sea Devils and the handsy scene in The Mind Of Evil didn’t hurt either.

Four/Crispy: Four, being emotionally immature as he was, naturally wasn’t going to swoon over the Master, especially this shriveled husk version. However, I fangirl squeal at the Master’s line from The Deadly Assassin: “I’m going to take your body.”

Four/Ainley: It’s really a shame that these two only had one serial together. Since Logopolis immediately followed The Keeper Of Traken, it leaves little to the imagination about a relationship between them. Tom Baker and Anthony Ainley were, like Pertwee and Delgado, friends in real life, and have the same issue with invading each other’s space. My favorite moment of them is when they’re struggling on the radio tower and the camera is at such an angle that for a moment, they looking like they’re kissing! It’s too bad that five minutes later, the Doctor falls off of said tower and regenerates. Damnit, Master! This is not the way to get the Doctor in bed with you!

Five/Ainley: Oh, these two. Man, there is so much tension between these two, I just can’t get over it! Needless to say, Five and Ainley are my favorite combo of the Doctor and the Master. Especially since Peter Davison is my favorite Classic Doctor and Anthony Ainley is my favorite Master. So much tension! Favorite Master quote from this era: “A cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about.” (The Five Doctors) AWWWWWWW!

Six/Ainley: Since Six is so mouthy and rude, it’s hard to imagine him in any kind of relationship. However, I still managed to come up with a moment: the Master saving the Doctor from the Valeyard. *smiles*

Seven/Ainley: Same with this couple. Seven and the Master only had one episode together (Survival), and the Master really wasn’t his best state of mind. Still, there is the line that Seven makes: “They do say opposites attract.” He admits it.

Seven/Goosnake: Whuthufuq, ew!!! What the duck is wrong with you, you sicko?!

Eight/Roberts: Well this one’s just like Four/Crispy. The Master’s kind of deteriorating and is probably in no mood for frick-fracking. He’s desperate for the Doctor’s body in a completely different context. But as always, there’s a great line: the Master says to the Doctor, “You are my life!”

Eight/Jacobi: Even though it’s not technically canon, I’m a sucker for Eight/Jacobi fics. I read this one, a take off of “Night Of The Doctor”…so great.

Shalka/Android: Yo, Paul Cornell knows what’s up! Again, another non-canon combo, but still…it’s awesome.

Ten/Simm: Do I really have to explain these two? From “I like it when you use my name” to “get out of the way”, these two are absolutely, positively, tee-totally in love. 18/10, definitely ship. ♥♥♥♥

Eleven/Cumberbatch: Goddamnit, Moffat! Why couldn’t you have gotten these two together?! Two of the hottest actors in Britain, being “not gay” on screen, just like John Watson is “not gay” in Sherlock. Oh well. I still write it some. I call it “the ship that could have been”.

Well, here’s to more Doctor/Master interaction in the future!