The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Celebrating Women Horror Writers Challenge Results

So how many took the challenge and read the last six pieces to see which ones were written by women? We had lots of discussion in Kindle Horror Books and on various pages; heard some mention they were all written by 'chicks'; others said they honestly could not tell. But, what I found most interesting is no one jumped in with both fangs and said 'Hey, I think this one is a women because XYZ and this one is a male because of 123'.

I did have one person question whether the pieces were written for the article, which I thought was a damn good question. No they weren't. These were all existing pieces of work. Otherwise we (I) could have skewed the results.

I find that interesting. I posted this article on my wall in FB, on Google +, others shared it on their walls and groups and ......nada.......

Why? Too afraid to take a guess and be wrong? Not interested? Have no opinion? I certainly heard a lot of opinions as to why women could not write horror. Nothing scientific, no empirical data, nothing concrete or anything that said women cannot write horror because they ______  (fill in the blank). But a lot of spouting off to say men were better. And I find that odd.

More men than women write horror, absolutely. More men also fail miserably at it than women. I read well over 300 books a year, all horror. Most are male authors, and most books lack several things:

  1. Editing: most of the time I will grit my teeth and highlight the errors in a book. If I feel generous, I will contact the author and tell him of his mistakes. Most of the time it is appreciated. Sometimes it isn't. And then I wonder, if you go to all that trouble to write, to conceive a baby of little black and white words, marks and squiggles on the page, to lose sleep over plot, theme, idea, journey, etc and then throw that child into the market without being properly dressed, what the hell were you thinking? I have heard male authors say 'I know this isn't edited, but here it is and please pay me $2.99 for it'. Arrogance? Laziness? Ineptitude? Or do they simply think their work is strong enough to go out without editing?
  2. A consistent, or varying pace: it's either all action and plot with no down time, or it is one grand soliloquy after another. Just the other day I read a piece and I think I must have skimmed more than three quarters of it because I was bored to tears.
  3. No likeable characters: there is no one to root for; no one to cheer on. No one to feel sad about if they get killed. Yes jerks exist. I get it. Bad neighbourhoods exist. People of both genders being assholes exist. But if I lived in a world like that, I would seriously have to hide the sharp objects. There is not one person who is completely evil. Not one person who has no redeeming qualities or character or something that can make a reader want something better for that person. Can you imagine if Ira Levin wrote Rosemary's Baby and she was a whining, cursing, nagging, shrew of a harpy who smoked, ate with her mouth hanging open and and scratched her private parts in public. The novel would have gone nowhere. Now, bad people in books can be completely evil, absolutely, but your main character better have something going for them or you lose the reader.
  4. Making the female characters too weak: biggest pet peeve of the movie The Shining was Shelley Duvall's character taken from being a strong female who had a mind of her own, to a screaming, flailing, simpering mess of a one dimensional character. The screaming, the flailing, oh wait in this scene you flail, and then scream. Really? Yes writing is difficult, and writing another gender even more so, but while the end of the world is crashing down around your ears, your last thought, as a female, as you are being chased by vampires through a New York subway system, is not to stop running and have sex. Sorry. Plot Hole. Ginormous plot hole. Or if a woman has just given birth and  then is invited to spend the weekend on a secluded, un-escapable cannibal island, I am positive she would say no.  But apparently one male author thought this was plausible.Then there was the police officer who was in uniform while her long, blonde cascading hair fell down her back. Again. Nope, ain't gonna happen. 
The other thing that happened was a lot of posts bashing Women in Horror Month. Bashing the logo, bashing women, bashing women writers. Just a whole lot of angry comments, and again, I found that.....typical.

I work in a male dominated field, and in a male dominated sub field. I hear it. The snide comments. The off hand remarks. The 'oh we were only joking' put downs. And I think to myself, we really have not evolved all that far as a species here in North America.

I raised my kids to be people, not gender specific roles. I taught them respect for one another and instilled in them a need to question. If someone tells you, you cannot do this because of your gender, ask them why. My boys played with Barbies, and no, they are not gay. My daughter was the first girl in Manitoba to join the Boy Scouts because she hated what the Girl Guides did. And my kids are very well adjusted, normal, kind, loving adults.

So what started out as a simple question grew into so much more.......and by the way, entries 1,2 and 4 were women writers. 

1 comment:

  1. I'd have to agree, based on my own experience as a new author. They say, 'write what you know,' so I wrote about a schlub who likes beer and bowling and is terrible at getting girls. The 'turning into a vampire' part I imagined... Anywho, I finished it, proofed it, published it, downloaded a copy, and immediately realized that 1- I should've hired an editor :-) and 2- that I really hope no one judges me on my female characters. I promised my wife I would have a strong, well-developed, non-stereotypical female character in the sequel. Now, to be fair, my male characters are equally stereotypical. I just spend more time on their development that the women in the story... So long post short, good observations about male writers!!!