The Black Bag

Real Characters: She Can’t Be That!

Allison, the fell warrior-princess, drew her sword and advanced on the band of ragged louts confronting her. “You’ll soon feel the fiery claw that is ‘The Tigress’, you cowards.”

The men laughed and doubled-over. “You can’t hurt us!”

Her faced scrunched and a flush rose on her cheeks. “I can’t.”

The leader stepped forward with a grin. “You don’t know how to use that. You can’t be a warrior.”

“I can’t?”

“No you’re just here, well, for the women to identify with.”

Allison scratched the back of her head. “I am?”

“Sure, now run along and sew or something but try to be serious and well-respected.”

Joan of ArcThe other ruffians guffawed. “Yeah! And try to look beautiful while you’re at it.”

Allison walked away shaking her head. “I don’t understand, I trained an everything.”

You’ve read it. I’ve read it. It’s a common complaint on internet discussion threads; the female warrior is overdone and become farce. Such characters are written merely to gain and keep women readers but they aren’t realistic – not a reflection of reality in the real world so they can’t be in the fictional world. The complaints go on and often twirl into other complaints about overdone tropes of various sorts. Frequently, one wonders if these people are just tired of the grand trope of fantasy altogether (and my advice would be to read some other genres for a while – or better yet some non-fiction).

But I say, the woman-warrior is welcome in fantasy and should even be celebrated! Why? Well lets examine some of the reasons.

She’s been there all along

Now I’ve heard some people complain that female characters should be a warrior and domestic – it would be unique. Others retort that it’s not realistic and can’t be done. Well, it has been done and it is realistic.

The best example is from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Eowyn is a princess of Rohan who has taken care of her king in his magical dotage. We meet just after she has cared for her brother as he died. When trouble comes, Eowyn is called upon to lead her people while the men go off to war. But, being wearied of her life and finding trouble in her back yard she chooses to take up the sword. And it’s a good thing she does so, because she does what no man can do – kill the Lord of the Nazgul. Tolkien has been accused for years for his sexism in not having more women in the story as well as implying that women shouldn’t fight. But he places Eowyn right in line of danger, giving her, arguably one of the best scenes in the whole trilogy – not to mention a great line. It translated to the big screen well.

But that’s not realistic

What’s that? Still arguing about this trope? It can’t happen? Do you think women can’t and won’t take up the sword when necessary, even coming from a domestic background? Think again because history provides us with a singularly excellent example: Joan of Arc. She was a farm-girl and you can imagine what that life was like – very farm and domestic-like. But after seeing a vision she heads off to volunteer to save France from the English. It’s the stuff of a great fantasy tale. Somehow, my character, Limbreth in The Bow of Destiny, even picked up a few similarities with Joan of Arc.

What’s that? It’s only one example? Wrong again – what about the Amazons (check the part about Sarmatian burials). They’re just a myth? Well, think about that again. Secrets of the Dead had an episode where Amazons were examined as historically real. Apparently they lived in that area of the world and later migrated across the Russian steppes.

VikingStill not satisfied? According to a recent archaeological study, women may have make up almost half of Viking warrior burials. Yep, that’s right, almost half. All those Vikings storming the shores of Europe to raid villages and towns had plenty of women in the fray and pillaging. Surprised? I’m not. While woman often have domestic duties in most cultures throughout history, they too need to be momma-bears when necessary. Regardless, there are multiple cultures which recounted tales of the Shieldmaiden.

As for the princess idea, lets put that to rest as well. Ever heard of Boudica? She was a Celtic queen who led an uprising against the Romans. Before the “rebellion” was put down she and her people won several battles against the formidable Roman legions.

So take a deep breath and let’s not get worked up about the trope and whether aspects of how female warriors are portrayed are possible. They are indeed possible, however the character, like all, should be presented authentically as possible.

Authenticity

So there can be shown that women were part of many tales about heroic feats.While the female warrior is historically present in many accounts all the sexy depictions are not. Many of the tales recount that Amazons and Shieldmaidens were dressed as men. What does this mean? Those hot-looking breastplates are not accurate. In fact, breast bulges would not even be structurally sound defensive accoutrements.

The importance to understand is that heroic female characters do belong but should not be cast as sex symbols because those easily become unrealistic. In this case, Martin’s female knight, Brienne, is both realistic and authentic. So I say, “Long live the trope!” But only as long as it fits and is presented well which is what all readers ask of any story.

What fantasy tropes bother you and why? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

To find out more about The Bow of Destiny, click over to one of these online retailers:

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Amazon

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IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

Sign-up to receive my free ebooks today.

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

 

Fun Friday: Cover Polls

Today, I thought I’d have a little fun and gather a bit of information about my books. An author hears some things but never quite all that is needed to understand what readers like.

Covers fall into a category of attracting attention visually. I spend a good bit of money on totally original cover art because epic fantasy demands it.

With that in mind, I think it’s time I found out which of the covers among my books readers find the best. I’ve added polls for each type of covers, the ones I’ve commissioned and then ones I’ve done myself. My DIY covers were done on a shoestring because they are for free books (or nearly free) so I don’t have money to sink into them (though I wish I did for the sake of consistency). Also, I include in my DIY cover, one that is not part of The Bow of Hart Saga story-arc, just for fun – after all, it fun Friday!

First the commissioned covers:

  

Now the poll:

 

Now take a look at the DIY covers:

   

Now the poll:

The pols are live for a week so feel free to share them and invite anyone to visit and vote. Please leave your thoughts on the covers in the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Scrivener Tips Pt. 2: Compiling

Compiling Conundrums

I’ve recently begun preparations for sending the manuscript of The Bow of Destiny to my editor. The manuscript needed compiling which I had never done for a book. I had compiled for a short story so that was rather easy. For a book there were a few more details required than I had previously experienced.

Manuscript Expectations

I wasn’t concerned with the format of my manuscript since it was consistent. However, I did want chapters without titles and a header. My first attempt did not work as I expected. The folder names became chapter titles and labeled scenes appeared in the text. This is likely because I originally used a general template rather than one specific to a novel. But no biggie, I started poking around and found settings in the compiler to help me get the manuscript to the appearance I wanted.

Custom Compiling

First, click on File and then Compile to open the Compiler:

Scrivener Compiler

Compiler MenuNote all the different categories on the left menu. Click on Contents and verify that everything for your manuscript is selected. You can use these to change settings in the compiler. When you start making changes it will change the “Format As:” to Custom.

For my purposes, the necessary changes were made by first clicking on Formatting and turning off all the check marks for title. This removed folder titles being used as chapter names so that only the chapter numbers remain.

To change the layout of a section click on a level to highlight it and then on the Selection Layout button.

Selection LayoutHere you can edit the beginning layout of a section. In my case I removed any text I didn’t want and added a few details.

Next I wanted to change my header. To do this click on Page Settings from the left menu of the Compiler and then type in or change the header settings. My screen shot above also shows an example. Not that “Not on Page 1” is not checked by default. I checked that and made sure that page one was counter by checking the second box.

 

Saving and Presets

Choose Compile FormatTo save these custom settings click Save and Close on the lower right. When you re-open the Compiler and choose Custom from the menu these will remain. However, you can also save your custom presets by clicking Save Presets in the lower left.

Choose Compile Preset

Once you’ve saved a preset you can load it by clicking on the Load Preset button in the lower left and scrolling down the list of standard presets to My Presets and choosing the one you want based on your needs.

Load Compile Presets

I hope this helps when you compile a manuscript. There are many other settings so take time to learn those according to your project parameters. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.


To find out more about The Bow of Destiny, click over to one of these online retailers:

the-bow-of-destiny-by-p-h-solomon

Amazon

About the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spaIMG_4154-Editre time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

Sign-up to receive my free ebooks today.

080916_1940_AWildNightR3.jpg

Screenshots from my blog project

Just as a note: I am not affliated with Scrivener in any official capacity. For support questions, pricing and other concerns please contact the vendor.