Monday, January 11, 2021

The Woman as Warrior

 Movie and TV heroines have a lot to answer for in action/adventure scenes. Some writers see these women as realistic female fighters, and they aren’t even remotely realistic either as women or human beings in fighting methods, stamina, and strength.

Maybe your warrior princess or action babe in leather and overpriced stilettos is as tough as any man, but she will have certain physical limitations. Use those limitations to be creative in fight scenes.

During a TV showing of one of the AVENGERS movies, the fight coordinator who trained Scarlett Johansson talked about Black Widow’s fighting style.  Johannson is 5 ft, 3, so the director wanted her fighting to be as realistic as any superhero movie is for such a tiny woman.  That’s why she used her legs to kick and scissor choke big men.  With her much shorter reach with her arms, a punch or martial arts move would be easily avoided or blocked by a man with a much longer reach.  

The strongest woman is rarely as strong as the strongest man, but she may be faster, smarter, or more supple.  She may be trained in combat when he isn’t. Use her realistic strengths rather than using unrealistic strengths.

Many women are pragmatists, as well. The rule that both parties must use the same weapons for the fight to be “fair” has nothing to do with reality, and pragmatists know this. If a huge man with a knife charges toward your action babe, she should shoot him and not feel bad about it later.

In CAPTAIN MARVEL, this attitude is shown perfectly in the last showdown between Carol Danvers and the Jude Law character.  He tries to sucker her into a physical fight where he has all the advantages, but she blasts him into a mountain instead.  That’s not cheating, that’s smart.  That’s a woman fighting.  

Monday, January 4, 2021

Formatting Telepathic Dialogue

 QUESTION: I have a character who is a telepath. Should I italicize what she picks up from others' minds?

If the characters are "speaking" mentally, I've often seen authors italicize the conversation.

Mary thought to Matt, What happened to my son?

He fell into the river but grabbed a log.

If, however, Mary is picking up the images from Matt's head, I'd do something like this--

Mary tilted her head and concentrated harder on what Matt was trying to show her with his thoughts.

Darkness. A river surging past. A hand reaching out of the water and grasping a log. Then her son's head coming up out of the water as he pulls himself up onto the floating log.

"He's not dead," Mary sobbed and rubbed away her tears. "Billy's not dead."

I’ve also seen writers use colons for mental dialogue in the same way as you would use quotation marks. 

Mary thought to Matt, :What happened to my son?:

:He fell into the river but grabbed a log.:

The advantage of using the colon is that there will be no confusion about when speakers change.

Pick any of these methods and stick with it through your whole work.