Writing Male and Female Characters: Why We Need More Women In The Writers Room

Recently, Wil Wheaton posted an article about the fact that Gillian Anderson was bothered by something. The fact that the writing team for the X-Files was all male.   Here is the link to the article. While this is indeed annoying, it is actually quite common. Despite the fact that Hollywood has called for change, little change is happening, and the status quo is still in effect. This could create a problem however. The issue being that the show has a team of men who are writing both male and female characters. There’s nothing wrong with men writing female characters. The issue is that there is a “team” of writers, and yet there is no room for even a single female writer on that team, meaning there is no true female representation or perspective. Writing for the opposite gender can be difficult. I’ll give you a few examples from myself that are interesting to consider.

As a writer who does not have a team, I cannot really and truly understand the male perspective. I have written male characters; many of them, but I am not an expert on maleness. For example, when writing a book that should be out this winter called Dragon Fire, Angel Light. Both of the main characters are male. In fact they’re males who love each other and have chosen to be together despite the fact that both are a bit supernatural and it creates issues. When writing the characters, while I can make the males male, some of their mannerisms and things that they say aren’t exactly the most male. There are quite a few instances in which the characters engage in what would be considered “mushy” behavior.  They will come straight out with the “i love yous” and the “I want to look in your eyes” when having sex (oh golly). They have no qualms about calling each other “my love”, “my lover” using terms like “making love” instead of just “doing it”. It’s all very romantic, but is it male? The fact is, I don’t really know because I’m not male.

Another example is my book Tales of the Driss, Krystal Dragons. It’s a fantasy novel based off characters and actors that have influenced and inspired me (thank you Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner). These guys aren’t lovers, they’re brothers, but even with their lovers, they don’t act very male. They have long conversation about how much they love their lovers after sex, they wax romantic when they’re asking their lovers to marry them, once again coming straight out with the “I love yous”.  They talk constantly about the merits of love and how it’s effected them. I don’t know if this is especially male either. Do men often go off on romantic mush fests? Do they just lie in bed and talk about how much they love their lovers after sex? Once again, I couldn’t say.

Screenplay Harold Godwinson has gone through many incarnations. and many drafts, however, the story has always stayed the same. So the relationship between Harold and his consort Edith has always been the same, and they face the same issues. An over romantic man driven more by feeling than by power, gain or perhaps even reason. Instead he’s more invested in justice, happiness, and caring. which is, once again not very manish, of so it would seem. One would think that the second most powerful man in Britain would be mad for the power that he could claim for himself, going forth on his own conquests and calculating his possibility for advancement. That’s not the way he’s written because when I looked at his life, that’s not the way he seemed. A man writing for this character might have seen the more calculating man in search for power. I did not. He loves his consort, he loves his land, he’s not out for himself, he’s looking out for everyone else, which may or may not be very male.

There are many stereotypes that still exist when one writes female characters. This may be because that is how women have always been portrayed to men. Seeing as history and many of the great works from the past were written by men, the male perspective may have overshadowed some of the truths about women. Throughout history, women have always been cast in certain roles. The two most classic being the fool and the seductress, or sometimes even both. If we look at the Bible, there is the story of Adam and Eve. There is Eve who is the first one seduced in the garden to eat the fruit which makes her the fool, and then she convinces Adam to eat the fruit as well, in a way seducing him into doing so. No one considers the fact that the second hand information given to her from Adam about the Fruit may not have impressed the danger of eating it. There is the story of Pandora who just couldn’t resist opening a box because, you know, the curious woman. There’s the story of Samson and Delilah, the seductress who betrays her lover through seduction and lust, and there’s the fallacy that Mary Magdalene was a whore. If we can break the stereotypes, then we can write better women. And who is the best at understanding women and the stereotypes applied to them? Women.

While it’s not a bad thing for men to write female characters; some female characters are wonderful, powerful, beautiful, and non-stereotypical. They’ve been written by great authors like Ibsen, Tolkien Hardy and so many others. However it’s also not a bad idea to have a woman to at least help better understand women and how women think, act, interact. And when you can have a team of writers, I’m sure that there’s room for at least one woman. Women need to be heard, as the female voice is just as important as the male voice, especially when a woman can write a woman for women. She wants the same opportunities that male writers get. She’s just as good, just as creative, just as interesting, and has the added bonus of being a woman. This also applies to people of color, but that’s a discussion for another time. Maybe next blog. Women want a chance to write. If Hollywood gives it to them, Hollywood won’t be sorry.

 

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Scenes from Harold Godwinson

Hello and thank you for reading. I have finally finished my screenplay, Harold Godwinson, and I thought I would share a few scenes with my lovely followers and people I thought might be interested. They are chronologically in order, but there are, of course, scenes that come before and after each of these. I will go ahead and give a little explanation. Harold is the son of Godwin who was the Earl of Wessex in Britain. When Godwin dies, Harold takes up the title of Earl of Wessex as he is Godwin’s second son and heir. In January of 1066, Harold was crowned King Harold II of Britain. His fate is legend and I wanted to bring his story to the screen.His encounters with William Duke of Normandy would shape the history of Britain as the Anglo-Saxon kings were laid to rest, and the Anglo-Norman kings began to rise with William the Conqueror.

Note:Formatting is hard to do in a blog, but the script is formatted as it should be.

The scenes are as follows. The first scene is with Harold as he is just getting to know his consort, Edith of Essex. He had to meet, and fall in love with Edith fairly quickly because their relationship is an important cornerstone that runs throughout the story.  I thought it was a good scene to lead with because everyone loves a love scene.  Harold and Edith had an interesting love story that will conflict with what must be done when he become king and must marry a suitable wife.

Scene 2 is Harold’s first encounter with William of Normandy. This is a very important meeting, for what happens here will very much shape how the story ends and the primary conflict for Harold once he is king.

Scene 3 Harold’s brother Tostig is the 3rd most powerful man in Britain after King Edward and Harold who is still Earl of Wessex. He has abused his privilege and has taxed the people to the point of rebellion. He is called on his crimes and looks to Harold for help.

Scene 4 King Edward the Confessor dies. It is up to the Witan to determine who the next king of England will be.

CURIOUS ABOUT WHO MIGHT BE IN THIS MOVIE? THERE IS A VIDEO AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE WITH CAST SUGGESTIONS. THANK YOU!!

FIRST SCENE

Int. Chamber of Edith – Night

Edith’s MAID is helping to comb Edith’s hair. Edith wears her long white night gown. There is a large fire in the fireplace, and the large bed sits over not far to the side of that. The door quietly opens, and Harold steps in.

Harold

My lady…

The Maid stops her task, but Edith is not interested in Harold.

Edith

Continue. Pay him no mind.

The Maid continues on. Harold comes around in front of the fireplace and gazes into the fire.

Harold

I know our Fathers arranged this for their own purposes, but I am not the villain you would like to think I am.

Edith

I do not think you a villain. It is not you that I am angry with.

Harold

In all truth, I wasn’t thrilled about it either. But now that I have met you, seen you…

Edith

So where does that leave us? Will you simply take what you want.

Harold

I am not that kind of man. I could never do you harm. But if you would have me, I would be yours.

Edith looked to her Maid.

Edith

You may leave me now.

Maid

(rises and bows)

Yes, my lady.

The Maid leaves Edith. Edith rises and walks over to where Harold stands. They are silhouetted in the firelight.

Edith

And would you have me?

Harold

If it would please you, I would give you whatever I could. Anything. I would have nothing else but you.

He embraces her and they kiss in the firelight.

Int. Chamber of Edith – Morning

Harold holds Edith close as they lay together. He watches her for a moment as she sleeps and then kisses her forehead.

Harold

I will never love anyone as I love you.

SECOND SCENE:

INT. GREAT HALL OF WILLIAM – Day

William sits in his chair and Harold comes into the hall. He walks to the front of the hall and bows to William. The hall is littered with the ADVISERS of William, and at least two PRIESTS stand near the dais.

Harold

My lord, there is something we must discuss.

William

I know what you wish to discuss. You wish to discuss leaving my realm. We shall do so now.

Harold

My thanks, my lord.

William

Of course. But there is something I wish you to do for me first.

Harold then notices an ornate table, standing not far from the dais. He makes nothing of it though, as it is covered with a ratty old cloth and does not seem to be important.

Harold

What is it you would ask of me, my lord?

William

First, I wish to announce your betrothal to my dear daughter, Agatha. She will be a great wife to you.

Harold is taken aback, but does not see a way in which he can refuse.

Harold

(shocked)

Of course, my lord…

William

And next, an oath of loyalty and kinship, so that we may be joined in faith and friendship. Swear!

Harold does not answer at first.

William

Do you not wish to be loyal to me? To swear friendship and loyalty? A true man of noble blood would do so.

Again, Harold cannot refuse.

Harold

I will swear my friendship and loyalty to you.

William

Very good. And one final oath. When Edward the Confessor dies, you will recommend me as king to the Witan. Swear!

A hesitation.

William

Come now! This is part of your loyalty to me.

Harold

But I cannot promise such a thing. Nor can Edward. It is the Witan that will make the final decision.

William

Perhaps you are not as honorable a man as I thought. Perhaps your whole family are dishonorable. If that be so, then maybe the life of your brother is not that important, seeing as he is probably dishonorable as well.

Harold

(Angry and mortified)

You threaten my brother?

William

A life without honor is no life at all, and therefore, has no right to be. Prove yourself, and I will know. Swear that you will tell the Witan to choose me.

Again, Harold cannot say no.

Harold

I swear that I will recommend you as King to the Witan, and I swear that you will be the next king.

William rises. He goes over to the covered table.

William

That is very good of you, Harold, Earl of Wessex. However, both you and I know that an oath made under duress is one that is not required of one to fulfill. So I thought you should see what is in this chest. Come here.

Harold walks over to the table and William, who pulls the cover off to expose holy relics and the bones of saints.

William

You have sworn in the presence of holy relics. These are the bones of saints. To go back on your word now would be reprehensible.

Harold

(beyond angry)

You filthy deceiver! You have lied to me! You have deceived me. Your cowardly tactics do not make the oath any more enforceable!

William

No, I’m sure you will see that they actually do. One cannot go against God. It is he who holds this oath and will see it fulfilled. Do your duty, sir, or pay the consequences.

Harold

(angered)

Fine, I will do my duty, but at least let me take my brother home.

William

I don’t know about that. I have become rather fond of him, and he is quite useful to have around. You may leave, but he must stay. Good day to you, Earl of Wessex. Safe journey home.

William waved his hand, and Harold was led out by Guards.

THIRD SCENE

INT. PALACE THRONEROOM – DAY

King Edward sits upon his throne with Queen Edith by his side. On either side of him, lords are seated upon benches. On the kings right hand side are the old Lords of the Witan, and on his left hand side are the Thanes, and the representatives from across the lands. Before him stands a very well dressed Tostig, Morcar, Edwin and Harold.

King Edward

Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumbria. You have been called here to face allegations of abuse of your power at the expense of the people. What say you, sir?

Tostig

Abuse of power? The expense of the people? That is just not so, your majesty. I have done all in my power to care for the people.

King Edward

And the unjust taxes?

Tostig

A rumor, your majesty.

Morcar

Then why did your people ask us to step in and investigate? I think the proof of the allegations are clear. Those are hardly practicle and modest garments, Earl of Northumbria.

Tostig

(angerly)

And who asked you to come into my realm and spy upon me?! You are the one who was out of line.

Edwin

I think not! When people are about to rebel, it is our place to try and quell the violence.

Tostig

(smugly)

My people would never rebel. They love me.

Morcar

Yes indeed. They plan to love you to death. They say if you ever return to that land, they will kill you.

Tostig

A mere lovers quarrel.

King Edward

We shall see. What do the representatives and Thanes have to say of this?

The Thanes and others of the region give their testimony. In the end, there is no doubt. Tostig is clearly guilty and everyone knows it. Harold gives his brother a sad look.

King Edward

The Thanes and others have given their testimony. Lord Lerith, what does the Witan have to say.

Lerith is an old man with short white hair and a long white beard. He is saddened by what he has to do.

Lerith

My king. The Witan finds that guilt is undeniable. The Earl of Northumbria, Tostig Godwinson, is guilty of the crimes of which he has been accused. You may now pass judgement.

King Edward

Very good. Tostig, Earl of Northumbria. You no longer have a right to that title, and it will be handed over to Morcar of Mercia, along with your estate and all other holdings. You are banished. Leave now.

Tostig

(beyond angry)

Your majesty. You cannot do that. You cannot do that!

King Edward

(Also beyond angry)

Are you telling me, your king, what I can and cannot do in my own court?! Leave now, and do not return, or the punishment will grow worse for you.

Tostig turns to Harold.

Tostig

(desperate)

Brother? Will you not help me?

Harold

(sad)

The king and the Witan have spoken. I am sorry, Tostig.

Tostig

(Insane with anger)

How could you betray me like this?! My brother has betrayed me!I stand betrayed by my people, my family. All of you!

King Edward

GET OUT!!!

The king’s exertion in yelling causes a coughing fit, and he is taken by his wife from the throne room. Tostig stares Harold down for another minute.

Tostig

Believe me, brother, I will be avenged. And you will suffer for your disloyalty!

Tostig storms from the hall, leaving a speechless Harold behind.

FOURTH SCENE

Int. Bed chamber of King Edward – late day

Edward lies upon his bed, Queen Edith stands beside it, holding his hand and weeping. When Harold arrives, she looks up at him and beckons for both he and Lerith. The rush over to her.

Queen Edith

Brother, the king is dying.

King Edward

(weakly)

Perhaps, but I am not dead yet. And seeing as that is the case, I should make my wishes known.

Harold

You wishes, your majesty?

King Edward

Yes. I appoint as the defenders of the realm…

He trails off as they all three wait in anticipation. Lerith cannot wait.

Lerith

Yes, my king?

King Edward

I appoint…My beloved wife, who I have so neglected over the years, and her beloved brother, Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex. You may put my preference forth, Lerith of the Witan.

Everyone is taken aback, especailly Harold. The king had appointed him. He knew the Witan might, but the king?

Harold

My god…

King Edward

Can you do this for your king, Harold?

Harold

Of course, my King. I would do this for king and country.

King Edward

Very good. Take care of my beloved wife. She will need you, and you her.

Harold

Yes, your majesty.

The king goes limp. King Edward The Confessor has died, and his wife dissolves in tears as Harold holds her. A few tears come to his eyes as well.

Harold

Lord Lerith. Gather the Witan. The king is dead.

Int. Palace Counsil Chamber – Night

In a dark chamber, lit by fires and torches, the men of the Witan gather. A group of Twenty men, all old and bearded sit in the room at a long table. The three most senior are Lerith, ANGAR, and KERRIK. The three men will control the proceedings.

Lerith

The king is dead, so it is now time for the Witan to make a decision on who the next king will be, since he left no heirs.

Angar

The closest relative to Edward is Edgar, who is now in Hungary.

Lerith

Edgar is a sickly child who has spent little time in our country. He is not a suitable leader for Englishmen.

Kerrik

Then perhaps Harald Hardrada of Norway. He is a strong man, and a good leader.

Lerith

He is still not an Englishman. He is a Norwegian King, and does not belong here. The people would see him as an invader, not a king. I wish to get this out of the way. Both King Edward and Harold Earl of Wessex have asked to put forward the name of William, Duke of Normandy.

Angar

Give that Norman bastard the throne of England? I would rather die than see that.

Lerith

Agreed.

Kerrik

But those are our only choices.

Lerith

I would like to suggest someone else. Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex and Brother-in-law to the king. He is an Englishman and a nobleman, and the people already love and respect him.

Angar

I agree with this. Harold would be a good choice. Kerrik?

Kerrik

I agree, lords Angar and Lerith.

Lerith

The name of Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex has been put forward. All in agreement with this, raise your right hand.

All of the men of the Witan raise their hands.

Lerith

It is decided. Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex will be crowned King Harold the second. Thank you, my lords. Our decision is good.

The men of the Witan agree by nodding and exiting the room. Lerith goes to tell Harold.

Recent Issues In Hollywood. You know, the diversity thing and the rehashing…

Hello ladies and gents!! Decided to do a little something different this time around!! I have been checking out entertainment and film news lately, and there are some interesting things going on. First of all, Jennifer Lawrence pointed out that when the Sony emails came out, she noticed she was not being paid as much as her male counterparts. Also, Viola Davis recently pointed out that people of color were not offered as many opportunities as their Caucasian counterparts. Also there was the bit where Matt Damon said on his show, “Project Green Light” that diversity behind the camera was not as important as diversity in front of it.

Jennifer Lawrence makes an interesting point when she said that she was not paid as much as the male actors in her films, but in some ways, that has been the way that it has always been. Males have generally made more money than females throughout history regardless of what profession they are in. Why is that? I could not say for sure, but it sort of reeks of some sort of superiority thing, and it is definitely a control thing. Consider a scenario where everybody made the same amount of money for doing the same job. This would be ideal, and would make everyone equal. However, the world is not ideal. Not that that ideal situation cannot be achieved. It certainly can. The problem is, we’re not there yet in any facet of society. While Americans claim that there is equality between men and women, it is not necessarily true. If it were true, then we would be in that ideal zone. So that does not exist yet. While women currently have some amount of respect in Hollywood, because they do their jobs and do them well, that does not make them equal to their male co-star. If they were, everybody would be making the same kind of money. Ms. Lawrence is also right when she says that when you ask why you are not getting what you want or need, people tend to call a person difficult. It is especially easy to call a woman difficult. I even tweeted recently to Elijah Wood that, “it is easy to call a woman difficult merely because you don’t want to deal with them”. Again, true and not true. While there are some women who genuinely want to do things in order to better their situation, there are those who are in fact difficult. So there is a difference between that woman who wants to make things better and the woman who is truly difficult and a pain. And certainly there are male actors who are difficult as well. It is not a solely female issue. There are many people in the film industry that are just plain hard to work with. It is whether or not the reputation is true to the person that is the issue. Some people are difficult, others they want you to think are difficult.

Diversity is an interesting watch-word these days. Viola Davis says more people of color, Matt Damon says not necessarily. She’s right, he’s wrong. We need people of color in front of the camera, behind the camera, writing, directing, doing costumes, music, everything! Not on every film, but it is best to make sure that both cast and crew are as diverse as possible. Having more diverse people means having more creativity, ideas, direction, whatever. Not only that, but an Asian person, say a Chinese person, or a Korean person, or a Japanese person, Malaysian person, or what have you, are going to know more about Korean, Chinese, Japanese culture than a Caucasian person who is trying to write for them. They know their culture better than a person from outside of it. This is also true for Hispanic people, African American people, or people of African descent, whoever the cultural person is. So we need those writers and directors and producers. They will make the project more authentic. (one thing that kind of offended me was the fact that they chose Scarlett Johannsen to be the lead in “Ghost In The Shell”. Any hard core anime fan has seen it a million times, any science fiction fan has seen it a couple of times, and then there are people who just love good Japanese animation who loved it too. This was the perfect opportunity to use a Japanese actress, but they decided to go with a woman who was not Japanese. This made me incredibly sad…)

Last thing that has been bothering me lately. Recently, Hugh Jackman was in a movie called “Pan”. It sounds to me like it didn’t go very well, or at least it was not as great of a success as people expected it to be. What is the reason for this? It is not the fault of the actors, as I am sure that they all did the best they could. It was perhaps because of the fact that the story of Peter Pan has been told a million times in a million ways. And while each method of telling the story might be slightly different, it’s still the same story. Very often people get bored when they are offered the same thing over and over again (what’s the definition of insanity again?). If it is a story people have heard over and over again, they are going to lose interest. Batman=done to death, Marvel=also done to death, films about zombies=done to death!! Where’s all the great stuff that people used to make? The quirky science fantasy stuff and the action flicks that weren’t sequels, and the comedies that didn’t run off of bad sex jokes? All gone. Traded for rehashing, endless sequels, and a whole bunch of other stuff that nobody asked for. I will admit, there are a few dramas that I am anxious to see, and I am going to go and see “Star Wars” at least once (I hope I am not disappointed). Somehow it disappoints me that studios aren’t willing to take risks anymore. They want guaranteed hits as opposed to the films that may merely break even. What that does though is it leaves the little guy, passionate film makers who have the drive but not the resources, out in the cold. I know many fine young film makers who are starting out on fan films, and webseries, and other ambitious projects who would love nothing better than to be given a chance to make a film with the resources that the production companies and studios spend on the big guys. If we don’t help them out, then there are so many diverse stories that will never be told. Many of the people I know that are working on film projects are young people of color, and they deserve a chance. So lets finish with the rehashing and give these guys a chance!!

Thank you for reading this post. I know it is slightly long winded and perhaps a bit dour, but it was an opinion I just had to get out. I appreciate your readership!! If you like what you see, or you have an opinion, please comment, follow or like. This is my opinion, and I thank you for giving it a read!! Cheers and many thanks!!

Shara