In her recent blog post, “why i write for women,” fellow Women’s Fiction author Jamie Raintree explained “women are incredibly deep and complex creatures and I think that’s what makes relationships so complicated.”
She hit the nail on the head.
Depth is variable, but we are complex creatures, and I’d be willing to bet 90% of conflict issues are because, unlike the men in our lives, there’s nothing easy about us.
Let’s skip romantic relationships for a while and concentrate on virtually any other relationship involving women.
I know! Let’s pick an office!
In this office, we’ll have six women of various ages, with varying degrees of talent, knowledge, intuition, wisdom, and whatever other virtues you’d like to assign to them.
I don’t know what you’re thinking at this point–you’re probably waiting for more information from me, but really, how much more do you need? Ya got six working women, ranging in age from just one step out of puberty to just one step away from retirement, so this is what I think: at any given time, at least two of these women are going to be PMS-y, and they’re going to be within close proximity to each other and those having heat flashes from menopause. The hormones alone create drama.
But let’s skip hormones for a while.
We have six women of various ages and widely varied backgrounds. She who was raised as a princess and became the high school sweetheart will expect fealty from everyone else in the office. This puts her in direct conflict with any other woman with the same background, because, after all, there can be only one darling swan in any gaggle of geese. But it also puts her at odds with the woman raised with brothers. This one can wrangle the Mississippi into a babbling brook before bringing venison home for dinner, but she can’t stomach the princess who won’t get her hands dirty. Both types of women become the secret source of humor and endearment for the older ones who discovered much earlier that the world didn’t revolve around them and it’s not necessary to wrangle the Mississippi.
But let’s skip the upbringing for a while.
We have six women of various ages and various degrees of beauty, and–let’s throw this in for fun–one man in the office. Good-lookin’, middle-aged charmer, appealing to women of all ages.
Oh, my. The competition is on. One shameless flirt’s claws slash another shameless flirt, when the second shows up for work in a red dress instead of a navy suit. Jealousy rages if the poor man even glances at another woman–any other woman. The rumor mill generates vicious gossip; small half-truths of misbehavior explode into full-sized deeds against God and humanity. Have you heard what she did?!
Or, maybe not.
Maybe we’ll have to go full circle and consider the romantic relationship in an office scenario. Perhaps all the other women are rooting for one particular workmate to win the only man available thus far. Perhaps this one woman is too timid, too insecure, too self-conscious to react to the man’s flirtations and advances. Or perhaps she has a fairy tale idea of relationships and is in for a rude awakening–and the entire drama is played out in front the whole office, and everyone offers advice (because, after all, that’s where women excel), and everyone takes her side (because, after all, all men are muck-lovin’ pigs), and everyone tells her she’s too good for him (because, after all, women in general are too good for men, it’s a universal truth). It’s all his fault, of course, because even if it isn’t, a real woman can contrive blame in her sleep.
Next thing you know, she breaks it off with him and feels obligated to get another job because she couldn’t possibly work another day in the same office. Meanwhile, woman #2 is lining up her sights on him . . .
You want to know why it’s fun to write about women? Because I’ve just barely scratched the surface of all that could happen in one office with six women and a helpless man.
We are complicated. We’re crafty. Some of us are downright dangerous, others clueless. We’re daddy’s girls, temptresses, devils in Prada, angels in innocence. We’re tougher than others think, but not as tough as we think. We can crumble at a cross glance, scrape the sky with the slightest nod of approval. Love turns us into nurturers. Threaten what we love, and we become feral. Heaven help the source of the threat.
With subjects like this, who couldn’t find plot, conflict, climax?
Have you ever seen Rizzoli and Isles? These two women are total opposites. One was raised rich, the other poor. One has a doctorate, the other a detectives’ shield. One likes champagne, the other, Sam Adams. They’re best friends and play off each other beautifully. And they’re different.
Doesn’t matter what your genre is, if you have women in your work, explore the personality possibilities, then explore the conflict possibilities between personalities. You could end up with a sensation of Rizzoli and Isles proportions!
…. and that’s why for the longest time, my best friends were guys! My absolute best friend is my husband now, but I’m starting to get more girlfriends–a few of which agree that guy friends are much easier to deal with. It’s just more complicated to have close guy friends when one is a married woman!
I was the same way–to the extent that I’m still not always confident dealing with females. Yes, I’m getting better, but I never know when I’ve said something that earned me an enemy and lost a friend. Female relationships can be tricky!
I loved reading this! You paint such a vivid picture because I’ve KNOWN each of these women. And as a female reader, I can empathize with any other type of woman–even the meanest in the pack–because I’ve felt that way too. No matter how we choose to portray those feelings on the outside, the feelings are universal. I think you have your next book here! Lol!
I don’t know why it never dawned on me before to use the universal truths about women to deepen the characterization of women. Lands–now that I think about it–characterization of females is one of the reasons I like Lisa Gardner so much. She does a terrific job presenting the variety in our personalities.
I’ll have to check her out!
Hope you like suspense. The one I have in mind here is Survivors’ Club. Her characterization of the club members is particularly good in this.
You’re right, we are complicated. Maybe that’s why I seem to prefer writing about men. :p