Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!
I’ve been working on my science fantasy space opera PRINCE OF STARS as much as I can over the last week. My weekend was pretty packed with needed household projects, but I still managed to get in some good writing time after a viewing of The Empire Strikes Back for inspiration. Sunday found me finally retrieving many of my books from the basement and unpacking them onto the shelves of my Writers Study…
It’s getting there!
…I then used said study to write about laser-swords going toe-to-toe with Unionist Space Marines until 1 am…
I’ve been revising and editing the PRINCE OF STARS as I go. Its reached four-thousand words and isn’t close to done yet… Oh yeah, and it has eight characters, plus bad-guys and more blaster bolts than you can shake a sonic-spanner at! ;-) Those are probably all things that every writing adviser ever has said to avoid in short fiction, but I feel that it’s working… Somehow. The build-up seems to flow well and the action swept right in, so I’m just going to keep on writing what I’m writing!
I’m not sure if I’ll have it done before my deadline of Sunday, but if not I’ll try and finish it over the long holiday weekend thereafter.
One thing that turned into an unexpected hurdle this week with PRINCE OF STARS was some superficially short and simple description of what many of my protagonists were wearing. The four daughters of Kensei Kenara are each clothed in what I term a “Body Glove”: basically a uniform, snug neck to toe jumpsuit or unitard that each has personalized in their own way. A good modern day example would be something like a wetsuit that scuba divers might wear:
Each has a color pattern of their choice and one even has the suit stopping at the knees and elbows to leave her limbs bare thereafter.
I made this choice for a number of stylistic reasons. First, the daughters fight in a very athletic style where movement is their greatest asset and not plated armor. They get in close to fight hand to hand, and providing your opponents as few things to snag and grapple you with would be a concern such attire would address. They wear their hair short or bound back for the same rationale.
Second, the look is clearly futuristic. It has been seen in lots of media on that subject, from the garish stylings of Super Sentai…
… to EVA pilots in Evangelion…
…or the Zero Suit of Samus Aran.
The look I was going for was more along the lines of this:
In the background of the story, this type of clothing is actually a common utilitarian garment for spacefaring folk: they are form-fitting backup space suits. Modestly durable and offering protection from temperature extremes, with the addition of boots, gloves and a helmet they become vacuum-safe. An everyday working vac-suit is a much bulkier and tougher affair, but these are intended to be worn all the time in spaceflight. I imagine that they would be very useful in cases of an emergency decompression, for light-occasional extravehicular duty, and as secondary life-support within a larger spacesuit.
The characters are just dispensing with the helmets and sometimes the gloves (or more, as in the case of Roh’s short-limbed variant), because they are planet-side. And that’s all well and good, and makes sense, but as I was writing the story I suddenly realized and became concerned that I might be over-sexualizing these girls in their mid-late teens by placing them in skintight body-suits.
Was I? Or could what I’m writing be interpreted that way? I had to really think about it. I am a male in the heterosexual spectrum of things, so it was possible that in channeling my inner teen voice to lend these characters some life that he was perhaps enjoying the pretty girls a little too much… even if that wasn’t my intent. This got particularly tricky because there is some young attraction and budding chemistry going on between two of my protagonists that starts early in the story.
It’s not that I have some code to only write wholesome family entertainment. In fact, I enjoy writing something sensual and renders of my fiction could probably point out a few examples. The issue is that’s not what I’m trying to do with this story, or at least that part of it. It’s an action-adventure story at heart.
Ultimately, I sat-down and gave a firm re-read of what I had written. Although I don’t have any control over how any given reader interprets my writing, my words are my words. And the words I had used to describe these characters and their actions didn’t feel objectifying or sexualizing to me. I think that’s the important thing to remember here: the context, styling and intent of your language.
Just because you write a character wearing something that could be considered “sexy”, or even nothing at all, that doesn’t specifically mean you’re sexualizing them. It’s all context and style. I could write a scene with an attractive woman in her underwear, watching TV and eating from a tub of ice cream because she’s alone, has had a bad day and her air conditioning is broken… and show any number of her traits other than her sex appeal.
Likewise, I could write a scene about a man in filthy overalls and play-up his rugged attractiveness. Or about the warm embrace and caress of a woman in the frumpiest pajamas you’ve ever seen.
Context. And that’s why the body-gloves stayed in the story. ;-)
Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!