What not to call a female character

During my Christmas stay at my brother’s place (and I think during one of my many mentions of my superheroine Holly Hansson), my niece gave me a list of names that I should never call a female character: spunky, feisty, fiery, and frisky. I got to thinking about how I have heard those words, those cliches, those stereotypes, used on movies and TV.

FEISTY: After the teen girl tells the teen guy that she is NOT interested, and she walks away, and the camera zooms in on her swaying butt, the teen guy says to his buds, “Ooo, she’s so FEISTY, I’m gonna HAVE her!”

FIERY: A white male will call a Latino female “fiery” at least once per episode or movie. More if the Latino lady is one of the lead characters in the movie, where (you guessed it) the male will say he is gonna HAVE her.

SPUNKY: Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show said best why that word should not be used. Lou (smiling friendly): “Say, you’ve got spunk!” Mary (smiling modestly): “Well, yeah.” Lou (gruffly): “I hate spunk!”

FRISKY: I have not heard this used in movies or TV, but I have no doubt it is there somewhere. I plead guilty to using it in my Fault Zone story. At the end of that story, Holly went a little bit fangirl on her boyfriend. It’s her Batman thing. I will watch that in the future.

Resistance is futile. You will be evolved.

(CHILDHOOD’S END SPOILER ALERT! But the book came out in the 1950s, and the SyFy miniseries came out last week. So I ain’t really spoiling anything.)

I read Clarke’s Childhood’s End in high school, back in the 1970s, when mammoths ruled the Earth. I enjoyed the book, it got me reading Arthur C. Clarke. It is worth reading. But I think for me, maybe this story has not aged well.

The SyFy miniseries earlier this month points out the obvious: the adults would not be happy about dying out, as in given an offer they cannot refuse. As in being tossed into the trash while the kids are assimilated by the Borg.

In the book, humanity dies out because they no longer have children once the kids start to slowly evolve into one mind. The writing in the mini-series had a different spin. Humanity, but only after the kids are suddenly taken away by the little girl leading all the children to the Pied Piper (oops, I mean the Overmind) with that most tired and rude of cliches, “There is no need to be afraid.”

Spoken like a true Borg, kid. I am not supposed to be scared if you are going to BLOW UP THE ENTIRE FRICKING PLANET? An interviewer asked The Tick if he can destroy the Earth, and The Tick answered, “Egad, I hope not, that’s where I keep all my stuff!”

See below for how Worf of Star Trek Next Generation feels about this kind of improvement. Start at about 3:05.

My video Blab with writing coach Beth Barany!

beth-baranyI joined a chat on Blab with Beth Barany. She asked for guests to join the video, so I joined. If you want to find out what I sound and look like, (and get good editing advice from Beth), click the URL link below. I show up about 13 minutes into the video. The subject was editing your own writing.


Beth had good advice. She is a writing coach, after all. She suggests reading the story you are editing in a different format, such as on a Kindle or on paper. Or reading it out loud. Also, we writers write for ourselves, but we edit for our readers. Oh, yes, that is so true!

P.S. Harrumph, I could not embed the Blab video into my blog, but you can click the link above.

I am published in Fault Zone!

fault zone 2015I blogged about this before, and now my short story, The Sinister Soul Surfer, is published in Fault Zone; you can buy one in paperback! (This edition of Fault Zone is not on Kindle yet.)

A funny thing. I usually state Holly’s Batman-esque boyfriend as Cal “The Intellectual” Critbert. But a glitch in this printing made it Cal “The Intellecta” Critbert. And you know what? I might run with that. Cal “Intellecta” Critbert has a ring to it. And it implies that Cal will not call himself by a superhero name. Just like Holly.

Thank you, Peninsula Writers Club, for doing Fault Zone. And thanks especially to Ann Foster for all her editing help.

My article on Writer’s Fun Zone

writersfunzone-headerBeth Barany, writer coach and author of kickass heroine Henrietta, asked me to write an article about how Alfred Hitchcock influenced my writing. I wrote it. I sent it. And she posted it on her Writer’s Fun Zone website.

Click here and check it out! I had fun writing it. And it links to a few YouTube videos of Alfred that are fun to watch. FUN FUN FUN!!!