scary women

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Before you read a word I have to say on the subject, you first must go here and read Gillian Flynn’s article For Readers I Was Not a Nice Little Girl… (from Powell’s).

Scary women.

Ms. Flynn isn’t saying anything new; it’s something I’ve known for years, especially those toxic familial relationships. We’ve all known it. Ms. Flynn is just brave enough to say it.

When I was a teenager, I hung around some girls who had a version of “chicken” they liked to play. The trick was to hold a lit cigarette on the tender area between the thumb and forefinger. Whoever pulled the cigarette back first was the loser. I never reached the point of inebriation to engage in chicken, but the three girls I knew wore their burn scars proudly. To destroy part of themselves was a badge of honor for them.

I knew a girl they called Pop Bottle, and I won’t say why here, but let your imagination run wild. I knew a woman who sold soft porn and pistols out of the back of her pick-up truck. I knew a woman who slowly destroyed her family so she could isolate her mother and inherit everything. More mornings than I care to admit, I’ve awakened with a mouthful of mean, looking for a victim before I got out of bed.

Scary women.

I’ve got two scary women in my novel. Neither of them were nice girls, and they grew up to be vicious women, each in their own ways. Catarina learned the rules so she could break them. She knows how to bend and manipulate affections to keep her opponents off guard. She can drag her revenge into the years and never stop savoring her victories. All the while looking for another to savage.

Rachael is a survivor. She’ll hurt before she can be hurt, and she will constantly test the people around her. She and Catarina share a primal rage when they are denied their heart’s desires, but Rachael doesn’t have Catarina’s maliciousness. That is Rachael’s saving grace, although it makes her no less frightening.

What kind of women do you have in your novel? Are they scary? What are their motivations?


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6 Responses to scary women

  1. Nora Weston says:

    Hello. Oddly enough, I have a character in my novel, Angelfire, named Rachel, too. You could say she is a survivor as well…being that she’s a demon who has stolen souls since the time of Marc Antony. Stealing souls is her sustenance, so it’s a life and death thing for her. Interesting post!

    • Teresa says:

      Welcome, Nora! I’m going to be heading over to your blog later when I have more time. I like the sounds of your Rachel and idea of the stealing souls as sustenance. It’s always nice to find another lady who writes dark fantasies and horror. I hope you’ll come back.

  2. Great post (and great link to Gillian Flynn’s post – I’m a little disturbed now, but in a good way). I have a fear of writing women characters because I’m worried I’ll get it wrong. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from trying. I like the women and girls in my stories to be competent, independent and willing to take the lead. So far I have no women villains, but your post has given me some ideas on where to take one character. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Teresa says:

      Hi Jonathan! I think a lot of men are wary of writing female characters and being bludgeoned with the “no believable female characters” stick. I quite often find that “no believable female characters” equals “I couldn’t find a female character to relate to.” I think a lot of men do a better job writing believable female characters than women want to admit. 😉

      Good luck and take her where she needs to go, even if she needs to go into those black places in her soul.

  3. Kelly Bryson says:

    My antagonist is a woman- though she isn’t presented as evil as much as controlling until towards the end. But evil she is.
    My protag is the sweetest thing…until she kills some people. In self-defense, but they’re still dead. Does that make her a scary woman?
    I don’t think so.
    It’s about the malicious intent. Even if the effect is small, you know what a scary woman is capable of.

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