What is the difference between a female character and a male character in mainstream publishing? Well — that’s easy. The answer should be nothing.
It should be that male and female characters are both treated equally, but it doesn’t happen that way. Male characters are flawed but likeable. They struggle and are strong. Male characters are people. So what about female characters? It seems that today female characters are talked about in one of two ways, they are either the strong female lead or are a Mary Sue.
The trend now in female characters is that they need to be strong in all aspects, fierce, undeniably unbeatable. Why can’t we see female characters the way we see male characters? Flawed and strong? Why are female characters so extreme? What happened to real women? Are we not interesting enough to make real characters?
But, tip the scale in either direction, and critics will tell you your female lead is obviously inspired by the author and therefore a Mary Sue, OR has no flaws to be seen and is too good at everything, and therefore, a Mary Sue.
What about characters of racial minority? Or LGBT Characters? What happens then?
Well, we simply do not have enough of those.
Why is it so hard to get good female characters, POC characters, and LGBT characters in stories? Does mainstream publishing not think they will sell? If that’s so, then we need to look to self publishers such as Natalia Jaster and J.C. Lillis for help.
Self publishing isn’t the same as it used to be. Sure, you can get some pretty sketchy e-books. A lot of them seem to be just first drafts of novels. But what we need to start doing, is to use self publishing, and fund self publishers, so that main stream publishers know what we want.
If you agree with me up until this point, I have to share something with you. Crows on Heartstrings is a book of illustrated short stories, all centered around doomed love.
Our writers craft harrowing tales of families torn apart by entities unknown, lovers cursed by fairies, siblings fighting monsters, and more. No type of love is safe from our tragedies. Gay, straight, romantic, familial, friendly, no matter what your shape or color, we have something for you and we are coming for you. We also take our anti-discriminatory viewpoint and stretch it across genres. We have fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, period, and contemporary pieces.
These aren’t just romances, they’re epic tales of doom. I can’t wait to steal your heart and shatter it a little!
And as if that isn’t enough, we have haunting imagery from only the most talented artists, just to twist the knife. Did you think we were done? Because we even have comics and poems, all doomed.
But it’s better to love and to have lost, isn’t it?
Crows on Heartstrings aims to treat it’s characters as the real, flawed, gritty characters we want.
Our gay characters do more than come out and suffer for it. Our women save the day in the real and complex ways that men do, and our POC characters do not die to enhance the arc of white male leads.
Crows on Heartstrings wants to show the world that stories can be marketable AND diverse.
We need to take what we want.
We need to create a demand for diversity in our books.
We need to write and appreciate characters who thrive or struggle in their own stories without depending on a cisgendered white male lead.
LGBT, Female, and POC characters are NOT plot devices. If you want to see all these things and more in your books and media, you must support small, self publishers where they offer it.
To learn more about Crows on Heartstrings and how you can help, pledge to our Kickstarter !
(article originally published on medium.com)