Questions asked of female authors and scattered thoughts on the “Church Critic” leading lady

If you’re reading an interview, do you ever notice that the questions asked of female authors are markedly different than those asked of male authors? I have seen this in various magazines, and I think it hearkens back to the earliest days of female writers using male-sounding pseudonyms because a female writing was somehow similar to witchcraft. Writers are already a different breed, sharing insights about humanity that seem drawn from an unfairly gained supernatural source of insight. At least, that’s how Dorothea Brande characterizes the fears of non-writers about writers in her book, Becoming a Writer.  But then, on top of being a writer, to be a female? It’s a whole new realm of non-feminine activity – wanting to write and suss out the secrets of the human soul rather than suss out the mysteries of diapers and the kitchen.

To poke fun at these slanted interviews, comedic (and sometimes crass) author Chuck Wendig and his comrade Stephen Blackmoore answer a mock interview filled with these questions targeted at women in a Whack Magazine article. It’s rather hilarious!

Where did this focus on female authorship come from?

Well, last night, in my monthly writers’ group meeting, there were a series of breakthrough ah-ha! moments for me, some more mundane than others:

  • When a sentence ends with an ellipsis (…) you should also add a period.  That’s four dots for you counters out there….
  • For nouns that end in an S, such as “waitress” or “Jesus,” one ought to add only an apostrophe to indicate possession, rather than an apostrophe S.  HOW HAVE I FORGOTTEN THAT?  It’s my aurochs’ brain. (An extinct wild ox, oft-reference in George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones saga I’m enjoying. Also an opportunity to give an example. 🙂 )
  • Using! exclamation! marks! too! often! forces! the! readers! to! feel! your! emotion! Not! recommended! Whew.
  • Indentations before paragraphs aren’t needed for submitting a book to be published as an e-book, but they are needed for traditional print publishers.
  • FINALLY, the relevant point – apparently you can write a character’s insecurities unintentionally. One fellow writer remarked that the character I’d written from the first chapter of “Church Critic” seemed insecure in her marriage and her sense of purpose. I’d wanted the ups-and-downs of their marriage to come through, but I never wanted the main character to seem as if she didn’t want children. It’s just a matter of priority – in my mind, Darleene wants to make something out of herself, then have babies. But somehow, thanks to my fellow writer’s scrutinizing eye, it did seem as if Darleene didn’t want any whippersnappers ever, thank you very much.

One of those moments where you go whoooaaa…maybe I wrote this character intending one thing, but somehow in the process it reached back from its primordial soup of character-building and grabbed parts of me and pulled me in to create a sort of alternate dimension Susie. Or maybe I’m seeing a reflection of myself from what I’m written, psycho-analyzing my life through a character I’ve made up…whoa. That’s too meta.

Anyway – that’s the update!  The “Church Critic” manuscript is done, and we are in editing mode! Thanks to the writers’ group and to three anonymous editors who are plugging through it, plus two more who are looking at the first chapter specifically.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s