WriMo update

I appear to have forgotten to blog yesterday.  Oops. I'm at 12,270 words so far in NaNoWriMo, about 500 words above par for today.  (Though I haven't entered today's wordcount, yet -- which I also haven't finished writing.)

I've also started participating for real in the NaNoWriMo online community!  By which I mean I asked for help with my plot on the forums, and I got some awesome responses.  Excerpts below the fold.

Altogether, I'm really happy with how my WriMo novel is going, and so far I haven't lost steam or felt like my plot was slipping out from under me.  I will report back soon!  And I will try to write a normal blog post tomorrow.

My problem was about a damsel in distress narrative.  Here are a few of my posts about the nature of my issue:

I'm trying to write a setting that contains as few problematic or harmful tropes as possible, and it just occurred to me that the sub-plot that's currently going on is a damsel in distress story.  I'm just going to keep plowing forward for now, because I don't want to scrap 2000 words that I can fix in the second draft instead, but I would like to have a conversation about it, to get some other folks' thoughts.

  • The character in distress is an elf, who prior to now has been the most helpful member of the group.
  • She was kidnapped when they arrived at her now-vampire-swarmed home city, for reasons that have to do with her own backstory, not any of the other cast's.
  • The other characters have to go in and rescue her, but once they find her she plays a central role in her own actual rescue.  (Like, she probably-but-not-definitely needed their help, but they definitely were hopeless without her.)

I'm not sure whether to view this as a successful, or potentially successful, re-imagining of the damsel in distress trope, or whether I should keep an eye towards scrapping it entirely and writing a different subplot here for the next draft.

I'd really appreciate some input.

When it came to the actual rescue, the rest of the group's role was basically just occupying the minions and giving her a window of surprise and opportunity.  She fought the main bad guy totally on her own, and was successful due to her own pre-existing and unique knowledge of the enemy.  & her success discouraged the minions, who were close to successfully wearing the party down.

[...]

The main cast of my story includes two women (one of whom is the viewpoint character), two men, and two different kinds of nongendered characters -- a monk from a religion that de-emphasizes gender, and a troll: troll culture in my setting treats gender as a choice that most, but not all, people make somewhere in their teens.

And here's an abridged version my favorite response from the whole thread:

omfgcate:

[...]

Here are some ideas:

  1. Damsel is kidnapped (this is problematic) but manages to get herself out of trouble on her own (problem solved) while her comrades try to save her. You say that your character probably couldn't get out on her own--work with the .09% chance that she could.
  2. Damsel is kidnapped [...] but is a key player in her own rescue, and is intelligent enough to figure out her friends' plan on her own.
  3. Switching the characters that are kidnapped while you write the rough draft--so instead of your female character getting kidnapped, you could substitute in a male character, [...] That would require changing up your backstory a little, from what you said, but it might be worth it. Men are RARELY Damsels in Distress because patriarchal societies don't like seeing men dehumanized.

Things I would watch out for:

  1. Overly sexualizing her while she is kidnapped, especially if her captors are male. But female captors can also be sexually abusive, so just don't do that.
  2. Overly victimizing her.
  3. General sexist things--threatening rape or sexual assault, for example. Just because it could happen in real life doesn't mean it's necessary to potentially traumatize a reader, let alone your character.

I hope these tips helped!