For my 10 Stories in 10 Weeks, I’ve been submitting the stories to a new market to complete the week. All of my stories have women characters. Not necessarily a woman protagonist — Story #4 has a male protagonist, but a woman character figures prominently in the solution of the story.
I know magazines are hungry for stories with women characters (as well as characters of color, and characters with disabilities). So I look for places that want that and was quite shocked to see this guideline on Shimmer:
We are extremely unlikely to be interested in rape stories. We encourage you to find other dimensions for your female characters besides their rapeability.
My jaw hit the floor. How can any writer think this is good characterization or good storytelling? Worse, the fact that the magazine had to post this particular guideline means that a lot of writers do think it’s a good way to characterize women and tell a story. Doesn’t all the news about the sexual assaults in the military mean anything?
In my novel Miasma, my male main character has a female sidekick who is a soldier detached out to him. In the original conception of the story, she had been stalked while at war and beat the crap out of the guy when he came at her with a knife. Even though it is a reality for women in the military, I took all that out after the story broke on the efforts to make Lara Croft “vulnerable.”
There has to be a better way than making a woman a victim to build a story.