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Nivarion
01-22-2009, 09:47 AM
so i have a character that is a tom boy. everyone in the culture that she is from though wears pants, all year round.

now i was wondering, how do i show that she is a tom boy with out flat out saying Tom Boy?

it is a medievalish setting.

Chrisla
01-22-2009, 09:57 AM
so i have a character that is a tom boy. everyone in the culture that she is from though wears pants, all year round.

now i was wondering, how do i show that she is a tom boy with out flat out saying Tom Boy?

it is a medievalish setting.

How old is she? A tomboy is more interested in climbing trees than she is in playing with dolls, so you can show it through her actions. I've known tomboys who like feminine clothing, but don't like too-feminine pursuits. Often, they simply like boys more than they like girls. In your time frame, maybe the girl would rather learn how to sword fight than how to do needlework?

P.H.Delarran
01-22-2009, 10:29 AM
regardless of dress code, if your society has gender based activities, (like girls play with dolls and boys play with knives) your tomboy will be seen doing these things. She also may avoid the girlie girls,, a mutual sense of not belonging.
I played football, baseball and cow-dung frisbee, climbed trees, built forts and had bb fights and firecracker wars, fixed my own bicycles flats and always had skinned knees. I also played with dolls and played dress up, but usually by myself. I didn't feel like I fit in with girls my age because I knew I was a little rough around the edges, and I also held them in some disdain for sacrificing fun for fluff.

Puma
01-22-2009, 06:23 PM
Age of the character makes a big difference. A tom boy would

play baseball with the boys rather than whisper about the cute boys with the girls

have a practical coin purse to put in a pocket instead of a cute purse

climb trees, skateboard, wade in creeks, ride a bicycle, be competitive with the boys in sports like swimming and diving, get excited about "hot" cars, know car models on sight, like and know how to use some equipment, be more interested in helping her father paint the house than helping her mother do laundry, not try on 15 pairs of shoes to find the right pair, have an easy to take care of hair style ...

Hope those ideas help. Puma

CaroGirl
01-22-2009, 07:29 PM
Translate Puma's suggestions to a medieval setting and you've got it. Show it through her actions, especially in comparison to more average girls. What do the average girls do that's different to what a tom boy in that setting would do? I have a tom boy in my MG novel too and I try to show her as enjoying more boyish pursuits as opposed to more girlish ones. I never use the term "tom boy."

Puma
01-22-2009, 08:01 PM
Gads, I missed the medieval part. Sorry. I'm assuming she's not a commoner. Riding astride versus sidesaddle would be a definite. If there are equestrian contests or hunts - she'd try to be there or at least try it on her own. She wouldn't want a tame, elderly mare as her mount. She'd put aside her needlepoint and climb out the window to run along the brook and get her feet wet. She'd tie up her skirts. . She'd sneak off at every opportunity to watch her brothers (or others) train with weapons. She'd want to learn to shoot with bow and arrow (and wouldn't have the string scrape her arm). She'd want to learn to read and be better at it than the boys around. She'd offer her opinions on the classics, politics, battles, etc. (and frequently get chided for doing so). That better? Puma

Nivarion
01-22-2009, 08:48 PM
okay, so i have her talk tough to the boys, and often she will bully them.

will it help if i add some more girls to my cast?

Nivarion
01-22-2009, 09:30 PM
woo, im back. someone else needed the computer.

now, the culture the character i am having trouble with is a work base, non westerish society. she lives in a work bassed society, and everyone is expected to work hard. (not much play time)

i can't show her clothing as being messed up since they wear leather outer garments and wool inner, which makes them pretty well too tough to rip the knees out of.

men are expected to tan the leather, cut down the trees, sow and harvest the grain, raise the livestock etc.
the women are expected to make cloths, cook dinner, split the logs, chafe the grain.

she is an elf, so in years she is thirty. in age equivilents, we're looking at the range of thirteen to fifteen.

she sets off with two of the male MC's with an army to get some people back from raiders. is the love intrest of one of the MC's, and does not come home from the trip. (when this part came out i was like WHAT!)
since only the second chapter happens in their town, and takes place durring harvest i don't show her forms of play or interactions with the other girls of the town. It gets even harder because she isn't a POV, and with six POV's i think i am at the max.


but yet, i know she is a tom boy. are there any other ways im overlooking, or do i have to tell on this one.

drachin8
01-22-2009, 09:32 PM
This seems an odd question to me. If you write her doing the things she would normally do, then your readers will get a feel for who she is. If you write other characters reacting to her in the way that they truly would, then again, you give your readers a feeling for her (and them and the world, of course).

Is it really important that the reader snag on to the words "tom boy" when thinking of her, or that they just snag onto her as a super interesting character? I tend to prefer the latter, but that may just be me.

In other words, just keep writing her as her and stop worrying about it.


:)

-Michelle

Nivarion
01-22-2009, 09:35 PM
Gads, I missed the medieval part. Sorry. I'm assuming she's not a commoner. Riding astride versus sidesaddle would be a definite. If there are equestrian contests or hunts - she'd try to be there or at least try it on her own. She wouldn't want a tame, elderly mare as her mount. She'd put aside her needlepoint and climb out the window to run along the brook and get her feet wet. She'd tie up her skirts. . She'd sneak off at every opportunity to watch her brothers (or others) train with weapons. She'd want to learn to shoot with bow and arrow (and wouldn't have the string scrape her arm). She'd want to learn to read and be better at it than the boys around. She'd offer her opinions on the classics, politics, battles, etc. (and frequently get chided for doing so). That better? Puma

oh, and yes she is a commoner, sorry. but the bow part helps since she does do that, and is a good shot. as far as the fighting, not many people in her town learn that. it is just a little farming village tucked into the corner of a wood, with one road in or out that is almost over grown. learning (as in literacy) is taught throughout the town, though, so yea... *Bangs head on desk* good god did i cut myself off completely here?

im not trying to be dense, im just stuck with this bad, for reason.

Nivarion
01-22-2009, 09:37 PM
This seems an odd question to me. If you write her doing the things she would normally do, then your readers will get a feel for who she is. If you write other characters reacting to her in the way that they truly would, then again, you give your readers a feeling for her (and them and the world, of course).

Is it really important that the reader snag on to the words "tom boy" when thinking of her, or that they just snag onto her as a super interesting character? I tend to prefer the latter, but that may just be me.

In other words, just keep writing her as her and stop worrying about it.


:)

-Michelle


i think thats what i'll have to do. its just so prevailent (misspelled) in my mind that she is a tom boy.

well hopefully i'll pass it in through her action.

Kate Thornton
01-22-2009, 10:48 PM
I'm puzzled at the concept of tom boy - it's the sort of thing I thought had gone away as a result of gender-based activities being open to all. I like the idea of a strong female character, one who is drawn to the analytical and practical, and a girl-child in a medieval setting where gender-based activities follow a more rigid social structure is sure to be an interesting character - but I would not worry about the "tom boy" characterization - just concentrate on her activities, choices and reactions to situations and I think the character will manifest itself.

Kitty Pryde
01-22-2009, 11:18 PM
I'd say, show her doing the work that men usually do, and being angry/upset if she has to do 'women's work'. If there are things women do to accentuate their sexuality in the culture (like makeup, dress, certain actions or traditions), show her not doing them. There might be some people in her society who don't care what she does in terms of refusing gender roles, but other people might be made uncomfortable or angered by it. Hope that helps!

IceCreamEmpress
01-23-2009, 12:42 AM
There are few words I hate as much as "tomboy", but that's just me.

Moving past my own pet peeves: I assume what you mean is "girl who enjoys pursuits that her society views as typically 'masculine'" so the best way to show that is show her enjoying pursuits that her society views as typically "masculine".


will it help if i add some more girls to my cast?

Well, yes. Unless your story is set in a purposefully all-male environment (monastery, pre-modern military, etc.) it will be a pretty unrealistic story if there is only one female character.

Spring Gem
01-23-2009, 02:43 AM
You could make her a bad cook and show the other characters chiding her for not being more like her mother and sisters. Perhaps she is a whiz at mending gear for her horse, but she can't stitch a straight seam to mend her own clothing. BTW, simply felling a tree is less work than cutting and splitting the logs into managable size (from one who spent her teenage years with wood heat and outdoor plumbing :)).

Hope this helps.

Nivarion
01-23-2009, 03:30 AM
I'm puzzled at the concept of tom boy - it's the sort of thing I thought had gone away as a result of gender-based activities being open to all. I like the idea of a strong female character, one who is drawn to the analytical and practical, and a girl-child in a medieval setting where gender-based activities follow a more rigid social structure is sure to be an interesting character - but I would not worry about the "tom boy" characterization - just concentrate on her activities, choices and reactions to situations and I think the character will manifest itself.

this actually give me a good idea, i should have the women of their society braid their hair, and have the men wear it long too. it will even cause humor when my MC's meet the Ariam, who always braid their hair.

and i must disagree that tom boyishness has gone away. i know girls (or knew, they don't do that any more, they have gotten older) that didn't wear makeup, didn't cook or play with dolls or any of that stuff, instead they hunted, played foot ball, had belching contests, all of that stuff.

but yes, i think i will use her actions to call attention to it.


I'd say, show her doing the work that men usually do, and being angry/upset if she has to do 'women's work'. If there are things women do to accentuate their sexuality in the culture (like makeup, dress, certain actions or traditions), show her not doing them. There might be some people in her society who don't care what she does in terms of refusing gender roles, but other people might be made uncomfortable or angered by it. Hope that helps!

thank you, I'm a bit ditsy at times, and didn't think of her being angry about working "women's" work. it does help


There are few words I hate as much as "tomboy", but that's just me.

Moving past my own pet peeves: I assume what you mean is "girl who enjoys pursuits that her society views as typically 'masculine'" so the best way to show that is show her enjoying pursuits that her society views as typically "masculine".



Well, yes. Unless your story is set in a purposefully all-male environment (monastery, pre-modern military, etc.) it will be a pretty unrealistic story if there is only one female character.

i hate the word too, hence my reluctance to use it. its used as a mean word and some of my best friends have been tom boys... so yea.

my cast is about mostly males, and takes place mostly in armies. in total, i have a named cast of maybe more than a dozen males, but only four females. One is the warlord of Ariam, so not good for contrast. One is a soldier (and a tom boy as well) and then there is Sol'Via (who is a frilly girly girl), who i guess would be butting heads with Teh'Mehna a lot (even though in the first draft they hardly looked at each other, but that was a first draft), since they are both after the same guy.

ariam is a warior society, everyone is expected to know how to fight, and start learning when they are big enough to hold a weapon.


You could make her a bad cook and show the other characters chiding her for not being more like her mother and sisters. Perhaps she is a whiz at mending gear for her horse, but she can't stitch a straight seam to mend her own clothing. BTW, simply felling a tree is less work than cutting and splitting the logs into managable size (from one who spent her teenage years with wood heat and outdoor plumbing :)).

Hope this helps.

heh, ditsyness comes in again to block an idea from me. and to think that i scored high in the "Finding flexible solutions" part of my IQ test, its because i don't see the obvious. i never thought of having her cook! Or Sew!

but as for the splitting part, i build my grandparents wood pile in the summer. (they live in Utah, and i travel out there to help them) I have often had the chain saw break down early so i felled and bucked with the ax. i would say that splitting with a maul is far far easier than felling with an ax. i once had one (a maul) that could spit a one foot wide and foot long log with a single swing.



But yes as said before, this trait just emmenates from her in my mind. i just want to make sure i do it justice, and your suggestions are helping me a lot. a whole lot.

thanks yall.

Kate Thornton
01-23-2009, 04:15 AM
and i must disagree that tom boyishness has gone away. i know girls (or knew, they don't do that any more, they have gotten older) that didn't wear makeup, didn't cook or play with dolls or any of that stuff, instead they hunted, played foot ball, had belching contests, all of that stuff.

but yes, i think i will use her actions to call attention to it.



Oh, I didn't mean tomboyishness had gone away - I meant our way of viewing assertive girls who do not embrace gender-based playthings and activities has changed and we accept them more readily without a label, esp. the "tomboy" label which has always been offensive.

Girls - and boys for that matter - have such a wide range of non-gender based activities now. I know lots of boys who cook (my 7 yr old grandnephew is in a cooking class) and no one considers it a feminine pursuit, just a practical one.

In your story, if the gender roles, customs & pursuits are very separate, then your female protagonist's crossing of those lines will be enough to accentuate her strengths without having to hit your reader over the head with it.

Best of luck!

geardrops
01-23-2009, 04:42 AM
Gender-role-questions aside...

I don't know about anybody else, but I don't think on character. It just kind of occurs. So if I have to consciously think of how to show a character is a certain way and make an effort to do so... likely the character isn't actually that way.

Basically: you're sure she's a tomboy?

Nivarion
01-23-2009, 11:26 PM
Gender-role-questions aside...

I don't know about anybody else, but I don't think on character. It just kind of occurs. So if I have to consciously think of how to show a character is a certain way and make an effort to do so... likely the character isn't actually that way.

Basically: you're sure she's a tomboy?


yep i am. i work on a character until they... um change... its like having a dissembodied person hanging out with you. (i think i might be a bit sctizo, last time i had voices they gave me pill to make them go away. Nivarion stayed but the others went bye bye. ive been making new ones since.)

any way, ignoring my mental health or lack there of, i am sure she is a tomboy.