So I’m toying with this website’s seven archetypes for women and specifically what ones Black Widow, Captain Marvel, She Hulk, Wasp, Lady Thor and Scarlet Witch come under, so I figure I should check with some female writers on here! Even though this is for a Male Reader story (the title is Attachment To A-Force) I want the female characters to come across as believable, even if I feel I know them fairly well, so I’m looking for a second opinion via female eyes!
As I see it…
Probably the Lover but with some of the Huntress in there too?
Probably the Queen but again with some Huntress aspects.
Definitely the Mystic, possibly with aspects of the Sage.
Definitely the Sage when Jane, possibly with elements of the Queen when Thor.
Probably th e Sage as Jennifer and a mix of the Huntress and the Lover as She Hulk?
Apologies in advance for this weird questioning, I’m fairly sure I’m the first male writer to approach Who Would You Fall For style Interactive Fiction and it does mean I’m in fairly unexplored territory… It’s possible I’m just second guessing myself too much and should get into it. Thanks in advance!
I might not be the best to answer that, cause for me archetypes are more stereotypes and totally boring. Aside from media people are not one thing, that Sounds one dimensional the fun comes with combining the types. Take Scarlet witch as an example, she definetely has mystical archetype features but with Vision she absolutely has the loyality the queen archetype represents.
I mean dating games often make people one dimensional, but in my opinion, that are the Bad dating games. I would always prefer the more realistic ones.
I guess so, typically dating sims do seem to have a selection of types of characters and the Who Will/Would You Fall For genre seems often to be the same - a how to guide I saw for female readers describes characters like the Romantic, the Jerk, the Boy Next Door, the Flirt and the Mystery, for example. So I figure having female counterparts to that suits the genre somewhat, if perhaps a bit of a cliche. I also recognize that dating sims tend to be quite different based on their focus and that straight male ones run the gauntlet of… well, being porn, which doesn’t wholly interest me with this particular idea. So I want it to be realistic - the feeling I’ve had is like the better Mass Effect games with the relationships, specific content for characters and the lead to romance that can give the player.
The setup here is that the Male Reader is a SHIELD agent who has been attached to A-Force (basically an all female Avengers team) to deal with paperwork and team morale - it’s actually inspired by a similar idea doing on AOOO for a Female Reader with the five original team Avengers (Steve, Tony, Clint, Thor, Bruce) - the format is slightly different to some WWYFF’s but it’s what I was inspired by here.
And there’s super villains and specific stuff for characters and plot development and hopefully the option to develop a friendship with one member alongside a romance with another (was inspired by Wayhaven there). So that’s where I’m coming from.
@poison_mara Against my judgement, sure? There’s some stuff that’s staying consistent with this story though because it’s a WWYFF rather than a CYOA or what we typically consider Interactive Fiction on here. This is a basic guide to the whole thing.
Oh I like the premise that the MC is “only” human.
I would Go without the archetypes and concentrate in what the heroines are. Like She Hulk, she is a smart lawyer that in her she-hulk self has to face the same problem her uncle has, the having to give in to the primal side of humans
Is it to seek validation to write a certain way, with these “Women Love Power” tropes?
Is it to gain cover to say: “It is ok to write these archetypes, because women testers gave me permission to do so?”
Or is it something totally different, because your stated goals quoted here are not really inclusive of each other.
If this story is for the “Male Reader” and you want the female characters to come across as believable, then you would have a wide-range of testers AND a few sensitivity readers help you; because gender is not a binary thing
Using tropes like this and then limiting your testers to females would be the last thing you want to do… you are seriously making yourself look like an apologist, seeking to “evolve” these just enough to avoid upsetting females.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this thread everyone – Please keep the discussion civil AND remember to state your position ONCE and then let others respond before re-engaging in sniping.
Archetypes are a fascinating view of how messed up racist and misanthropy human is. No single men women or nb or gender fluid is dimensional and corresponding with a label put by an old patriarchal structure.
We are people Characters has to be people as well, not a label. With the label, you know exactly all the character even before reading. It is boring and it is unoriginal.
It is the main problem of Bad dating sims. There are hundreds of games with exactly the same romances and same combos, just changing cosmetic make up.
An author has to inspire of creating living breathing multi-dimensional characters. Not just a stereotype to bang. Not focus on stereotypes is a way to fight patriarchy and racism.
If you want make your characters believable, trying to mold them in a certain archetype instead of writing them as three-dimensional people wouldn’t help you. Especially if those archetypes are so stereotypical as those. Seriously, frigidity and emotional unavailability as challenges of independent women?
@Kaelyn Yeah I liked the angle of a SHIELD agent because it allows for the Reader to be in on that world straight off without being a powerhouse, and to have the option of including some well known SHIELD characters like Nick Fury, Maria Hill (who at one point was a romance option before I elected to go with Jane Foster’s Thor instead), Fitz and Simmons etc.
Going by my feelings and that of others I suspect that I’ll just focus on the characters rather than stick them into simple boxes. She Hulk is actually the hardest to do because as well I don’t have an MCU version to work from yet like the others, though she’s great in the comics (possibly my fav female super hero actually). The lawyer aspect will be there (she’s Bruce’s cousin btw) and I plan to look at the different aspects of her as someone who was originally a little introverted when it came to relationships but thanks to her Hulk persona became more confident and even flirty with those she likes - the concept of how that transformation changes her personality interests me greatly, and there might be something a little similar with Jane Foster and her Lady Thor persona.
@Eiwynn There’s not really a specific goal per say outside me wanting to have well written female characters, even if it’s written in mind for male readers - I think given how I sometimes have read female written WWYFFs and how their take on male characters are shows some might benefit from an eye by the opposite sex at times. So basically it’s a story where the MC is male but one where I want the female characters to be decent, if that makes sense. I suspect if I have the chance I’ll possibly have some male readers outside me read the thing, otherwise that defeats the point a little! I should also mention I have a counterpart to this with the Sinister Six where the MC is specifically female, so I label that one as a Female Reader fic - this formatting is pretty common in Reader Insert style fiction, of which WWYFF style fiction is a branch of.
@poison_mara All sound advice, and maybe a demonstration of why WWYFF fiction isn’t totally Shakespeare as it also tends to stick the male love interests into specific labels (I mentioned some above) usually for the sake of variety. One advantage I have here of course is that these characters are all established and have decent backgrounds to start from.
@Kotosinica Fair point. I suppose another reason I thought about doing so is that they are part of a team and so represent certain roles within that team - Carol as the defacto leader, Natasha and Hope as the infiltrators, Jane and Jennifer as the powerhouses and Wanda as the wild card and mystic. That website was if I honest the first thing I found on the subject so maybe not the best choice!
Thanks for your insightful suggestions so far in any case! I have a bit of work ahead on both An Attachment To A-Force and At The Mercy Of The Sinister Six to consider it seems…
I’m asking really because the style of fiction I am writing hasn’t really had a male writer like myself approach it before, regardless of whether I’m writing a story with a specific gender in mind or one that is gender neutral with a mix of romance options (I have a couple of ideas like that). So basically I am in very unexplored territory.
Welp, I’m glad you’ve been convinced of throwing out these archetypes because yes, as you should have figured out when you had so much trouble pigeonholing Jennifer, none of these archetypes are actually representative any of these characters.
One thing I think you ought to take away from this is that archetypes aren’t a substitute for characterization. They’re one dimensional for a reason, and that’s to provide a flash-in-the-pan understanding of a character without delving too deeply into their character because the point of them isn’t to be fleshed out characters, but to be literary shorthand.
As an example: Mother archetypes are used to express to the reader that the protagonist is in a scene or situation in which they are safe and loved unconditionally. It’s why you have so many dead mothers in fiction. Since women have historically been resigned to the role of caretaker, the easiest (and laziest, if I’m being honest) way to push protagonists into an adventure is to completely destroy the sense of security they have felt up until that point, giving them no choice but to start their journey. The mother in these cases is not her own person, she’s not even a character really, she’s just there to provide a backstory.
Another example: the archetype of a wise elder (say a crone, if we’re going with the Maiden-Mother-Crone triumvirate) is usually utilized to represent or contrast against what a society’s values are and thus how the protagonist will uphold or transform them in some fashion. They also tend to serve as an info-dumper when the protagonist initially ventures into the unknown.
Take the grandmother in Moana, she not only provides the info-dump at the beginning about Te Fiti and Maui, she also represents the old ways of Motanui—that of exploring for new homes—which the present inhabitants reject. She’s the one who instructs Moana to transgress their society’s current cultural norms (“Nobody goes beyond the reef.”) in order to save them from doom. In doing so, Moana transforms her society into valuing exploration again.
As an example in which the archetype is in the wrong, just look at Hot Fuzz and the neighborhood watch (populated entirely by the village elders) that murders people to maintain a status quo. And to be clear, a crone/elder character is not the only way to represent society’s values and how the protagonist will react to them, but that is their usual functional purpose.
I can provide further examples, but I think I’ve made my point clear enough. Archetypes are not what you should be focusing on unless you are creating characters wholecloth, in which case you can certainly use archetypes as a basis but you will inevitably find yourself changing the character to further suit your story’s needs. Again, they don’t need to be changed if they’re there just to serve a purpose. Thing is, you didn’t even need these archetypes at all because the characters you want have already been developed beyond their actual initial archetypes (femme fatale, wallflower, etc.), so to put them back into a box is patently unnecessary and would have run the risk of undermining their characters entirely. I mean, I can’t imagine that you as a fan would have enjoyed reading a Jennifer Walter who lacks her signature sense of humor because she had been reduced to a set of traits that don’t entirely define her, so why run the risk of displeasing other readers?
So yeah, as everyone has said before me, just write them as they are, not as what you think they should be as dictated by the apparent demands of the genre which—once again—seem like they should only be applied when you’re creating entirely new characters, not ones that have already been created and developed beforehand. These are well-known and beloved characters, lean into them and their characterizations and history. You’re more than likely to get readers who are already familiar with them, so (as with any fanfic) you have even more leeway to just explore the characters because you don’t even really need to introduce them or anything. Just write them as interesting as already they are and you should be fine.
Aha, if you want help in writing “well written female characters” … the first thing, I’d suggest is ditching your reliance on a “superhero archetype” structure that is based on 80 year old origins of superhero comics.
Once you decide to develop your own mechanics and structures for a unique game you are designing then I would suggest looking at the following:
How to flesh out your characters to be more realistic and believable
On a more serious note, if you’re writing female characters, I would tell you not to mould them into a certain archetype. Especially not the Avengers. Because then, you would run the risk of triggering the very toxic fanbase of Marvel lurking everywhere.
@Eiwynn gives some good pointers, @poison_mara has struck the hammer of truth as always and @rose-court’s explanation is precise. I will add this; just try to follow the original source materials when writing any Marvel character. Unless you want to create your OOCs. Which is fine, but try to tread carefully in that regard.
Others have said what I wanted to say, but I add some of these:
Ideally, that should always be an author’s focus. It’s pretty damn obvious to me when the author is making a character to check off boxes.
Subsequently, I lose interest in those characters and don’t even pay attention to them because I’ve learned that there’s not much to them besides being a living check off box.
I personally find this not as interesting because people’s personalities aren’t generally tied to a physical characteristic or physical ability they can perform.
What would be more interesting to me is how a character acts in the workplace versus how they act at home and maybe how they don’t want people in those separate spheres to see the other side of them.
This is essentially what it boils down to.
I am not a male. I don’t know what it’s like to live as a male, but that doesn’t stop me from making characters who are male.
Honestly, my advice would be to forget that they’re female. Just for one moment.
Instead? Focus on fleshing out their hobbies, likes, dislikes, what they would do, what they wouldn’t do, their contradictions, how they annoy other people, why other people like them, what they hate about other people, how they deal with conflict - both physical and emotional -, and other things like that.
And then once you got that all said and done, then you add on the fact that they’re female.
Speaking from my experience, I save things like sexuality, gender, skin color, etc. until the very end. I might have a vague idea what I think I want, but after I flesh the character out a bit more, I end up changing things about them.
Oh absolutely to both of these, I would in fact level this statement at most popular media with some characters today because there are times it definitely feels like they made their race/gender/sexuality the first and foremost thing. If I was tackling original characters I would definitely want to think of their backgrounds and stories and central characters first, even if I might ideally want a nice mix of nationalities and sexes and the like. Thankfully Marvel did the hard work for me here.
As I said this was really a respond to the genre of Who Will You Fall For’s background as a style of both CYOA, Reader Insert and Dating Sim and its habit to stick to generalized male stereotypes, probably because many of these stories are written for a younger female reader in mind, and I ideally want to move past that anyway. The genre in fact tends to have a number of shall we say problematic tropes attached to it too (female reader goes into dark alley, gets attacked, gets rescued by typically supernatural type, faints, gets brought to large location where all boys live, effectively kidnapped because ‘knows big secret’, probably finds out she is basically a chosen one etc) that I want to move past, hence quite a different setup for my Male Reader SHIELD/A-Force story. Granted there are some elements of that in my Sinister Six story (which makes more sense since the six characters involved are all essentially villains, albeit for tragic reasons) but the plan is to partly subvert those (initially via the female reader being an older age anyway than the typical 18ish one - mid to late twenties with some worldly experience and working for the Daily Bugle so in a context to be investigating possible villain hideouts).
But in any case the six female characters are all proactive and heroic in their own way - the male character certainly isn’t there to be their heroic equal, more to being a hero in a different context as support - not a pushover since they’re a SHIELD agent but not likely to blow up a Kree ship with one fist. I am glad you know that Jennifer is the fun and confident type and I definitely want her to be that, I just might allow those who get to know her better to see she wasn’t always that way. And I can use their histories to define more of that (for example Natasha’s numerous facets as shown by her varied personality across the movies from stoic to bemusement to fear to flirtation, or Hope’s distrust of SHIELD due to the way it treated her father and her occasional snark). The theory is that there’s a main storyline with all the characters and then the multiple choice moments allows for character moments with your preferred character, and then occasionally chapters with specific characters, all leading to your final choice. (Friendship and Romance and maybe Sex, depending on how I feel about that with each character.)
Thanks for these! They might be useful reading regardless, but if I ever manage to get round to construction of a COG story proper having that will prove useful.
It is possible that maybe another male writer has done a WWYFF before but if so I haven’t seen one - they tend to be done by female writers and nearly all have just male romances, sometimes female romances too. Most are original fiction but some are adaptions. So yes, new ground I think!
The Reader is definitely not Coulson, no. He’s likely to appear though, alongside some other SHIELD agents, both from the comics and TV show. Sinister Six will also have Daily Bugle characters and MAYBE Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock/Venom as a special secret seventh option (still torn about that). Thanks for your advice in any case.
You make some good points - clearly Jennifer and Jane here are a bit distinctive because their powers do have an impact on who they are when they transform, but I like the idea of who they are more in their civilian lives (Jennifer has to balance being a hero and a lawyer for example, possibly with a known alter ego - that’s undecided) so thanks for the suggestion.
I’ll let you guys when I have something up and running (either on Quotev or on Archive Of Our Own, though the format will probably be quite different on both) and you can let me know if I done goofed or not.
I really like what @AChubbyBlackCat said, “Honestly, my advice would be to forget that they’re female. Just for one moment.” This is how I approach my own characters, I tend to just build characters that could be whatever gender, and then assign them whatever one I see fit (often the opposite one of what I think would be conventional). In my own way of seeing the world (and this might be slightly unconventional), I don’t believe there is actually a difference between genders, or at least I haven’t been able to detect noticeable ones until now (which are not dictated by people willing to conform to cultural stereotypes).
Btw am not saying that I create very believable characters (this seems to be a recurring point in my games, criticism of “superficial” characters… this could indeed be a part of the problem, my normal refusal to look think of them as belonging to one gender or another… though I don’t personally think so, I reckon it stems more from my way of just treating them as “pawns in my plot” or "NPC game tools"m that don’t require developed backgrounds or complexity -I hope I am slowly improving on that, but I know I have much to learn-). But anyway, as a result, a few months ago I got a negative reviewer comment on steam, which I am very proud of actually! tbh the review is also correct, in that every time I came to the moment of “which gender should this character be” I thought… “well, male expected, so then female”… maybe this indeed resulted in an imbalance, without me noticing (which is not good either, but hey, there are thousands of years of imbalances tilted towards males, so this can’t be that harmful either)
“Just about every character in the story in a leadership position is a women for some reason, the mayor, the wallstreet ceo, the supervillain genius power armor user, the leader of the generic Suicide Squad, the top hero in the world from Japan, the boss at office, the police chief, the vampire leader, and so on. Even this one superhero spends half the time treating my character like rubbish, and even calls him a in Spanish, but then gets mad if I point out how overwhelmingly incompetent the person is. She even expects me to be defaulted to being her side kick to meet the only character in the game that is a guy in a leadership position”.
And… I could be wrong in some of what I am saying above. If ever anybody detects anything they don’t like in any of my games, please let me know (no need to mince your words either, I can take -and actually love, it tends to be very memorable and highlights significant problems- blunt criticism! I am a (white) male, and I do understand that as a result, I cannot necessarily always understand (though I try my best) the feelings of everybody in society.
The thing is, I don’t think archetypes are inherently bad. They have their purposes, and they exist for a reason, and if properly used or subverted they can add a lot to the story.
Archetypical characters mostly exist to fulfill a certain, usually specific role within the story. For an overused example look at the Mentor, which exists to give the protagonist, and by extension the audience, crucial information, and to facilitate the protagonist’s development from an average person to a hero capable of taking on the story’s challenges. There are plenty of examples of great characters who fit into this archetype, in both classical and contemporary literature and other media. Of course, most of the more memorable ones do have other traits that define them beyond just the archetype they fit into, so it’s important to note that even if you do want to use archetypes, it would do you well to flesh them out a little more.
That being said, I think it’s important to know when it’s appropriate to use archetypes vs when it isn’t, and I personally don’t think this is the type of story where you’d want to use a lot of archetypes. Prolific use of archetypes is mostly fine in adventure stories centered around a single protagonist, because in those stories it’s the hero’s journey that matters the most and everything else is just there to move that aspect of the story along. However, in a WWYFF type of story where the goal is to get the reader invested in the ROs, rather than the main protagonist, I do think the characters need to be more than just archetypes, and that basing them solely off those archetypes might be off-putting to a lot of people who are looking to get emotionally invested in these characters. I understand that it’s a genre convention for WWYFF type games to rely heavily on tropes and archetypes, but that’s why a lot of them tend to be so forgettable, and just kind of start mixing together in your brain if you play a bunch of them back to back. The more memorable of these, such as Mystic Messenger, do rely on characterization beyond just archetypes to sell their characters.
@rose-court said it a lot better than I ever could, but basically archetypical characters are inherently one-dimensional and uninteresting. They exist either as plot devices for when the author needs someone to fulfill a certain role within their story, or as a jumping off point for actual characterization and not a replacement for it. If you want readers to care about your characters, they need to feel like real people, whether they fit into an archetype or not. Sure, you can base a character off an archetype and still make a good character, as long as they are fleshed out beyond that. Trying to subvert the archetypes might also work, but this is dependent on most of the audience being familiar with the archetypes in question and the tropes they’re associated with, and even then it still shouldn’t be treated as a substitute for proper characterization. For a story like this, character definitely takes precedence over everything else, so I think it’s better to put your efforts on that rather than anything else. Don’t worry about archetypes for now and just focus on writing some compelling and badass female characters!
So, yeah, sorry if this was really long and rambly but hopefully it made sense and was at least a little helpful. Good luck with your writing!
ok first im getting that youre writing dating sim with male mc and female ros and want to make the ros believable, kudos to that. i actually cant remember any male dating sims with decent female charas, the ones ive played scarred me so bad that i dont want to touch them ever again
there are already so many good suggestion on how, i just want to add how about model them from women in your life, women you admire/idolize? how they react, what motivate them, what they love, what they hate, how they speak and behave? that way theyre believable because theyre based on someone real