Monday, September 26, 2011

Female Shifters: The Rarest of Beasts

I say rare, but not totally absent, mind. There have been some very good, popular books featuring women who turn into various werecreatures. However, it is my impression this is relatively uncommon.

Why would this be? Why do the dudes get all the shifting fun?

It has occurred to me that the practicality of this is that books are seldom written from the shifter's POV. We writers like to place the book through the eyes of the "normal" character, thereby allowing the reader to experience the story though relate-able eyes. Like the reader, the normal character is thrown into a situation that is outside his or her everyday life, and this makes it easier to reveal the details of the book's world. It also allows for an element of surprise, fear and occasional frailty, which wouldn't be as easy to achieve through the eyes of a powerful shifter.

Similarly, most romance, paranormal-romance or erotic-romances are largely told through the female character's POV. Hence, the predominant use of male shifters, from a practical angle, I think.

However, there is a cultural reason, as well. First, that very frailty authors like to explore are simply more acceptable in a female character. As a society, we are more comfortable with the male being the powerful being, for right or wrong. Often, we are intolerant of fictional males weaker than the females they love, and are less jarred by the reverse, regardless of how well this mirrors reality. Further, there is a psycho-sexual dimension to this - female readers (the target audience) are believed to be drawn to strong males, and not to weaker males. The description of a dark, mysterious male shifter with the power to both love and kill them is meant to tap into the ultimate in alphamale desire.

Hence, the relative scarcity of female shifters, I think.

In writing my new WIP, I have been struggling with these things, and how to balance the needs of the story with the expectations of the audience.

However, I do believe there is room for more female shifters. I am a female, who loves to read romance, and I find the presence of an extremely strong female character quite alluring, especially if there are other factors that balance out the power dynamics between the male and female leads. I will just have to hope there are enough people out there that feel likewise!

So, that is something I've been thinking about lately as I write and read.

***
Please, feel free to comment and suggest female shifter romances below!

4 comments:

Jasmine Aherne said...

I've just had a book published with a female shifter in - Outfoxed. I did it for similar reasons - I've not read hardly any books with female shifters in, and I thought it would be interesting to have a chunk of the book in her POV :)

Anne Holly said...

Great! I'll have to check that one out. Thanks. :)

Ruth Madison said...

Fascinating! I never thought about that. Makes me want to take on the challenge of writing it.

Anne Holly said...

It is a bit of a challenge, but I think it's turning out okay - or at least it would if I had more time to actually write. I'm hoping to finish the draft this weekend. *fingers crossed*

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