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Lauren Cooke Headshot

How We're Written

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Film and writing are two of my favorite things in the world, so it only seemed natural that I would decide to go to college for screenwriting. Because of this, my parents allow me to watch vast amounts of television and movies without question. While watching I pick up on things that I would like to tackle in my writing, and things that I think need major changing. Then I discovered my biggest pet peeve is how women are portrayed.

Once I figured this out, I found a gif set on Tumblr (which focused on Harry Potter characters, of course) that included only females and a quotation from Lori Summers (Tumblr: madlori):

Screw writing 'strong' women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks a**, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who's desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn't need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don't take no sh*t, women who need validation and women who don't care what anybody thinks.

These words really grew on me because I felt all those emotions at some point or another. I don't think I've had a big enough obstacle in my life to be considered a strong person, but I've felt a wide range of emotions in my life so far. I chose to take up a new language one month into my senior year of high school. I sometimes do things only I understand because I want to make sure I am happy and proud of myself. I volunteered for a gay-straight alliance organization this past summer after years of just ignoring bullying if it wasn't directed towards me at school.

There are days that I want an extra person to be there to support me. Then, I'm not ready for a relationship because I'm so unsure about everything at the moment. Every year like clockwork, I break down in my school's bathroom crying about some lost opportunity, bad grade or just stress.

My mom announced this year that I couldn't start any "lively debates" with the conservative kids at my school because she was tired of hearing about the trouble I caused in class from my friends. Now, I just sigh and roll my eyes so much I'm surprised they can still move.

The last time I looked for validation was when I asked for an application at a local clothing store (who had a sign in its window seeking employees). The cashier looked me up and down, and then announced that the sign was incorrect. After that moment, I decided I was going to own my size so no one could ever use it as a weapon against me.

After much researching (one Google search), I found the original post. It was a simple Q & A with Lori and the end of one paragraph (which featured this quotation) stated:

THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN. Women shouldn't be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people. So don't focus on writing characters who are strong. Write characters who are people.

That's when I realized characters don't need to fit a cookie-cutter type. No matter what gender, age etc., a character has to be a person and not a stereotype or only contain a certain characteristic. The realer they are the more one can relate to that character and the plot. A real person has conflicting feelings all the time and contradicts themselves by accident (as much as we hate to admit it), and it's okay because we're all human. We don't know what we want or how we feel. Or we do. Both are fine. But characters everywhere need to do the same to come alive.

I think in this day and age, nothing really exclusively defines you. You are a human being no matter what; you feel all the emotions (sometimes all at once) and don't deserve to be "written a certain way."