This week, Alida, Kathryn and Robert talk about the Bechdel-Wallace test and gender equality in literature. Do we need to stop and think about our female characters, the roles they play in our stories, how much dialogue they’re given, and what they talk about?




What is the Bechdel-Wallace test and why is it important? Should we know more about it? And are we just products of our culture? How can you apply this test to your fiction? And what is our responsibility as writers and creators to change the worldview around us? Is there a male counterpart to the Bechdel-Wallace test? Should there be? It all comes down to character development, so make sure you are looking at them from all angles!

What we talked about:

What is the Bechdel-Wallace test? (0:25)

Is this something we are familiar with? (2:46)

Are we complacent consumers? Or are we just products of our culture? (3:58)

Is there enough discussion around this topic? (5:44)

Do you notice how many characters are women and their roles as we read? (6:38)

Can a woman character be interesting outside of their relationship with men? (10:03)

Should you apply this test within your fiction? (11:16)

Does this test fall by the wayside of good stories? And should we be more aware of it? (13:22)

What is our responsibility as writers? (16:52)

But can our female characters talk about men? (20:40)

What is the scope of the test? (21:50)

Is there a male counterpart to this test? (23:23)

It all comes down to character development! (24:45)


Things we mentioned:

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
1984 by George Orwell
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

Want more about these topics? Check out:

SWRT 021 Distinct Characters
SWRT 029 Emotional Wounds & Character Arcs
SWRT 34: Developing Your Supporting Characters

Flash Tip: Character Motivation

Have thoughts, questions, other examples? Join the conversation at the Story Works Writers Facebook group

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