Ryan Hodge’s Play/Write column: Female Characters


-Ryan J. Hodge

For someone who enjoys a great story, is there anything better than a narrative that engages you from the very start? Imagine a world so rich you can almost smell the scents in the air, a delivery so clever it forces you to think in a way you never thought you would. I’m Ryan J. Hodge, author, and I’d like to talk to you about…Video Games.

Yes, Video Games. Those series of ‘bloops’ and blinking lights that –at least a while ago- society had seemed to convince itself had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. In this article series, I’m going to discuss how Donkey Kong, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and even Candy Crush can change the way we tell stories forever.

What Videogames Teach Us About Writing Female Characters

It is tempting to say that games have made great strides in their portrayal of female characters since the early days of rescuing Pauline, Princess Peach, & Zelda but, in fairness, there has been a wide array of female (or female identifying) characters ranging outside the role of ‘damsel in distress’ since even the 8-Bit era. Some of the most readily identifiable of these include Samus Aran (Metroid), Carmen Sandiego (Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?), Selan (Lufia II), Terra (Final Fantasy VI), and so on.

While inarguably outnumbered by male counterparts (particularly in playable roles), there is still much that games can teach us about writing for female characters.

It is no secret that part of the challenge in writing compelling female characters is to reconcile their character traits with the society in which they exist. There is a temptation to suggest that the best practice for writing a ‘good’ female character is to simply write her as one would a male character and merely replace the pronouns. However not only does this conflate the ‘male’ template as a sort of ‘default’ model, it can also be unnecessarily limiting the character’s scope. Yet, there is an understandable reluctance to dwell over-much on the fact that a character is, indeed, female when the story doesn’t call for it.

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Essay from Tony Glamortramp LeTigre

The Two Day Wonder / Memories of Pirate Mike

by Tony Glamortramp LeTigre

I’ll never forget two thousand eleven,
The year i died and went to heaven!

—A rhyme i made in 2013, the year i briefly shared a squat with Pirate Mike

A few pages in honor of my friend, Michael Clift, whom i knew as Pirate Mike, who was reportedly hit by a car while cycling in Texas recently.

Although we were both involved with Occupy San Francisco, i don’t recall meeting Mike there, but rather at Noisebridge hackerspace in the Mission district. I was taking a nap there one evening on “the hacker stacker”—a DIY bunk bed that was an experiment in officially-sanctioned sleeping for that oft vagrant-plagued space—and overheard this guy i hadn’t met before talking with friends about a marathon bike trek he’d recently completed. Mike crisscrossed the country by bike many times, from what i understand. I felt a kinship with him in that some of the technogentsia loathed people like him and myself for dragging radical politics into their supposedly anarchist hackerspace.

I remember reading a logical analysis of the Marxist materialist dialectic in the Noisebridge library one afternoon, and Mike saw me reading it and said something like, “That’s going to be a head full, that’s a serious read.”1

At one point I decided to emulate Mike & make a cross-country trip, but I decided I would make my trip on foot, squatting and hobo-ing my way from coast to coast. I told this to him, and needless to say he approved. So far, I’ve only talked about it, though. He’s the one who did it—and then some.

One night i led Mike and a couple other Noisebridgers on a walk up into Liberty Hill, one of my favorite walks in the Mission barrio. It was around midnight so polite people were asleep, and i brought us to the yard of a building where i’d crashed and stashed myself a couple times. It offered star-spangled hilltop view of the storybook City with its many lights. We hung out, smoked and joked, then moved on. I showed them other mysteries i’d turned up in my wanderings: the house that always had lights on and was eternally under construction that never seemed to move forward; right next to it, my dream house, which i called The Gatsby House, because i read somewhere that was the style of architecture it was built in; I wasn’t sure how to describe it, except that it looked awesome, it never had any lights on and seemed not to be lived in—yet somehow i could never work up the courage to investigate that place. Not far away, i walked us by another oddity set back from the road, apparently built in the style of a renaissance castle. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike was familiar with all these spots beforehand, since he was quite the explorer. I was a mere neophyte compared to him in some ways. Nonetheless, he seemed pleasantly surprised by some of it, and thanked me for the tour.2

Another night at Noisebridge, i remember Mike preparing to leave for the night with his bike: “All right, i’m going to head off to one of my sleeping spots now.” Someone had vandalized his bike earlier that day at the hackerspace. He had detractors and ugly moments, i’m told, but I never saw them.

I remember Mike doing a live remote Q&A at Noisebridge for the premier of a documentary on the issue of veteran homelessness. Not sure if it was “his,” or if he was just promoting it. It was connected to a live premiere of some prestige in L A.3 As i recall, he was holding it down so well, so eloquent and strong with his answers to the questions that were being asked, that as soon as it was over i went up and complimented him on doing such a good job. An instance of saying the right thing at the proper moment. It made his day a little brighter, i think, so i’m happy about that. It should show up well in my next interlife review with the angels of light.4 Continue reading

Poetry from Joan Beebe


A New Year is something most

People look forward to in anticipation.

The old year for many of us was filled with

Worry and perhaps health problems.

Fresh and new is the perception in our minds.

So a celebration of “on with the new” and “off with the old”

With parties, music, hats, dancing, streamers and watching

The huge and lighted ball, in New York City’s Times Square,

 slowly move down from

It’s height to the bottom which signals the New Year.

It is a happy celebration because we really have

No idea of what the New Year holds for us.

We all wish Peace and Health in the coming year.

Our hopes are held high for a world of safety,

Contentment and harmony between nations.

And our heads are held high as we move forward

Into the New Year.  We see a light into the future

And our dreams have a purpose to be fulfilled.

Poetry from Tony Glamortramp LeTigre

Chromatic Relativity

Red & yellow believe orange is a combination of the two of them
But what does orange believe?

Ghost train

On the tracks of an old railroad i sat
near the warehouse covered in tags
with the missing doorknob through which i spied
a kingdom of mischief i long to tap
(and I will… in good time)

The tracks were grown over—
long out of use, phantom rails
yet as I sat there in the morning sun
leafing through the halfbuilt cities
and frozen fossils of
my raindamaged, dogeared notebook,
I heard, or imagined, a train whistle;
sensed, rather than saw, the train rushing towards me
(In the timeless atemporality of the implicate order,
all timekeeping ceases, all moments
superimposed upon one another like infinite Photoshop layers;
deliquesced in this “forever soup,” we know
what Vonnegut meant about becoming “unstuck in time”)

Considered fleeing, but stayed put

(“TRAIIIIINNNNN!!!!!!!!” yells Gordy, the lagger, in Stand By Me,
the film which, more than any other,
captures the desolation of myself at age twelve),
braced myself for the oncoming
closed my eyes as the roar of train
and warning whistle waxed from stentorian to deafening,
thought “this could be it…”
gripped the rail with my hands…
one split second from impact…
the train crashes through me like a ghost;
I breathe hugely, & let go

Poetry from Sada Malumfashi

I No Fit Wash You
(For Nafeesa Jika)

My pen divulges snapshots:
Colognes of a girl
Buried in swarm of handouts
‘You are beautiful’ I say
But words choke through windpipes
And chew as a ruminant.
‘This course is boring’ I whisper.
I no fit wash you

Fingers browse catalogs of acclaim
My heart wrestles with my tongue to
Resist and arrest whining thoughts
Not to sprinkle too much doses of praise
And adoration.
“Your beauty makes my heart
Catapult and summersault
Pyramids of love in sands
Dunes, hills and mounted valleys
No matter how much I restrain
Your voice augments my heartbeat
With spells of laughter like breached pebbles
Soothing flesh perusing tones
Like fire burning through your throat
Makes infinite pieces of joy
Gush on tarmac of my eyes”
All these asleep on roof of my mouth
I do not say because, true, true
I no fit wash you

This one no be wash
When your laughter departs
Your smiles drift away
My heart is vacant
Like a school theatre
When souls clutching books
Lights dim
Seats lonely
Dust floats
On boards
Embossed with chalks of silence
So I gaze to bottomless pits
Clusters of empyrean full moons
Focused slides under microscopes
To magnify holes I hid
All the wash I dey give
Because here Nafeesa
Is sipping poerty
And the earth is tilting
A little to the right
To contain all her smiles
Broader aboard the left cheek
Caressing her eyelids

My lines click a snapshot:
She teaches me boundaries
Between dem truth and dem wash
But even petals of flowers
Will blush rosy when they hear
Drizzling truths of my heartbeat
To wash na just to make noise

Please do not trust me!
I can write of slim
Flashy eyes
Carved rose of your lashes
Erect dancing tresses
Charming lips
O! You fruit of the valley
Contours of waters of paradise
I no fit wash you

Let me weave and entwine
Halo truths
Of my glitzy poem
Through my burning voice
Forever singing
Cascades of a dazzled
Before you pause me
To say
Na wash I dey wash you

I want to confess
without remorse nor
My slimy treason
But my tongue lolls
And battles my throat
Then my half tooth
Yes! I am guilty
Today I go wash you
In scents of Arabian poetry

The author Sada Malumfashi is a writer living in Kaduna, Nigeria. His works have appeared in The Deepwater Literary Journal, Bombay Review and Jalada Africa. He participated in the Ake Arts and Book Festival Creative Writing Workshop 2015.

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