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Kung-Fu Hamster
July 29th, 2003, 04:12 AM
Cattiness 101 :)

I've hit a rather difficult spot in one of my writing, and I need a woman's opinion on being catty.

The scene is this: A practical, no-nonsense young man has been cornered by three beautiful, older, and very... territorial women each looking for a trophy.

My problem is that the women are acting more like spoiled cheerleaders than anything else. They just seem rather dull to me. Any advice?

If it helps, here's the scene thus far:




Dalyavent watched the elderly Khememti approach, and saw the thin facade Azaris wore. Before the man spoke, Dalyavent felt someone softly touch his arm.Turning, he found three Khememti women gathered around him. They appeared to be at least ten years older than him, but still had their beauty. Each wore a dazzling array of jewelry and smiles that could melt any man's heart.

“Are you Lord del'Kendris' companion?” A blonde woman in a stunning red gown that left a great deal of cleavage exposed, only to be covered by a large diamond pendant.

“I am his apprentice, yes.” Dalyavent replied.

“Oh, my! That's sound exciting!” Another woman, a bruenette with smoldering brown eyes, said. “What is he instructing you in?”

“I was assigned to be his apprentice by Queen Viaria rai'Zhaktrov, Queen of Anrak, to master his skills of magic.” The Anrak said.

“That is astounding!” The blond woman exclaimed. “I have been studying the mystic arts as well. Perhaps you could give me a lesson in Anrak magic while you are here.”

Before he could respond, the brunette turned and glared at her companion, daggers in her eyes. “Can you think of nothing else, you disgusting trollop?” she hissed. The brunette returned an equally venomous stare and was about to retort, the third woman, another blonde with a thick cascade of curls falling over one shoulder stepped in front of her companions. She turned her clear green eyes up to Dalyavent and smiled.


And I'm stuck.

An8el
July 29th, 2003, 06:52 PM
You can think of the kind of flaming "intellectual sparring" that educated guys debate with, and you'll get much of same wit and name-calling. You can think about the objective of each of the women insulting each other - this will help the dialogue and each woman's objective can be very different.

I don't know the rest of the story which would determine these character's motives, but I'll give you examples. The objective of one of the women could be to get the other to shut up; to show off, to cut out the other person's ability to act or get them to leave the scene, etc. The means the women might use toward these end might be: to suggest something that she knows will hurt the other person's feelings, appeal to or against vanity, insult the other woman's ability to appear sexy or attractive, ability to be believed or discredit them by reinterpreting their apparent actions - thus the handy accusation "Don't know what you'd do with him, since you _____". Here filling in the blank to imply she's gay, has some disease, a female health problem and that's why she can't want sex, etc.

Or two of them might gang up on the third, wanting to manipulate the boy into choosing one or the other of them so the certain other will be left out of a particular suggested activity...and on and on. If you want to escalate this little spat into the level of a cat fight, I've had a girl bend my fingers back to leave me in pain and temporary ineffectuality, but a ripped dress, popped button, smeared makeup or ripped hangnail would be just as upsetting to some women.

So - you don't have to be a woman to think of this style of fighting, just petty and small-minded - which, happily, must be foreign to you!

KATS
July 29th, 2003, 10:03 PM
It’s difficult to answer you question without telling you how to write the scene. Truth is, there are a lot of alternative ways you can write that scene, depending on what you want the reader to get out of that scene. All you give is that the women are wanting him as a trophy. That doesn’t go far to their motives, nor to their characters. If the character is clearly defined in your mind, then that character will be easier to write. It may be that you need to give these women more depth.

For instance, is one or all of these women the kind to give veiled insults (I have some cream that will do wonder for your skin). If so, subtlety is the key. Or are perhaps one is haughty and talks down to the others, explaining the simplest things, implying that they are too stupid to understand without the explanation (An apprentice, dearie, is more than a companion. This young man is to study and learn what Lord del'Kendris' will teach him). Or perhaps one is less schooled in the art and is too obvious, the one with the low cut bodice for instance. She could refer to the pendant, thus drawing attention to her . . . assets. Or any number of other possibilities. Like I said to begin with, it’s going to depend on what you want the scene to convey.

Also, not everything will be conveyed in the dialogue. Glaring daggers might be a bit overdone. A well placed dismissive sigh / gesture or that placating look a mother give her child or even a too sweat smile can sometimes add volumes.

Kimberly
a/k/a KATS

milamber_reborn
July 30th, 2003, 12:43 AM
Read Jordan's WOT. These scenes/characters are his forte.

KatG
July 30th, 2003, 04:11 PM
Is the scene suppose to be completely comic or slightly serious, with the guy somewhat afraid of these women? It's hard to tell from the scene itself.

The first thing that occurred to me is that they'd be grabbing his arm a lot and shoving him around and each other, while trading insults and warnings to the others to back off. You seem to have the first two women facing off and the third one sneaks in and tries to lure the guy away from them. You can imagine what the other two might do once they notice the prize is getting away.

However, you complained about the cheerleading aspect of the scene and if you go very farcical, with much shoving and insults, that aspect is probably going to increase. Women can be catty to each other while being quite subtle about it and the signs of tension in the three women could be slight -- tightening of the mouth, narrowing of the eyes, and such, rather than looks that shoot daggers and screaming and yelling. Perhaps there are special protocols in their society for competing for a trophy guy that they have to follow. In that way, they might be a lot scarier, if they are competing while purring like cats and smiling sweetly, as you have the one woman do.

If you have a better idea of who the women are, then you may be better able to figure out what you want to do with them, even if you are a guy. If not, go ask your sisters. :)

An8el
August 3rd, 2003, 05:07 AM
He doesn't have sisters. If he did, he wouldn't need us, right?

Kung-Fu Hamster
August 5th, 2003, 02:00 AM
Originally posted by An8el
So - you don't have to be a woman to think of this style of fighting, just petty and small-minded - which, happily, must be foreign to you!

Yes, you're right. I've never had three beautiful women corner me and fight over who gets to take me home. Thanks for reminding me; I think I'll go over to the corner there and cry while curled in a fetal position for a few hours. :)

Anyway, after getting a great deal of input, I've rewritten and finished the scene. For a bit of context, this scene served two purposes:

1. Comedy. The story's been a bit grim, so I thought I'd lighten the mood a bit.
2. Foreshadowing. Two of the charachters will become more prominent down the road, so I thought I'd introduce them.

And now, without further ado, here is the second draft:

---

Dalyavent watched the elderly Khememti approach, and saw the thin facade Azaris wore. Before the man spoke, Dalyavent felt someone softly touch his arm.Turning, he found three Khememti women gathered around him. They appeared to be at least ten years older than him, but still had their beauty. Each wore a dazzling array of jewelry and smiles that could melt any man's heart.

“Are you Lord del'Kendris' companion?” A blonde woman in a stunning red gown that left a great deal of cleavage exposed, only to be covered by a large diamond pendant.

“I am his apprentice, yes.” Dalyavent replied. “And you are...?”

“Lady Siris Delsero.” She replied. “It is a pleasure to meet you. Tell me, what exactly are you learning from Lord del'Kendris?” As she spoke, her fingers slowly went up and down his arm, weaving in and out of the dark fur.

“I was instructed to learn the arcane arts from Azaris del'Kendris by Viaria rai'Zhaktrov, Queen of Anrak.” He answered. “Are you knowledgeable in the workings of magic?”

“I know a small number of tricks.” Lady Delsero replied. “I was given this pendant here by an old friend of mine. He claimed that it had some powers to it, though I haven't yet discovered what it is. Perhaps you could offer some... insight.” She then smiled, a dazzling smile that left Dalyavent's mouth dry as she leaned forward ever so slightly, bringing the pendant into view.

Before the young Anrak could respond, a brunette standing to one side, stepped in front of the curious blonde. “Leave the poor boy alone, Siris. He is merely an apprentice. I seriously doubt that he knows enough to tell you anything about your little... trinkets.” Turning from her companion, she turned her melting green eyes towards the group's prey. “I do apologize for my forwardness. Siris tends to be a bit more forward than most women of her station.”

“No harm was done.” Dalyavent said as Siris fell back slightly. He didn't notice the sharp look aimed at the back of the intruder's head, as he was idly noting that the brunette's dress was not as low-cut as Siris', but clung to her lush frame much more closely.

“I am Lady Ryndra Ardnay. I must say, I am rather pleased to finally meet one of the famed Northlanders. My father spoke very highly of your people while he was a Tradesman.” Ryndra said.

“What did your father trade in?” Dalyavent asked in curiousity.

“He made his fortunes in Anrak steel and furs from a... tektok... I believe.”

“And wasted it in cheap wine and dice.” Siris muttered under her breath. Ryndra's visage darkened for a moment, then returned to normal. “Is your father a merchant, perhaps?”

“My father is Chieftain of Clan Travaskysk and sits on the Iron Council to Queen Viaria.” Dalyavent answered somewhat defensively.

“Oh, my! I am truly sorry! I didn't mean to--” Before Ryndra could finish her sentence, a servant touched her arm. As she turned to speak with him, another woman, a blonde with a long cascade of curls, carefuly nudged her way to the front. “I am Lady Denosa Torrad, an old... acquaintance of Lord del'Kendris.” Dalyavent nodded in greeting.

“I am sorry if our behavior has confused you in any way. I am sure that this may seem a bit odd to you.” Denosa said. “I have always had an interest in your culture and history. It has fascinated me since I was a girl.”

“Do you speak our language?” He asked curiously.

“Not well, I'm afraid.” Denosa said in heavily accented Anrak, made even harder to understand through a delightful laugh.

“You speak well.” Dalyavent said encouragingly. “Truth be told, I am glad to hear a normal tongue in this land. Listening to people chatter on like birds is tiring.”

“I... can imagine so.” Denosa said, her voice faltering slightly.

Just as Denosa was about to speak, Ryndra turned away from the servant and focused on her newest adversary. “Thank you for not leaving my newfound acquaintance alone, dear.” She said in a rather haughty tone. “And do be sure to speak to me later tonight. I have a cream that would do wonders for your eyes.”

And with that, she turned her attention to Dalyavent. “Now, where were we?” She asked in a seductive whisper, running her fingers over the side of Dalyavent's face. She stopped at the three faint scars on his cheek. “Oh, my! What happened here?” She asked.

“I earned this scar fighting the cat-people in Cafrawn.” Dalyavent answered, somewhat dazed. Ryndra's perfume, her eyes, and the delicate touch of her hands were intoxicating.

She laughed, a rich, throaty sound that only brought the unprepared Anrak deeper into the noblewoman's spell. “Well, now, that sounds exciting. Perhaps you could regale me with tales from your adventerous life.”

Dalyavent felt someone tap his shoulder. “Ah, there you are, lad.” A masculine voice said.

“Hm?” Dalyavent asked in confusion, still enraptured by the melodious voice of Lady Ardnay.

He was suddenly jerked out of his reviere by the voice behind him when the hand that tapped his shoulder firmly grasped him and spun him around. The lovely countenance of Ryndra was replaced by Azaris. “There you are! I have been looking for you. It's time to meet the ambassador.” Looking to the three ladies, he bowed slightly. “Ladies. I'm afraid it's time for us to take our leave.”

“Of course, Lord del'Kendris.” Ryndra said, curtsying.

“I hope we shall meet again, Dalyavent rai'Travaskysk.” Siris said, waving.

“Do you know who they were?” Azaris whispered under his breath. His lips were upturned slightly in a small grin.

“Three Khementi noblewomen.” Dalyavent replied, somewher irritated at being so rudely interrupted.

“Not quite.” Azaris said, laughing softly. “Any one of those three women could givve a man an education that only comes along once in a lifetime. More than one, if you're me. Now come along. It's time to speak with the ambassador.”

---

Better? Worse? Same?

KatG
August 5th, 2003, 01:22 PM
Better. I was now actually able to distinguish between the three ladies, and their dialogue gave a lot more information than it did before. The sniping was a bit more subtle and believable and the lines of tension between the three more interesting.

However, we may have to bludgeon you for the line: "They were ten years older than he, but still had their beauty." :)

Kung-Fu Hamster
August 5th, 2003, 02:57 PM
Originally posted by KatG
However, we may have to bludgeon you for the line: "They were ten years older than he, but still had their beauty." :)

And just why is that? I've seen some damn good looking soccer moms in my day! (One of the benefits of working in a store located in one of the rich parts of town.)

An8el
August 5th, 2003, 04:18 PM
Hey, if you haven't had older women fight over how charming you are, you haven't been standing in the right place and paying attention enough to flirt with them! Older women love to be called "miss."

I like it also. If I was clueless or dazzled guy, I might not notice their subtle cuts to each other, so that whole passage was quite artfully understated. Wouldn't Ryndra be apolgizing for Siris' forwardness, rather than her own? Also thought you could have made it more plain that Denosa changed languages to appear more intimate with him, because I missed that on the first pass. Good move, but I'm not sure that Denosa would leave so easily - I imagine she'd still continue with their private conversation in the other language, even when interrupted.

Maybe KatG's protest is about the idea is that you can't really tell how old a woman is, when she looks younger than she really is. Or at least, that's what women who are older like to imagine.

Also, it always strikes me, how all the movie stars have perfect teeth, whereas the mark of the teeth of many poor and those of a forgone eras would be many dental problems. So, well, maybe you should substitute..."one appeared younger, but the two others had ageless beauty, and all their teeth?" :D

I think it's an opportunity for another jibe from one woman to another - because the first thing any guy that I know would do is decide which one of the beauties is young enough to flirt with.