Could you pass this test?
Have you heard of the Bechdel test? Recently I read an interesting article in Writer’s Digest by agent Laura Zats about how she applies the Bechdel test to potential future clients. Or future potential clients, as the case may be. The test measures how prominently women are represented in a manuscript, and specifically if women are represented in relationship to each other, as opposed to a relationship with a man. You can only pass this test if your manuscript, or movie (which was where it first came into use):1. has two women in it2. who speak to each other3. about something other than a man. Zats explains, in the article, how she uses this test as a baseline for her requests. “Are your female characters drawn well enough to have their own motivations? If you’re sending five people to space in your sci-fi story, examine why none of them are women. Is it because there couldn’t be any? Are you inadvertently pitting women against each other instead of allowing them to have deep, supportive relationships.” I have to say, I find the whole topic intriguing and feel like I may be slightly ahead of curve on this one, as almost every novel I’ve written has featured strong friendships among women. In my Anne Boleyn novel, which is doing the rounds now, I actually made up a 21st century friend for Anne Boleyn. I’m convinced her life would have taken a different path had she had a woman in her corner. What about you? Do you think this test has merit?