Editing, the Second Freak This Time


Since I spruced up the Fabulously Flexible Man’s introduction from my Freakshow creative writing post, I need to do the same for the others. I was the least satisfied with the paragraph on Annie, the Armor-Skinned Woman because I didn’t feel like the paragraph clearly separated her from a regular strong woman. Let’s see if I can better capture her unnaturally tough skin in this post.


Circus strong woman, 1905. Photo from Physical Culturist’s Top Ten Old Time Strongwomen.

They tear into the second tent and into the impenetrable chest of Annie. Instead of comfort from a maternal embrace, they feel the jolt from her brick wall stance and fall into a jumble of limbs. They are jelly fish flailing in her shadow. Her guests stumble to their feet and cower under her gaze.

Though she may have a five o’clock shadow, she’s no bearded woman. The dark glean along her jaw reflects the strength of a steel cross-beam. The silver plates of her bikini sparkle as much as her oiled skin in the light of the iron torches. The oil slicking her muscles may define every contour as well as the next body builder’s, but Annie’s need to protect against corrosive attacks is the main reason she greases up each morning. 

Her guests ogle as she draws a sword and runs it against that could slice through rhino hide. They recoil as she drags it along the taut skin of her bicep. A collective gasp echos as the blade is sliced to ribbonsThey cluster around her bare feet like pencil shavings. They Her guests look eager to stay until she flicks her sledge hammer toward them as if she expects that they, too have, the diamond toughness.

“Don’t go,” she cackles after, “I’ll toughen you up yet!”


 

I like this better than the original paragraph, but now I worry that I’ve not given Annie any feminine qualities. One of the things I liked about the circus strong woman picture I found is that she’s clearly strong but she’s hasn’t been masculized (is that a word?).  Often it seems like female characters can only be tough if the become physically/emotionally like men/ male stereotypes. Annie should be able to have armored skin and be as graceful as a swan, should she so choose. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to write that now, so maybe I’ll revisit this later.

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