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Writing as the Opposite Sex

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Paul Whybrow

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The title of this thread isn't meant to imply that any Colonists have pen names which conceal their true gender. Rather, I'm referring to creating the fictional thoughts of a character in the first person, though a second or third person viewpoint could require adopting a different way of expressing their behaviour if they're of the opposite gender.
I've written fifteen short stories and novellas, one novel and about 500 poems and song lyrics. Five of the stories are seen though the eyes of my female protagonist, and there are multiple viewpoints too, including those of women. I try to avoid any of my characters behaving in stereotypical ways that are meant to show their gender - men who can't cook, women who don't know how to top-up the oil of their car engine, that sort of thing. I dislike this hackneyed and sexist shorthand, which is lazy, demeaning and doesn't work anyway.
I think that I've done OK in representing my female characters well, and my beta-readers who are mainly women, have commented that they found them believable. I may have an advantage from my upbringing, which was primarily in female company - sisters, mother, aunts and grandmothers. I've also worked in jobs that are dominated by women - teaching, librarianship and counselling. I have eight close friends, and seven of them are women. From all of this, I may have picked up on female attitudes, strengths, worries and, for want of a catch-all term, traits, better than some male writers.
I can't say that I noticed inhabiting my female character's persona affected me greatly, though it certainly altered novelist Elizabeth Day's writing and behaviour, when she penned a novel, Paradise City, that had an alpha-male as the protagonist.

https://www.the-pool.com/life/life-...ail&utm_term=0_fa8feddc14-1325450cdb-61069721

Have any Colonists had problems in shifting genders while writing?
 

Carol Rose

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I write scenes from both the female and male POV each time I write a book, as romance readers want both the hero's and heroine's POV. If I'm stuck on how a man might react to a situation, or what he might say, I simply ask my husband or the men I know in real life. They know what I write and they're more than happy to help me out with emotions or trains of thought from their POV. :)
 

Katie-Ellen

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My finished novel is written from a man's POV. A beta reader pointed out to me, that though the character is highly observant, she wasn't buying it that he'd just casually notice a that a toilet roll holder was chrome. :rolleyes: Not unless he was gay, she said, which he isn't. As for sex...there's nothing graphic, but he's no monk so it can't be ignored. Interesting.
 

Nicole Wilson

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The main character for almost everything I write is male. Even the one short story I have from the female perspective, it probably sounds a lot like a male (she's training for the military). Me as a person, I generally hang out with, act like, and enjoy similar things to guys, so that just comes through in my writing. I've never had a problem with it. I grew up with a brother and many male friends so I, for the most part, get how they think. Now, there have been several times where I've had to consult my husband and ask what my MC is really thinking, especially when it comes to girls (since I'm hardwired differently and there is no way for me to experience that). But generally I don't have an issue with writing from the male perspective; I actually almost prefer it. :)
 
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Karen Gray

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Well, at present for main character POV I have:
FEMALE:- Mòrag, Ava, Rozzen, Nora, Lailah, Kate, Tara, Sharri, Catrìona, Lydia
MALE:- Brax, Andrew, Randall, John, Raymond, Robin, Aron, Ceò, Rannoch, Hamish, Harry, Anail
And more to add during this book and the next. New POV's for bok 4 are Rozzen, Lailah, Kate, Tara, Lydia, Hamish, Harry and Anail bringing active POV's up to 22.

Right now, I have more male than female. I write as comfortably in a male POV as I do in a female POV, I've never really found any issue with it :)

The first time I wrote a sex scene from the hero's POV I made my poor husband read it. "Is this authentic? Is this what you'd think during sex with this woman? Is this how it would feel for you?" LOL!! ;)
AHAAAA I did this too!
 

Paul Whybrow

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The first time I wrote a sex scene from the hero's POV I made my poor husband read it. "Is this authentic? Is this what you'd think during sex with this woman? Is this how it would feel for you?" LOL!! ;)
That's a deadly difficult question to answer, akin to the dreaded 'does my bum look big in this?', which sends husbands scurrying for the nearest horizon. After spending a year writing a psychological thriller about a serial killer, which was rather depressing, I'm contemplating writing a lighter and farcical story about relationships and dating. I'd like to give a more accurate portrayal of the male viewpoint, which is often more caring and even sentimental than females believe; many men conceal this side of them to conform to what they're expected to be - silly billies!
 

Katie-Ellen

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Not enough is said anywhere about masculine intuition, and there is a style of intuition and communication very particular to men. Finger on button, straight to the chase, not cruel but no prisoners, no emotional wastage. I've seen it in operation, cutting straight through messy, emotionally charged Gordion Knots.
 

Carol Rose

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That's a deadly difficult question to answer, akin to the dreaded 'does my bum look big in this?', which sends husbands scurrying for the nearest horizon. After spending a year writing a psychological thriller about a serial killer, which was rather depressing, I'm contemplating writing a lighter and farcical story about relationships and dating. I'd like to give a more accurate portrayal of the male viewpoint, which is often more caring and even sentimental than females believe; many men conceal this side of them to conform to what they're expected to be - silly billies!
I basically wanted to make sure I hadn't written something from the hero's POV that sounded totally off - something a guy would never say/think/do. That sort of stuff. And let's face it. What I write isn't going to affect the state of the world, even if I do get it a bit wrong at times. ;)
 

Carol Rose

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Not enough is said anywhere about masculine intuition, and there is a style of intuition and communication very particular to men. Finger on button, straight to the chase, not cruel but no prisoners, no emotional wastage. I've seen it in operation, cutting straight through messy, emotionally charged Gordion Knots.
Yes. Exactly. They don't want to talk endlessly about the feelings or nuances surrounding an issue. They give you a solution and then look at you like you're nuts when you don't smack your forehead and say "That's it. That's the answer. Thanks!"
 

Katie-Ellen

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Heheh.... So they do. Sometimes, they are absolutely right. They can't be wrong all the time...only most of it. :rolleyes: The older I get, the less I find I want to talk about the feelings or the nuances, either; yes, they are there and they count, but they're fabric, not barrier.

Maybe (checks for moustache, tweezers ready to go) I'm turning into a MANNNN:eek:.
 

Paul Whybrow

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Eeek, I'm not trying to start a war between the sexes on the Colony. I'm tempted to have one of the characters in my proposed novel be transitioning from one sex to the other, which would certainly throw open different points of view, as mentioned in this article - http://www.libertyviral.com/is-livi...n-or-woman-a-transgender-tells-hisher-story/#
I avoid writing anything sexist, unless it's to show some flaw in a character, but there's a lot of casual reverse sexism in advertising and even in the routines of supposedly politically correct comedians. I saw a book advertised recently, by Bridget Christie, which is called A Book For Her and which has the tag line beneath the title *And for him, if he can read http://www.bridgetchristie.co.uk/
Imagine the outrage that cover would cause had the book been written by a male comedian, and the disparaging remark was made about women being illiterate...
 

Carol Rose

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Heheh.... So they do. Sometimes, they are absolutely right. They can't be wrong all the time...only most of it. :rolleyes: The older I get, the less I find I want to talk about the feelings or the nuances, either; yes, they are there and they count, but they're fabric, not barrier.

Maybe (checks for moustache, tweezers ready to go) I'm turning into a MANNNN:eek:.
LOL!! I feel the same way, Katie. There comes a time when I'm sick of talking about it. Just fix it already. :)
 
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Meerkat

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I've written several stories from a male POV, but I don't know whether that worked, as these were back in my "not great" days.

However, the novel I'm about to start researching will be written from a male POV.

On the other hand, many people don't think my female characters are believable, as I write them usually based on my own POV, and mine is an odd one. :eek:
 
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Jason Byrne

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I've written several stories from a male POV, but I don't know whether that worked, as these were back in my "not great" days.

However, the novel I'm about to start researching will be written from a male POV.

On the other hand, many people don't think my female characters are believable, as I write them usually based on my own POV, and mine is an odd one. :eek:
Likewise, Meerkat, the last time I used female POV characters, my writing was at a level I would now classify as "barely salvageable and downright embarrassing." Since then, I've worked on eight projects, which just happened to be third person limited and call for a male main character and female supporting character. I've had great feedback on the dialogue and motivations of my female characters, but haven't tried my have at going into their heads. It would be worthwhile to discover whether I've improved in that regard.
 

Emurelda

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I've written several stories from a male POV, but I don't know whether that worked, as these were back in my "not great" days.

However, the novel I'm about to start researching will be written from a male POV.

On the other hand, many people don't think my female characters are believable, as I write them usually based on my own POV, and mine is an odd one. :eek:

I relate with this. Oddballs r us ;)
 

Paul Whybrow

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To add to the thread, I came across this article today: https://www.the-pool.com/arts-cultu...-61069717&mc_cid=a65740720f&mc_eid=1273b667cd
This male writer is gay, and has to defend his gender. The only current male writer for romance publisher Mills & Boon uses his wife's name as a pen name. Female publishing can be a closed shop - maybe more sexist than those publishers who specialise in books traditionally read by males.
I'm reminded of a story from the eighties, where the Virago Press were hoodwinked. They were founded in 1973 'dedicated to championing women's talents', as feminist publishers for both contemporary writers and classic novels, including neglected authors. They used to run an award for best first novel and one year it was won for a story about an oppressed Indian wife, based on the writer's own experiences. Nobody at Virago had met the author before the prize-giving, so when a middle-aged white man turned up they were shocked. He'd entered because he reckoned the exclusion of men from the competition was unfair, and just as sexist as the sexism that Virago was fighting. He didn't get the award...
 

Katie-Ellen

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But good for him, anyway. I wouldn't even attempt Virago with my particular male MC. There's an un- PC joke or two in there, ie, true to life, in the banter between male police officers. Don't much fancy Virago, either.

Although they do publish the wonderful and rather wicked-in-a-good-way Margaret Atwood.
 
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