Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Opposite Sex

I'm a guy.

I hope this has been properly established. Just in case it hasn't, I'm married to a wonderful woman, I like explosions, football, and bacon. If I can have an exploding football while eating bacon, life is good.

Why then, as a beginning author trying to write a novel, do I have a female main character?

Perhaps it is because I am crazy?

It is actually what the story demanded. That's what popped into my head, and I ran with it.

Still, it is hard enough to come up with a story arc that can hold interest yet believability for 80,000 words. Why complicate things by trying to envision it as the opposite sex?

I know I've messed up in the process. I've had friends critique things as I go along, and I've especially tried to get female perspective on things. My frequent question is "would a woman think/do this?"

Probably the hardest thing I had to deal with is being told my main character, Jenna Dawson, "wasn't likeable." I meant her to be a type A, driven personality who is a bit impulsive and impatient (another challenge, because I'm not a type A person). She's pushing to be an emergency physician, so she has to be strong. The problem became that she was too harsh according to some friends I respect. I've had to work on revising old stuff and watch that in my latest writing.

I would say that's the biggest thing I've had to do - get feedback and be open to the criticism. In a recent writing contest, I submitted my first 15 pages. Thankfully, I received good comments on Jenna as an engaging main character. Hopefully I'm learning!

The interesting thing is, according to the Gender Genie, I'm more of a feminine writer. Mike Duran posted about the difference between male and female writers, and used this fun little web site in his discussion. I don't think the site is very scientific, but it still was interesting to try it out.

Words: 1195
(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female Score: 1478
Male Score: 1407

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!

Should writers be afraid of writing the opposite sex? Well, unless a man is writing about monks or a woman's book is in a nunnery, you're going to have to anyway. We're going to use our imagination anyway, so we need to do our research and be willing to change if our females are too manly, or a male lead is too girly.

In closing, here is some classic teaching on the difference between men's brains and women's brains. Enjoy!

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