Writing From The Opposite Gender’s Point Of View

There have been quite a few people whom I’ve spoken to about writing, either writers or non-writers, who have asked me if I find it difficult to write from the male perspective as a main character. My answer is always no and they seem surprised at this.

There are a lot of authors who do write from the point of view of the opposite sex, so I find it interesting when speaking with other writers that some of them do find it a challenge and wonder how I’m able to do it. A lot of people describe me as very “feminine” or “girly”, but that’s just what they’re seeing on the outside. On the inside, I’m much more “gritty” and I feel almost genderless.

My answer to them is pretty simple: We’re all just people. I’m not silly enough to claim that there is no difference between men and women, but I do believe that there are differences within each gender that are greater because of personality types, different cultures, opposing ideals, etc. I’m probably more different, on some levels, than many other women than I am from a lot of men.

I guess that the best way to simplify my point to this post is that I relate best to those who are damaged in some way, but who are also idealists and enjoy talking/thinking about random, commonly viewed “useless” topics. This personality type can be difficult to find in real life, no matter which gender you are looking at, but they’re easy for me to write about.

It would be very challenging for me, at this point in my life, to write about a 40-something family woman with a glamorous career. I’d probably throw her into some sort of thriller scenario that would challenge her privileged sanity, but I still don’t think I’d get her down right. Not yet. The same would go for a man with a totally different persona from me, such as a sociopath business tycoon who likes to kill those who won’t close a business deal with him. But I’d like to get there one day maybe.

Right now, I’m all about writing for the under dogs, the near-suicidal wrecks or the bullied, traumatized young people who are trying to do the right thing and keep going. But I do want to be at the level where I’m open-minded enough to take any random character and be able to write them believably.

When writing as a dark, brooding male character, I can imagine that I am him as easily as I can imagine myself. I put on a different hat, as any writer does when they write about any character, and I become him as I’m writing.

So, this is my long, somewhat off-the-beaten-path answer to the writing in another gender question. I really don’t think we are all that different from one another – men and women, I mean. If we are different, it’s probably more of a personality/culture/socio-economic thing than a gender thing. That’s my belief, anyway.

In conclusion, I would say that as writers, it’s most important that we keep writing about what we’re passionate about. It’s good to challenge ourselves, of course, but write what you love, and if you love writing in one gender more than the other, stick with it! Don’t feel bad if you’re not into writing about someone of the opposite sex as the main character, but don’t rule it out either.

Do you find it difficult or easy to write in a different gender? Do you tend to stick with a certain theme for your characters? Be heard. 🙂

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16 thoughts on “Writing From The Opposite Gender’s Point Of View

  1. As a man, I probably handle male characters better than female characters. However, I have been commented on about the sensitivity with which I have written from a woman’s view, which I felt was high praise indeed. Your article set me wondering, and I have done a quick research into several of my favourite authors, a tentative conclusion being that author A should stick to male views, author B should stick to female views, and author C can do what he (or she) likes with either sex. At its best, it is impossible to tell from the text whether the author is a man or a woman. This is a personal view, and I’m sure not everyone would agree, but perhaps that is also a reflection of individual character.

    1. That’s true, isn’t it? How you cannot tell if an author is a male or a female when their writing is excellent and they portray the characters realistically (Which may often be different than what we perceive). That’s cool you’re better with writing male characters, but it must feel good that your readers believe your female characters.

      I really appreciate your thoughts!

      – Sara

  2. Great post.

    I write from both gender points of view with near equality, and, like you, I never really feel I’m struggling to find the voice. I almost feel as though the characters are there. Real. They find me. I’m just the vehicle for relating their stories.

    Occasionally, when writing from a female point of view, I’ll get feedback from females. Typically, I do this when I’m exploring an issue or situation foreign to me, as a male. I want to make sure I’ve captured the sense of it right. I’ve get to be told I totally missed it, though there have been times when I’ve made minor changes.

    Ultimately, I agree with you. People are people, period. Gender is merely one aspect, and not as significant as we often make it.

    1. Thank you for your comment! And I am happy you agree that there are less differences between the genders than a lot of people wish to believe. I think it’s great you seek female advice for character issues that are foreign to you. That’s smart. I also feel like the characters are already there, telling their stories through me. In one sense, I think of myself as their oracle. Hm okay maybe that’s getting too weird.

      1. Weird? Not to me.

        Then again, I know my muse’s name. She has her own page on my site. I frequently reference the degree to which Vye was helping me work on a particular story…so I may not be the best judge of ‘weird’.

  3. Difficult to say, as I have not had too much writing experience. I have only started writing a couple of months ago, and I know the pattern tends to involve women more. I guess because of that sense of “connection.” Though when I write, I pretend to be a dog with velvet ears, a bird over the intense black canvas, the sky. But a man, no. I should try! In fact, I might soon. They are not that foreign, as we all have emotions….:)

  4. As a writer I usually write from a girl’s point of view. It’s a lot easier for me since I have 2 sisters (although I finally got a brother in law a few yrs ago.). You’ve inspired me to start writing from a guy’s point of view.

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