I was reading a first person book the other day. It was rather good and made me laugh when I came across a typo over halfway through where someone referred to the main character as ‘she’ instead of ‘he.’ When they said that repeatedly I realized that it had never particularly said ‘he’ before. I’d imagined the first scene as a boy and stuck with it to the point where I figured they’d actually said something about him being male.
Well with that new realization I read it again changing my mind images around a bit—the romantic hints finally made sense!
The experience reminded me of when my sister freaked out because she didn’t want a specific character in my book to betray the others when I told her that he did. After finishing the book she told me that she wouldn’t have cared if I hadn’t told her how cool he was earlier because the book didn’t portray him as in my description to her earlier.
Getting to the point finally; make sure your characters’ characters get into the book--including their gender and general age.
We hear it over and over again; don’t have your character say something s/he wouldn’t say just to have something said. Find a way for your characters to get there without violating themselves.