Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Can a female adequately write from a male point of view?

I'm a female, but I know men. I'm married to a man. I was raised by a man. I grew up with little men who grew into big men. I'm raising two little men of my own. Not a day goes by that I don't interact with men.

So does that qualify me to write from a male perspective?

It depends.

Am I creating a female who acts like a man? Or am I creating a man who acts like a man?

What is it that makes a male (or female) POV? Traits. There are traits of men that can be generalized and typified: task oriented, one track minds, talk less, work hard.... you know the traits. They are usually what we laugh at when we're watching a sitcom or movie. But they are true! And using some of them can help create a believable male character. A successful male POV must be male through and through, not just superficially or stereotypically male. Too few stereotypes and you're stuck with a lack-luster pseudo-male that people want to beat up; too many stereotypes and you have a Neanderthal that everyone despises.

Just as you would research for a story on Russia, research your male (or female). Read lots of articles about writing from the opposite POV. Read popular books written with a POV opposite of the author's gender. Practice being in a "male mindset" and writing out of those thoughts (focus on thoughts, not feelings). Write mini-scenes and think through how the situations would be seen from a male or female. Write both. Beware of thinking like a female, but writing on behalf of a man.

In the long run, it might be easier for a female writer to keep her POVs solely female. Yes, easier, safer, less stretching....more boring, less challenging. If you're up it, you can learn to write in any POV. Research, practice, feedback-- all these things will help you to unleash your inner male (female) POV.

More to read about this: 






Julie Daines said...

While I definitely think that females can successfully write novels from a male POV, generally the novels are still geared toward female readers. I think that's really the main difference. (There are always exceptions, especially at the picture book and MG level.)

Also, this is why it's a huge benefit to have both genders represented in your writer's group. Thanks Scott!! My novel is written from a male POV (but for a female readership) and I really appreciated when Scott said, This is not what a guy would be thinking or doing or saying.

Scott said...

Ladies, no matter what your guy tells you, he does not enjoy waiting for you outside a department store dressing room. :)