Saturday, August 05, 2006

Writing Male Protagonists - Yeah. So?

I'm a question behind again!

Writer's Weekly Question #26:
Unless you are writing about a world populated by only men or only women, you have probably dealt with characters of the opposite sex in some form or another. Which sex is easier for you to write for? Explain what makes that sex easy to write for. Also explain what makes the opposite sex more difficult to write for.

Art by SherlockFrom high school onward, I've had a strong tendency to write about male protagonists. I've never been quite sure why. Perhaps it's because I'm old enough to have been raised on mostly male heroes in books, tv and movies. Perhaps it's a way to get out of my skin just a little more completely, and explore the inside of someone else's head. Maybe it's just a statistical anomaly. Perhaps there's no significance to the fact that Jon the telepath, the guy in The Simian, the title characters in "The Disc Jockey" and "Dreamsong," Carli Selevar, Rani Fost, Fabi Stok, Bishop Nicholas and Joshua Wander are all male, with only Cathma and Crel, Black Rose Kate, and now Jace and Sandy to balance things out. And it's not as if those are all fully fleshed out characters who carried their stories, either. I remember almost nothing about who Jon was supposed to be, and never got more than a few pages done on The Simian. The fact is, I can't really answer the question of why I've written more male point of view characters than female ones. I only know that I have.

Am I any good at writing accurate depictions of male sensibilities? How would I know? All my beta readers in the past decade have been female. If you're a male reader of my fiction blog, perhaps you can tell me whether Rani and Del and JW are believably male. All I know is that they're real to me. I know what they say and how to behave, not because they conform to some standard of male or female behavior, but because they act like Rani and Del and JW.

Art by Sherlock

Rani is a special case, of course. One of the many things that make him so intruguing to me is the non-human part of his brain. Heck, if I can write from the pov of a tengrem, how much harder can that of a male human be?

One thing I will say is that I generally don't believe that all guys are like this, and all women are like that. Yes, male and female brains do function differently, and yes, certain kinds of behavior do turn up mostly in one sex of the other. But fiction isn't about stereotypes or sociology. Fiction is stories about particular, individual characters, who try to resolve specific conflicts, and probably learn or change or grow in the process. They may have archetypal qualities, but a mere label of male or female tells us little about these characters. They have to be explored and written about, not tagged.

Which reminds me, I really need to explore Jace and Sandy some more - even if they are female.



Technorati Tags: ,

1 comment:

Becky said...

I read somewhere that men think about sex an average of once every 12 seconds. But, as I recall, none of your male characters have ever given sex a single thought. Hence my suggestion that your book is suited for young adult status. ;-)