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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cross-gender first person narrative

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Gannon, Jan 17, 2007.

    On my forum we've recently been discussing and posting regarding the subject of first person narrative but where the main protagonist is of the opposite sex to yourself. Interesting discussion has obviously ensued.

    - How far with the experiment would we go
    - How difficult a task it is to remain credible
    - Notable authors of antiquity and modern times who have written under cross-gender nom de plumes

    I asked the members to produce 500 words so that others could read and critique accordingly. As it were only fair I should engage in the assignment: Please find below my attempt. I have in fairness not been especially brave in terms of the assignment and the charcter Faith as yet has little emotional clout. But I hope that mine and others on my humble site, are but work in progress.

    FAITH

    I withdrew sharply from the mirror, blinking furiously. For the second time that morning I had applied mascara directly to the eye, rather than the intended lashes. I was no beginner and so presumed correctly that it was due to nerves.

    I felt excited; like when you know a first date is going to go well. The hands of the clock I was watching moved quickly; a few more seconds and it would be time. With one quick adjustment of my skirt I was off, meandering through the tables to the door all the while smoothing down my crisp blouse with both hands; the tapping echo of my petite heels an audible manifestation of my quickening pulse.

    Waiting there as I slid the bolt across was my first customer, a well-built man of around 50. He wore a red lumberjack-style jacket, dirty jeans and a couple of days’ stubble. He looked tired. He gave a nod in my direction and removed his cap revealing his lank, mid-length hair before entered the diner. My hand still lingered at the bolt and I gave a small, inaudible laugh as I caught sight of yesterday’s French-polish. My limited money could have been more wisely spent, that I knew, but as to whether it could have been better spent I wasn’t sure.

    I felt his sunken eyes trace the form of my calves as I moved back behind the counter. And I knew they progressed still further. I turned, and then smiled at him as I had been instructed. Taking his order was easy and I relayed it efficiently and succinctly to the chef. I busied myself momentarily with the coffee pot before asking for payment. He dutifully dug his weathered hand into his pocket, past handkerchief and key, to reach a reservoir of coins. I extended my hands in reciprocation to his whereupon some select coins tumbled into the cup that they now resembled. His little finger gently but accurately brushed my hand and he smiled. This had to be Eddie.

    Elaine had warned me about Eddie. ‘Congratulations – You’ve got the job’ she’d said ‘but let me tell you about Eddie’.

    He was still waiting at the counter, head slightly cocked to one side. I had become acutely aware that my blouse was well-fitted and attracted his stare. I blushed. Uneasily I passed my palm over my hair and tucked it coquettishly behind my ear.

    Eddie smiled again and retreated. He sat in the window and reached for a cigarette. The smoke spiralled upward, a blue-grey vortex emanating from the embers. Eddie exhaled in my direction, a heavy-set moustache perched atop his smile.

    I chose to ignore him and again busied myself with the coffee pot, this occasion purposefully. Eddie’s order came through and I took it over, smiling wanly through his inane chatter. Eddie could be troublesome, but I could be icily polite.
     
  2. Flexbile Garphite
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    Flexbile Garphite New Member

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    It's interesting, but unfortunately I still imagine a man telling the story. I don't know if it's your writing style or my bias.

    Also, I apologize, but this sentence bugs me:

    ‘Congratulations – You’ve got the job’ she’d said ‘but let me tell you about Eddie’.

    It should be:

    ‘Congratulations – you’ve got the job,’ she’d said, ‘but let me tell you about Eddie.’
     
  3. HellOnEarth
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    HellOnEarth Banned

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    Rob, you ever cross-dress before? Or have thoughts about crossdressing?
     
  4. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    To reply to your question, no not yet but the night is young. One of the points of what I and others were attemtping was to see whether writing as the opposite sex would ellict worthy literary debate or cause us to crash into some tawdry fantasy. I guess you'd be of the second school of thinking?

    And I apologise Flexbile Garphite for the erronious use of capitals that bugged you so greatly, I promise it shall not happen again.
     
  5. Traci
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    Traci Member

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    This is specific to being a woman but I don't get what you're trying to show here- are her nails in bad shape? Because if they are - i would change yesterday's to "last week's" -our nails don't get THAT bad in one day... if they are new nails.. it could be made a bit clearer before the ending sentence.
    Just a suggestion :)
     
  6. Onoria Westhrop
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    Onoria Westhrop Contributing Member

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    I really don't see why the gender of your protagonist matters so much. I think that the more you focus on "writing the opposite gender" the less likely you are to succeed in doing so. I suppose it ultimately boils down to the question - How different are men and women? I would agree that there are differences, but I think the differences between characters are greater.
    I thought your passages suffered from the deliberateness of it all, a sort of urgent need to indicate that it was a woman.
     
  7. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree whole-heartedly about the piece being deliberate. And it felt forced, as it should have, and this shows. It matters not the gender of any given protagonist, however the exercise was to see if we could create something plausible / credible. A lot of work would have to be done in terms of research and polling if one were to wish to pursue this endeavour and produce some worthwhile output. I believe however this would remove the aspect of fun from the exercise, which should always be the point with writing. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it. A motto for life kids.
     

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