1. carsun1000
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    carsun1000 Active Member

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    Has anyone else tried this?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by carsun1000, May 3, 2016.

    Just wondering if there are writers here who have written from the opposite sex POV. The main character in my WIP is a female congresswoman who tries to navigate her way through a complex world of male sexist colleagues and is having difficulties getting them to understand her opinion on matters of national security.

    Can you as a male writer successfully pen a female character in the first person or vice versa? I can see readers going "oh so, this how we all think?"

    I am trying to be objective by applying my experience with women around me to this character and just want to make sure I wrote a successful and acceptable character.

    What's your take on this? Can one succeed at this? Any pointers from female members of this forum on what to look out for? (this works involves politics, conspiracies, romance, betrayal, and comedy.)
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  2. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    You know how, as long as you can ask yourself if you're sane, you must be?

    As long as you can imagine getting this wrong, you're on the right track. There are no secret ingredients to female cognisance, at least none that are unique to women.
    Ask yourself this, and answer honestly:
    "Would I be beset by the same doubts if writing a man in this situation?"
    If yes, then it's time for research, but about the situation rather than the gender. If no, you're pretty much golden.

    All that said, if a lady picks you up on, for example, characters giving their beasts far too much thought, listen to them.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Don't worry about getting her right as a Woman. You'll never please everyone on that account. Just do the best you can and create a sympathetic, well rounded character who just happens to be a woman using your own observations and instincts. Then give it to a few beta readers for some feedback.
    My male characters probably don't make the grade as true men but since most of them are kooks - I think they fill the bill on that account which is good enough for me. I've used my own observations of men - quite a few kooks, and instincts, and my own humor so I think I do okay.

    Just go for it.
    People say gender doesn't count I don't necessarily agree. But it doesn't need to be an intimidating focus.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  4. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have two female MCs in the current work, and both take their turn as POV: no one character, out of my 12 or so, have exclusive POV, it shifts as the scene shifts.

    Marcia takes POV for the first time while nursing her lover and future husband Antonius from a near-fatal gut wound. For the first time in her life, she asserts herself against other men, those helping to care for him, to take her own role in his care. Later, after his recovery, she takes POV with Antonius to explain why she must learn to fight, to take an active role in the group's defense, and not be left to hide in a cave, not knowing the outcome of the fight, as she was when he was wounded. She takes POV while she is being trained by the other female MC Hina, whom she alternately hates and later loves (anyone going through boot camp knows this response, Hina did not make it easy for her), and again during a fight with her former consort, whom she ultimately kills... indicating that fighting to the death is a LOT harder than just some well-rehearsed martial arts moves.

    I think I would have difficulty describing sex from the female POV in any detail, and I didn't try. All else, with a little coaching from my wife, I didn't have much problem. Marcia evolves from a beaten concubine to a proud, confident and strong woman... though like all proud, confident and strong people, she occasionally has moments of self-doubt, flashbacks and regression.
     
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  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My first novel is dual perspective, one male and female. I'm female but people seemed to like my male character more than the female.

    I would have liked to do dual perspective again for my second novel but for plot reasons it had to be single POV, female.

    Both are third person but that's irrelevant to the question in my opinion.

    My experience from having beta readers and reading forums is that male readers care much more about gender roles and characters behaving gender-"appropriately" than women. (I know that's a vast generalisation and is based on a very small sample.) I think I only had one male beta who didn't bring up gender, but none of the female betas did. The men only seemed concerned with my male characters acting manly enough, not my female characters being feminine enough.

    Although I think my male characters are fine, I can guess where it's coming from. I hate alpha males, both in real life and in romance, so my men are deliberately anti-alpha: at least, in their behaviour if not appearance. I didn't act on any of the gender-related feedback I got.
     
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  6. BruceA
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    BruceA Senior Member Supporter

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    I often write female characters, or if using first person, ambiguous gender. A few years ago I posted a first person dsytonian fiction piece on here. The character was male, but lots of people thought he was female until he said that his wife referred to him as 'husband'. People said that because that came half way through the story it ruined it for them. It took me ages to work out why people thought the character was female, but it was something really simple: the opening scene was set in a production line. My male 'I' handed his work over to a female and so readers assumed that my character was female too (the assumption being that production lines are all male or all female) .

    This was the line:
    I stepped away from the production line, and signaled to Employee 87L000/SP5. She looked puzzled, but took my place without missing a beat.

    After I changed the She at the beginning of the sentence to He people stopped thinking that my 'I' was a woman.

    This experience taught me a lot about how you can influence readers to make assumptions about your characters, not necessarily by the way they act, or the things they say, but in the situations they find themselves in. We are all prejudiced, see the world through a certain lens, depending on where we grew up and when. (this is the post when I was here as BritInFrance: http://www.writingforums.org/threads/this-strange-day-1907-words-previously-in-weekly-short-story-contest.58307/ note I edited the original post to change it from She to He, but you can read the confusion in the comments below)
     
  7. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    In my current WIP and about 47k with 4 MC's a woman still needs to be sighted for longer than two sentences on two occassions. Granted, there is an army on one side and a military organisation on the other.
    I am female but I love my male MC's dearly and I don't find it difficult at all to write them. None of my mostly male Alphas have commented on the fact that I am writing male so I think I am golden :D
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Of course you can. Authors do this all the time. I have stories with viewpoint characters from any sex of gender depending on what I feel makes the character I want.
     
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  9. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    I'm currently writing a story with a 40 something male as the main character. As a 23 year old female that's very different from what I'm used to writing. I have no problem getting into his head and imagining what he mig be feeling or choose to do, etc (I invented him after all!). I do perceive that some of my dialogue might need editing because young women speak to each other differently than middle aged men, and I don't have that many male friends as it is, so it's hard to know what sounds natural. My plan is after ive written my novel to simply have a variety of people give me feedback, especially if I can find some men or men who are close to the protagonist's age/circumstances. I view this as a minor issue however and not something that's going to significantly impact the plot.
     
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  10. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my longest completed story, the POVs are

    Female: 20,000 words
    Male: 15,250
    Female: 12,750
    Male: 8,000
    Male: 7,000

    My horror stories are about 5,000-5,500 words each: one male narrator and two females.
     
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  11. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Many times. A person is a person is a person. It helps to keep gender bits straight when writing the dirty scenes though. :p
     
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  12. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    As a queer person, I write multiple genders that aren't mine. I don't think it's that hard if you can ground yourself in their specific time and place and imagine what experiences they've had related to their gender. Try to think in terms of this specific character's life, not male or female in general. (A congresswoman may have very different attitudes to a farmer or a janitor.)
     
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  13. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Being a decidedly non-alpha male, I find this whole 'manly' thing rather tedious, both in life and in fiction. The pressures to be manly when you're male are insane and just get in the way of having a stress-free life. And the dumbasses men who go for that kind of thing don't know what they're missing when it comes to relationships with women.

    [OP] When I write female characters, I don't worry about feminine vs. masculine traits. I give them the characteristics they need to fulfill their role in the plot.
     
  14. Mocheo Timo
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    Mocheo Timo Active Member

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    I once tried to write a short story with a female MC. I failed miserably - at least in trying to make her seem realistic. I might have been a bit careless though. I've also heard comments about a romantic story like: "look at those details... of course, the writer is a woman!".
    So yeah, women do have a different view than men.
    I'd have a hard time doing a work like yours, which heavily relies on a woman's POV.

    If you feel you can make it go for it though. Great writers are able to overcome such boundaries after all...
     
  15. Dearest Mothership
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    Dearest Mothership Member

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    Part of me thinks that the MC's gender is irrelevant in a first-person work. Unless you're writing something with a calico cat's point of view.
     
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  16. carsun1000
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    carsun1000 Active Member

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    Even when writing a sex scene? There's one in my WIP where my character has a one night stand with a journalist. I am feeling so awkward even thinking about writing that scene. the palpitations, the blushings, the goosebumps, describing the female anatomy, and the actual interaction to include the climax are all expected to be described in the first person. Now I am having difficulties trying to put all that together from a male point of view who's writing a female point of view....
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2016
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  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @carsun1000 get hold of some books (fiction or non-fiction) that describe that from the female point of view.
     
  18. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    You need to read some Erotica. :supergrin: You could try literotica.com, they have quite a bit of amateur stuff there and some of it is not bad. Also they have pretty much what ever flavor you're looking for, from vanilla to what in the hell is this it is good. Kinda like Baskin Robins but with more than 31 flavors. I am sure their are more sites like the one I mentioned, but it may help you with some ideas on how to go about your own writings.

    Good luck and hope it helps. Aslo pack a rain coat.:superlaugh:
    YellowSlicker.jpg
     
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  19. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why is writing from the opposite gender's POV so daunting? Incidentally, John Green is a man. No one seems to have a problem with Fault in Our Stars.

    And I regularly write from a male POV myself.
     
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  20. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    That is not entirely accurate, about the fault in our stars thing. :p Some found it tedious (well the film adaptation). I watched it get torn apart on CinemaSins.

    On the other side of things, I write either gender just fine. And I am a guy, though at this point I feel more like a Ken Doll.:p
     
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  21. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    As a Literotica writer, I should warn that there are some weird misconceptions that spread around the site. For instance (slightly NSFW)
    there's a common assumption that men's sensations of orgasm are focused entirely in the genitals, while women's orgasms begin in the genitals and radiate outwards across the entire body. I asked male and female writers in the forums, and it turns out the sensation of orgasm varies from person to person.
     
  22. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Correct you are madam. :D And as a lonely divorcee have not had one in many a moon. :superlaugh:

    Though I did not know that their was a misconception on the sight about the subject. I hate the fact that they changed the search parameters there. Luckily some of the stuff on there can be found elsewhere. I would have to agree that there is some strange stuff on there as well. But you know what they say: Variety is the spice of life. :D
     
  23. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I'm pretty sure it doesn't change much about your mind. That's the whole thing with feminism, isn't it? Although I think there a few things that are somewhere close to universal differences. Mostly stuff about relationships, friendly and romantic. But I'm pretty sure there's still women who aren't like that. In the same way as I'm really not a very masculine guy. (Woo, fulfilling gay stereotypes!)
     
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  24. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    But that's just the film not being as good as the book. That's not 'writing' and it's not due to Hazel being an unrealistic woman. I know there are criticisms about her being an unrealistic teenager - but that's not a gender :crazy:
     
  25. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well then maybe it wasn't that good of a book either, based upon that which you have alluded. Though that would not surprise me based on the crappy flicks based on crappy books. :supergrin:
     
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