1. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Is it bad people think my character is a girl?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Youniquee, Jul 13, 2012.

    According to feedback from my excerpt, a lot of people seem to think my male MC is a female...

    I don't think it's the fact I'm a girl writing a boy, I think it might be the character. He's quite feminine (for valid reasons, of course) and I like that part of his character. Could this be because he's not the 'typical' male? I was thinking that if I added more 'typical male traits' (which he possesses anyway) would make him a more of a convincing male? But then I thought, why should I change how my character acts to fit that criteria? Not every male is the same, right, anyway. But if males themselves don't think he's a male, then am I doing something wrong?

    I'd like to think this is because the excerpt was from chapter 13. I hope people don't go through reading my whole story and think he's a girl :S lol
    Do you think I shouldn't worry? Give me your views on this ^^

    Thanks~
     
  2. SaybleNox
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    SaybleNox Member

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    I'm curious as to how someone would get all the way to chapter 13 in a story, mistaken about the characters gender. Perhaps you can add this small detail early on in the story to avoid the confusion.
     
  3. luckyme
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    luckyme Banned

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    Like the poster before me said, I too have to wonder. Tell me, have you written 12 chapters without a single time referring to the MC as him/his/he or given his name? How else should the reader gotten the impression it's a girl?

    It would be a, excuse the expression, a dense reader who doesn't deduct from "His jaw went slack," just an example, that it's about a male character.
     
  4. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    The fact that it's first person wouldn't even allow me to use 'he' anyway. Unless someone was talking about him.
    No one had seen the previous chapters. They only had chapter 13 to go by :)
    Of course I have xD I don't think in that excerpt his name was mentioned. They said because of how he acts and reacts is why they thought that.
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmmmm, I would need to see it to know if it's a bad thing. Misunderstanding an out-of-context chapter isn't necessarily horrible. If they get that wrong after reading the entire book, maybe there's an issue. But I am sure the character's gender isn't really in question if they read the entire story, so I can't see it being too much of an issue.
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am currently grappling with this exact issue, Youniquee. It is quite dismaying. I had posted on another site for some feedback, and I didn't have an opportunity to put in the character's name in the scene. Everyone assumed he was a woman, even when he referenced his wife. Then people assumed my characters were lesbians. I was very unhappy about this, because although my MC isn't perhaps the most macho of guys, he isn't super feminine (and boy, would he be irritated if he knew people thought he was a lesbian). Some of the changes that were suggested I thought were actually quite stereotypical of men and would have made my MC come off as shallow and kind of a jackass. Most of the men I know don't act the way some of the suggestions indicated I should make my MC act, so maybe most of the men I know are somehow unusually wimpy and not representative of males overall. And then, of course, I got some indications that the wife acted more like a guy, so I can't win.

    I saw also on another forum a post from a man who was writing a story from a woman's perspective. He received a lot of comments that the woman wasn't feminine enough and that her thoughts were too "male." When I read his piece I didn't have that impression at all. I thought the character's thoughts were very much in line with what I might think, and really in line with what any person might think in the situation the character was in. My thought was that people shouldn't worry so much about whether a thought is 'masculine' or 'feminine' but at the same time, the comments I received were from people who do know what they're talking about, so it's not feedback I can easily dismiss.

    I am curious to see what others think on this issue. I assume your piece is on this forum, so I'll take a look and see if I have any thoughts. Sometimes just some minor tweaking might be all it takes to clarify the MC's gender.
     
  7. luckyme
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    luckyme Banned

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    I agree with Show, that it's hard to tell if and what's 'wrong' without reading the part itself. And to address your first person POV, even in first person it is possible to slip in minor details that convey the MC's gender. "As I kiss her, the stubble on my cheek leaves a red mark on her otherwise flawless skin." No more doubt, he's a man. Just an example. But it can be done.
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just read your excerpt, and you do indicate that he's going to be a big brother, and you do give his name, although "Coyan" sounds masculine to me, maybe because people aren't familiar with it they could interpret it either way.
    Here are the things that struck me as to why people might think he's a girl:
    1) You reference texts with someone named Eva. At that age, I think many people think it's more likely that a girl would be talking to a girl. But more than that, I think it's the fact that he's reviewing the texts again. That's probably something a girl would be more likely to do, although since we don't know the nature of the text, if it is something really significant, a boy might do that. But in general, a boy wouldn't place as much emphasis on a conversation with someone -- he'd probably be more likely to delete it to clear up the phone, having already received the message Eva sent him. But again, if the conversation had some great significance, he might not. But since this is an excerpt, we don't know.
    2) He has a cat with him. I know this is stereotypical, but that strikes me as more feminine, especially with the way the cat is described. You could probably tweak this a bit.
    3) He gets a necklace from his dad. I think the word "necklace" throws people -- when I hear "necklace" I assume it's worn by a woman. You might need to change it to something like "amulet." A boy generally would not want to be thought of as wearing a necklace, even if that's what it is. Emphasize the more masculine properties of whatever it is his dad gave him. Reword that or change it.
    4) He cries into his pillow. That is something a boy is really unlikely to do. I think you need to show him fighting the tears more. That he really does not want to cry, and puts his energy into stopping the tears instead of indulging in them.

    Hope this helps.
    Liz
     
  9. cuddles
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    cuddles New Member

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    Since it's an excerpt, I wouldn't worry too much. I personally like characters that blur the traditional gender roles.
     
  10. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I know how you feel completely. I don't know how to take the advice 'Make him more stereotypical' Do people want me to stereotype people or what? >.< Is it so bad to have a character that's slightly different to society norms or whatever...hmm. It's just got to do with what people see as 'masculine' or 'feminine'. /sigh
    Thank you, I really appreciate that.


    It's in the writing workshop if you're interested.
    Okay true, but what if they have no facial hair? Haha.Without that, I would have thought that the character was a girl, possibly.


    1) Really? Boys delete their texts? Just asked my brother and he said no...hm. And I think he's pretty masculine xD. Well, it's a text from his best friend who he misses. I don't see why he wouldn't review them. But then I get why you say that. ^^ I might actually rethink that.
    ...Not where I come from. Here, a lot of girls have close guy friends (So do I) I think this character would more likely to have girls as friends (But he does have his guy friends!) as he has worked in the model industry for a long time. And that's pretty populated with females.

    2) I've thought about this a lot xD. I might even change it to a dog (But I love him having a cat lol). But the reason I addressed it like that is because he's quite close to this cat. I don't have pet but I do know people can get emotionally attached to pets and even see them as family. Addressing Cara as 'the cat' doesn't just show that importance, if you see what I mean :3

    3) Welp! Very true lol. Why did I use necklace? xD. I actually might change it to something else. Hmm...Masculine...properties. What do you mean?

    4) Agreed. This scene was the hardest for me to write anyway. I shall probably change that. Although, I wanted to show that he's not as strong headed as he appears and can easily break down during tough situations.

    This helped a lot! Thank you!


    Same here, exactly why I kind of made Coyan how he is.

    Thank you for the replies so far~
     
  11. simina
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    simina Senior Member

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    Wow, to be honest, I think it's a GOOD thing that your character doesn't abide by all the male stereotypes... the distinction between men and women is so blown out of proportion and, for the most part, it is just a silly societal construct whose rules shouldn't be so strictly followed - in fact, it is my personal opinion that they should be fought AGAINST. "Thinking" isn't gendered, "necklaces" and "cats" aren't gendered. That said, however, it is true that an average reader who has no former knowledge of your character may be led to the impression that your character is female, so that's why it would be best to explicitly show that the character is male early on in the story. But besides that, do not alter the character to become a walking cliche - a man/boy who spits, swears, wears blue, is sex-obsessed etc etc etc - it's dangerous to feed these types of stereotypes! Just write each character as a human being.
     
  12. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    I'd worry if you posted chapter 1 but since it's chapter 13 and people don't usually skip 12 chapters, I wouldn't worry.
     
  13. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    It can be really difficult to write from the perspective of a character whose gender is opposite to your own. Generally I avoid writing female characters first-person for that exact reason. However, just because you're using first-person and obviously don't use any gendered pronouns, there's no excuse not to inform your readers of who your MC is. Does your MC talk to the reader as if they're relaying a story? If so, it's fairly easy to divulge that information there. Also, the MC's name would give that away too, unless you've chosen a deliberately ambiguous first name.

    That said, I remember a book from my childhood where there was a twist that the MC, who everyone assumed was a boy, turned out to be a girl. Something like... Tyke Tyler, the name of it was.
     
  14. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Nothing wrong in your male mc acting like a girl, but I would rather let the readers know he is male up front and that being girlish is just one part of his personality. One of the basics to let the readers connect with your mc is establishing the gender of the mc as soon as possible unless there is a good plot reason. So, i think you should worry if the readers think he is a girl.

    Dialogues with other characters can be a tool to let the readers know the gender of your mc written in his perspective in first person.
     
  15. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    It's not really difficult. Because I'm not writing the gender. I'm writing him as a character. The only thing that's difficult is convincing other people he's a male because he doesn't fit the social norms. It's in present tense so...no. Of course I inform the reader he's male. That would be silly. Infact, his name is even mentioned in the excerpt. As far as I know, Coyan is a male name.


    ~_~ I don't know if I like the term 'acting like a girl'...:\
    Yeah, but people only read an excerpt of chapter 13 and came to this judgement so...then again I shouldn't be, as others have said.
    Yes, for example in the excerpt his mother says to him he's 'going to be a big brother' if that's not enough clues then I don't know what else I'm going to give lol.
     
  16. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    I don't like it either :) It's 1am where i live and am too tired :(
     
  17. luckyme
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    luckyme Banned

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    I've just given you my best help on the chapter you've posted. If you are interested in honest, constructive critique aimed to help you improve on your writing in general and this book in particular, go take a look. If you are only looking to get your ego stroked, don't.
     
  18. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I read your review and I'm going to reply to it later :)
    ...but I just want to say that my character is not 13. He is 16....I never even mentioned his age.
    When did I say I want my ego stroked? :\

    Anyway, thank you for your responses. I'm still interested to hear more viewpoints. :D
     
  19. luckyme
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    luckyme Banned

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    No need to reply to what I offered, do with it what you feel is useful, or disregard it, it was meant well.
    The age was a misunderstanding, but that does not change a lot of what I had to say about the piece, or your writing of it. Being a sixteen year old, if anything would make him only more self-centered, less thinking about what I said a thirteen would be bothered with.

    I'm not assuming you are, here for the stroking of your ego, but I've encountered enough people who were only interested in hearing what was good about their writing and not really interested in improving by hearing what was not quite right. Or even react sour when they are told their writing just isn't good enough. I just wanted to warn you up front that I am not here to be nice. (Even if I am a nice person.) You will not improve by hearing only how good it is, while there are many areas in which to improve on your story and writing in general.)

    By the way, you have chosen the hardest POV to write a story in. First person is almost impossible to do right.
     
  20. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do want to clarify -- I wanted to post what things were there that were probably leading readers to the impression your MC was female. They don't necessarily need to be changed. Obviously, not all boys would delete texts, and there are plenty of boys who have female friends, so that in and of itself isn't dispositive. And of course, there are boys who have pet cats. The thing about the cat is that there was a certain sentimentality to the description, if I remember correctly. Again, a boy could also be very attached to a pet cat. So as far as the cat goes, some very minor tinkering might help this. I think the bigger problems were actually the last 2 issues I mentioned -- the "necklace" and the crying.

    Again, it's not that boys could never cry. It's just that in determining what makes a reader think your character is male or female, this is one area where there are differences. It is a fine line -- you want your character to ring true to people and if he has too many characteristics that are more commonly female, then you're making him a feminine male, which isn't necessarily bad. It's just that you have to decide whether that is what you want to convey. If you don't want him to be an effeminate boy, he himself is probably going to want to mostly conform to what is expected of males. As far as crying goes, that would be more toward not giving into crying, especially into a pillow.
     
  21. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I'd say it's not a problem. When reading a first person excerpt from the 13th chapter of a book, it is not easy to get t know the characters. Often times you can tell when its a man thinking or acting because the voice is generally that of a male author. While most female characters are written by female authors. It's no stereotype, its just the way it is, and in most cases men and women have slightly diffrent voices in 1st person. So for a woman writing a male character its not wrong for him to have feminine tendencies, especially since they will fall in line with your natural thought pattern.
    Altogether, I'm assuming that somewhere in the beginning of chapter 1 you made it clear whether or not the MC is a male through interests, or activity, or dialogue or something that the reader will follow all the way through the rest of the book. It just takes one mention and the image is formed, with no mention the reader is free to wonder about it-- probably making an assumption by the voice of the book or piece.
     
  22. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    What you have said is true. He'll most likely be effected by what society expects him to be, to be honest. This is what I was thinking of before. Hmm. I wouldn't go as far as saying he's effeminate, though. I guess that's my fault for allowing myself to be too lenient with his feminineness. In the second draft, I will probably clear this up.

    Thank you :3
     
  23. inkyliddlefingers
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    inkyliddlefingers Member

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    I think you have to seriously consider your audience. If you are writing for yourself, do so. But if you are looking to publish, then there are perimeters which make it easier to be successful in your endeavour.
    In that case, you want to rethink the very obvious feminine traits.As someone posted, esp at age 16, your protag is more likely to punch his pillow in an effort to restrain the tears, than to cry into it.

    Hope this helps
     
  24. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    That's true. All I know is that my audience is YA. I do want to publish but I'm not gonna make my character some stereotypical guy either.
    Hmm, it kind of depends on the guy though. Some guys sulk, some guys punch something, some guys just stay by themselves and think. But that's given me an idea. I could actually see my MC doing something like that. Didn't really think of that before.
    Thanks for the advice and the idea n_n
     
  25. inkyliddlefingers
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    inkyliddlefingers Member

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    You are very welcome, glad to be of help.
     

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