Saturday, July 13, 2013

Write Like A Man

I have often pondered why I prefer writing from the male POV. That has to be weird, right? As a woman, shouldn't I feel more comfortable speaking as a woman? Shouldn't I be more versed in what women think and feel?

Although quite girly in real life, for some reason in fiction, I'm a tomboy.

I can write from the female POV, and do in The Charge, which is told from multiple POVs. As a matter of fact, the original draft of the novel that would become The Charge was written from Lena's perspective, the leading lady in the story.

Deciding to change my main character from Lena to Warren was a big decision, namely because it meant re-writing most of the novel. But I also didn't trust that I could master the voice of an 18-year-old guy, especially one like Warren, who is not that much like me. However, I decided to make the change at the suggestion of some astute critique partners.

From a plot perspective, writing the story from Lena's perspective had been a mistake. She's deeply involved in the story, but it's not about her. It's Warren's story, and should be told by him. Honestly, I think I was stuck in the female-focused mentality of the YA/NA genre. I naturally started writing from the female perspective, just because it seemed like the normal thing to do, even though it wasn't right for my story.

When I stated writing the story from Warren's POV, it felt like fireworks erupted in my head. It worked better partly because it made for a better plot, but also his voice flowed so naturally. The prose came to life with color and texture.

My leaning toward the male POV didn't stop with Warren. The exact same thing happened with my next novel (which I hope to publish soon). When planning the story in my head and in outlines, I fully intended to write from the perspective of the main female character. But when I actually sat down to write, the main male character took the helm. I just started writing a scene from his perspective and he tumbled out for a whole novel.  In retrospect, I am very glad I chose him as a MC. He's a deeply flawed character and making him into a likable MC added much more complexity than I would have had otherwise.

Who knows, perhaps I do have some deeply seeded gender issues, but my guess is that something else is going on here. I like writing from the male perspective because the voice is less like mine. When you're attempting to write from the perspective of someone who is not like you, you have to make a more conscious effort to create a strong and consistent voice, which at least in my case, improves the quality of my writing.

In addition, I find it more enjoyable to write as a character unlike myself. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Sharon fan, but I live in my head 24/7. Stepping out of myself adds fire to my writing because it's fresh and different, and I enjoy the challenge. So, at the end of the day, I don't think it's that much about gender. I enjoy writing as someone different from me. 

If you often write from the POV of your own gender, or as characters otherwise similar to you, I challenge you to a few exercises where you write as someone unlike you. If you're like me, hopefully it will help to enhance your voice and add fresh color to your writing.

So, what about you? Do you usually write MCs of the same gender? If so, why do you lean towards one or the other?


  1. Hi Sharon, cool post. Sounds like your MCs are both so complex that there isn't much of a rule about their gender that emerged into your writing?
    I chronicle an epic fantasy world where overall guys tend to figure more prominently than gals, but among the MCs it's about even. And the MC of my current WiP is so female, it's scaring me! Progress is very, very slow- she's everything I don't know. And that's saying a lot.

  2. I don't intentionally lean one way or the other, but in going with whoever tells the story the best, I think it might be skewed on the male side. Just slightly.

  3. Funny . . . I did 18 Things entirely from Olga's POV, and then did Conner's POV just for the prologue in the sequel! I'm doing Nate's POV for the prologue in the 3rd book. I never knew how freeing it was until I did it. I can't write the other books from the male POV b/c it is Olga's story to tell, but I do want to do some short stories with the male POV b/c it was sooo much fun :-)

  4. I have always written from the male POV and find that when I try to write from a female POV, it's not as strong. I'm not sure why that is but I've embraced it and am even now writing male first person, which has made my writing even better. :)

  5. Good to know I'm not the only one. Thanks for the comments!

  6. I found your blog on Inkpageant and had to check this out. Love your post. I like the challenge of trying to write in the male POV. It's fun too! Most of what I've written is from the girls perspective but I've been able to do the male POV in a collab I'm working on and I love it!

  7. Great write-up! Writing is a talent, and it must not be wasted. As with everything that we had been entrusted, we should let it grow and share it with the world.>how do you motivate yourself