Here to tell us about how to write in a male point of view is the lovely CJ Harper, UKYA debut author of The Disappeared, published by Simon and Schuster on January 31st.
Writing from a Male Point of View
When I had the very first flashes of inspiration for The Disappeared I didn’t know that the story would have a male protagonist, it just seemed to happen. (In much the same way that third helpings of pudding just seem to happen to me.) It can be tricky writing from the viewpoint of the opposite sex; here are some tips I picked up as I went along.
1. Create a character not an illustration of gender
When my daughter first learnt about the biological differences between boys and girls she went through a stage of being fascinated by reproductive organs. You could tell what sex her stick people were by their prominent genitals. Do not make this pre-schooler mistake. There is more to your character than a penis. Remember that you are aiming to create a believable person not a stereotype.
2. Learn from those who do it well
Read other stories written from a male point of view. Notice what strikes you as realistic and what seems stereotypical or contrived.
3. Look around you
Despite my mother’s best efforts (sending me to an all girls’ school, that stint in the convent, getting me into a women’s prison by framing me for a crime I did not commit) I have still managed to meet a few males in my life and I expect you have too. There are examples of maleness all around you. Observe them.
4. What does being male mean to your character?
Gender is an influence in people’s lives, but some more than others. Think about how gender roles and expectations will affect your character. Does your male aspire to traditional ideas of manliness? Or does not really give a rugby ball? Who are the male influences in his life?
5. What other influencing factors does your character have in his life?
You might want to think about class, upbringing, nationality, schooling, beliefs, or an overbearing grandma who makes him eat third helpings of pudding.
6. Get a second opinion
Get a second opinion. Get a male to read it. Get a different male to read it. Get a female to read it. How convincing do they find your male? They’re unlikely to all agree, but if you find two different people comment on the same thing, then you might want to take a look.
7. Focus on any similarities between you and your male character
You and your protagonist may not be the same gender, but you probably have something in common. I was amazed how easily I slipped into the character of a geeky noodle-armed coward (everyone else was less surprised.) Use the experiences you’ve had that overlap with your main character. Had I known how useful my inability to win a physical fight would be in writing my first book, I might not have bothered with all that biting of people’s ears.
Big thank you to CJ for a really interesting post and S&S for organising the tour. You can read my review of The Disappeared if this has whet your appetite for the book and you can find CJ on Twitter (@cjharperauthor) and Goodreads.