About The Open Book Blog Hops
“Open Book” is a group of writers who get together each week to answer some of the questions that people pose about our work.
Each week they ask the writers to write a blog post on the same topic, and then share their post with each other’s readers.
It’s a great way to get some insights into how different writers attack the same challenges in different ways.
June 10th 2019
"What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?"
This has always been something that I’ve considered to be an interesting question, because my wife and I are both writers, and often use characters of the opposite sex.
In my case, that means writing woman in as realistic a ways as possible, without resorting to stereotypes. And this isn’t as easy as some people make it sound, because it’s so tempting.
Over the course of my writing career I’ve created a number of female characters, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some of them stand up for what they believe in, others step up to protect and help others, or become leaders. Each of them is hopefully someone my readers can not only identify with and maybe look up to, but they also have their faults.
And I think that this really becomes the same challenge as I have when writing male characters: getting into their mindset, and figuring out how they became the person they are.
And That's Where The Difficulty Comes In...
Unlike my female characters, I’ve never been a girl or a woman. I’ve lived with them, been raised by them, watched them grow up, even been bullied by them. But I’ve never been one.
That means I look at the world from a very different viewpoint, and set of experiences. It also means that I have to watch for signs that I’m overdoing things, or falling into stereotypes. Real people rarely fit into easily defined character molds.
And that’s actually the problem, as well as the solution…
Stereotypes almost always come off as fake, and forced, without the showing depth of personality that makes a character easy to relate to.
So How Do I Avoid Stereotyping?
I always try to decide basic personality details first, before I consider if that person is going to be male or female. I look at the role that person is going to play in the story, which can sometimes determine their gender, but more often has no bearing on the matter.
If the character has a significant role, then I really dig into their background, and that’s when their gender really gets nailed down. As soon as I realize that the character needs to be female, or is more likely to be, I run my ideas past a few friends and fellow writers. This gives me a much needed reality check before I even put fingers to keyboard and start putting words on the screen.
Once I have the basic idea vetted, I’ll flesh out the character a little more. Creating a little background detail, adding in personality traits and more helps me flesh out what makes them individuals.
Then the writing starts, and I don’t let anyone read my first couple off drafts. But, once I’m happy that I have the plot and writing where I’m happy to hand it over to others for comment, I start hoping that the character doesn’t fall short of being realistic.
Check Out The Rest Of The Entries
Several authors take part in these weekly blog challenges from the “Open Book” group. So, click the link below to find out how the other writers approached this question.