Friday, 28 August 2009

What Gender are the Characters that Speak?

Are your lead characters and/or POV characters, same sex as you? Did you choose that particular POV on purpose? When I first started writing, all my leads were females, but I nearly always used to use multiple POV so the writing would be done from both a male and a female POV. Now, to my surprise, more and more of my men are taking over stories. WIP 2 for example, which has a first draft with the woman as the lead is going to be turned into the man's story. He is going to be the MC. I may use multiple POV - not sure yet - but the story will be a man's. What I have found is that for the most part, it makes no difference. I feel that the exercise of getting into a character's head depends on how well you understand that character, regardless of the sex. But what I do find is that for the most part, I am very reluctant to diminish my female's role as the main character. So I find myself wondering if they could both be main characters. It's very tempting, but quite doubtful, because while many stories may have many major characters, there is nearly always, just one main character. It has to be clear, whose story it is.

The psychology behind that reluctance is quite clear. I am a woman. I like strong, female leads. I like strong male leads too, but I suppose with a female lead, it's somehow feeding the inner dream that hey, that could be me in some alternate univerise, kicking ass (alas, in this life, I can only throw verbal punches.) Though I must say that my male taking over the lead in no way diminishes the strength of the female characters. In fact, most of the time, it's because those poor men must suffer so they have more to tell. How do you feel about switching sexes of your main characters? Does it matter to you whether they are male or female? Whoever has the best story to tell, that's my main character. Regardless of their gender.


  1. I think you also have to look at your target audience and the market. My MC was originally a boy, and then I determined it needed to be a girl because my target audience is tween girls. So, I'm happier with it, but I wouldn't have consider switching if I didn't look at specific industry information.

  2. I'm with you. Whoever has the best story to tell, that's who I go with. My character in my current novel is a 50 year old male. It's been a little tricky getting into his head, but once I got to know him as a person, it was natural to tell the story from his POV. I also tell the story from a 40-ish something female, and from her son's POV as well, and he's 25. So there you go. Quite the mixup there. I think it's working so far!

    I recently did a post over on the Literary Lab about using multiple main characters. You should read it if you can, since you talked about that in your post.

    It's right here:

    Using Multiple Main Characters and Story Lines

  3. Tara,
    Yes, considering industry does make sense. In my case, I don't think it should matter much because I write fantasy.

    Lady Glamis,
    I did read that post when you posted it. It was most interesting. And the post did raise some more questions for me regarding my Fantasy wip, but I will do another post about that.

  4. Oh, I'll look forward to that post! Sorry if you commented on there and it was obvious that you read it. I lose track of comments after awhile. Too many blogs!