quote:I honestly don't believe that a male or female point of view exists, only a character's PoV. Gender really is ancillary. It's only relevant if the story is trying to make a commentary on cultural differences between men and women.
I don't think the story has to be making it a point to be a commentary for those differences to arise though. While it can be overdone, the place a character fits within their culture certainly informs their choices and their pov. It changes their challenges and how they have to respond to them. This goes for gender, race, class, size, intelligence, etc.
So if the MC's challenge is finding her femininity while still being a strong warrior, then that's a valid challenge. The trick is that she needs to respond to it in a way that is appropriate to the culture she's been brought up in, and what's true to her character. So yes, character first, but I don't think that's necessarily putting a big arrow on it. I also trust Owasm not to do that. He knows what he's doing.
To flip it though. How would this story go differently if the MC were a boy who was never very good at the 'boy stuff'. He always liked art and music and flowers but fighting never interested him. First, would he ever feel that he had to 'find his masculinity'? If the answer is no, then you have a gender informed difference right there. If the answer is yes, I'd like to hear more because it's not a story you hear too often, is it?
But let's take that boy and give him a reason to want to learn to fight. Maybe his family is killed and he wants to get revenge. How is his journey different from the girl who wants to find her femininity? They are both trying to change something about themselves. How are their internal struggles different? How are they the same? What about the external struggles?
See, now you've got me going. These are just questions for thought though. What do you think?
quote:(She's not into breast comparison and its doubtful that she'll ever reach that stage.)
Most women are *never* into this, never reach this stage.
Fourteen year-old girls are notoriously self-conscious about their bodies (though for most 14 year olds, they are starting or through puberty, so whatever body changes have happened already and they're starting to grow comfortable in their skin, some to flaunt their new figures. Exception rather than the rule, though.)
My suggestion is to leave her body out of the narrative, as in the fantasy setting you describe she has much more going on than to worry about whether that tunic and jerkin make her look fat. And digressing into opinions about her looks is one common mistake men writing women make, IMHO.
You're right about leaving the body out of it. But on breast comparison, Owasm was making a joke about an earlier post in the thread where I talked about a male friend of mine who liked to do that when writing his female characters. Maybe he just forgot to put one of these next to it.
Owasm, you mention that in converting your male MC to female you are "putting more vanity into her character" and that the only way she finally reconciles her femininity with being an "action character" is through the help of a man.
Is your character vain? Don't make your MC vain just because she's a girl. Don't make her preoccupied with clothing just because she's a girl. These are gender biases.
Now, if her vanity is a result of her environment and upbringing, by all means work it into the plot. For instance, if in the fantasy world you create beauty is a preferred quality in women over brawn, then it's believable if she becomes concerned with her looks and fears getting scarred in a sword fight.
Or perhaps the social expectations is that she is told time and again that the only way she will ever win the heart of her love interest is by wearing dresses and being prim and proper. So she starts wondering about fashion, comparing herself to the other girls. So while she is an amazing warrior and has the admiration of men, socially she might feel uncouth and an outcast.
This is perfect fodder for YA books - the constant battle between who the character feels they are and what society expects them to be.
So, if you want to write a female MC just make a list of what you want your fictional society to expect from women, then make a list of what your female MC really wants, and then have her rail against the machine.
Please, please, don't suddenly turn your MC into a caricature because you've made her a woman instead of a man. There are plenty of women (such as myself) that barely manage to look in a mirror, and then only because company's coming and we don't want to embarrass our families. Women that prefer hard sci fi to mushy romance and only know what they weigh when they're pregnant and the doctor tells them.
Write a real person, and then see if anything rings false because of gender. (She shouldn't be scratching her balls. ;-) )
It scares me to even weigh in on this subject because at my age I should know better, but this is a writers forum after all, and I'm sure we can all be professional.
This is just an opinion -
Of course, time, place, culture, and religion will effect the status of how a female and male is expected to act on a whole. Especially if the government or society is oppressive and enforces a certain standard of living. Are there emotional differences between the sexes - yes, but that line has grown a lot thinner as women have become bosses and men have stayed home to care for the kids. The days of only men being sexiest pigs and only women the down-trodden are slowly ending,(Excluding third world countries) and I'm not trying to say this in a bad way but as example. Women don't handle the shackles power any better or worse than men, and men don't do any better or worse at caring for the family. Each person, whether male or female has to be measured individually of how they will stand the test of dealing with power and family.
That being said - body, hair, clothing, and physical ability for both genders should be measured by functionality to environment or attracting a mate.
Two classic examples: One gal I use to date said she hated dresses and lingerie, especially thongs, but wore them for sexual encounters. She was a jeans and t-shirt gal. Made perfect sense to me. A guy friend use to always go out clubbing only in suits, even hip-hop clubs. I asked him why when he barely wore one to the office. He said it made him look serious and professional which helped him stand out from the herd. Again it made sense to me. No one cares that much about their looks when they're doing their own thing or just trying to survive, but when the hormones start going, and rutting seasons here, every member of the tribe is going to clean up and pull out their best ceremonial wears, and take part in the mating dance. It's just nature 101.
and before I get yelled at: There are other reason to dress up: work, religion(Church, etc), weddings, funerals, family gathering, and holiday's.
My point being the closer in equality a society shares all its responsibilities between the genders, the more similar in trait they will be. Each individual then equal in environment has to be measured by individual accomplishment, whether in war, work, or family.
Lastly, the slight physical difference in physical strength ratio, and that one gender is an (in) the other an (out) causes a slight difference in how each handles persuasion and threats.
I do feel as a male beginning writer that I have been both fortunate and unfortunate to have known extreme tomboy gals, high society glamor gals, and many in between. All of which were never shy about telling me about everything I was getting wrong about their gender. So I do consider myself an expert at always getting it wrong.
But this is just my 2 cents. Feel free to laugh and discard.
[This message has been edited by walexander (edited October 27, 2010).]
I suppose a wink is better than a smile in the quote. It was meant as a wink...
I do believe that the suggestion that I write out the cultural ranges is highly useful. This is probably an equivalent to a 17th/18th century environment, so there are women in dresses and women in an environment where more tomboyish behavior is accepted.
However, as I stated, she's been a tomboy (two older brothers) and remains in the tomboy environment for most of her adolescence. I don't have any problems with females in short stories, but this discussion has shown that the 'discovery arc' is an important one when crafting such changes in a YA novel.
My next novel (outlined but not written) has a female MC that will confront the opposite problem. She goes from finishing school to having to escape for her life. She has to figure out how to harden up rather than how to soften up. I'll have to sketch the same kind of thing. However in that world, women are expected to be much less independent.
Thanks for enlightening me, Hatrackers.
[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited October 27, 2010).]
quote:Women bond with other people more through communicating, while men bond with others more by doing things together.
I read this and was curious. Among male and female readers, is there a preference as to the ratio of narration vs. dialogue when reading stories? And should female characters possibly talk more than males?
Also, on a side note, I was curious - When a woman is "dumped" for another woman, are self-comparison's more likely?
quote:Among male and female readers, is there a preference as to the ratio of narration vs. dialogue when reading stories?
I would argue that narration vs. dialogue does not equal action vs. communication. You can narrate communication, thoughts, etc. You can show action through dialogue.
Look at sports commentating shows, like Sports Center. Those are grown men, sitting around doing nothing but talking. But they aren't communicating any meaning to one another. It's all about the action. They are bonding through shared recollection of the actions of the game.
My personal preference as a reader is for minimal description (I don't care what color his eyes are, unless it's a plot point!) and a good balance between forward motion (action), and communication and reflection. Male characters who do nothing but grunt and act without any reflection bore me. Female characters who do nothing but emote without getting off their butts and doing anything disgust me.
For reference, I'm a woman who is a rough and tumble tomboy, but I also watch my weight, wear makeup, do my hair, and have a very sharp sense of style if I do say so myself. I like to shop, I like shoes. I also like martial arts and getting scruffy and muddy on the hiking trail. Go figure. Human beings are complex.
quote:Also, on a side note, I was curious - When a woman is "dumped" for another woman, are self-comparison's more likely?
YES! I have been both the girl dumped and the girl who caused the dumping, and in both cases there is *extensive* comparison going on. Some of it is about physical characteristics, but not all. Was she more supportive? Was she less of a nag than me? Or was I too much of a pushover, while she stuck her ground? Is she more fun? Did she put out more? Was I too much of a workaholic? Or did I give up too much of my own life? And the most obsessive line of self-questioning of all: Let's think of every possible thing I could hypothetically have done or been differently! When I've been the cause of the dumping, it's more comparing how I was superior to the original girl, but the same sorts of topics. Fortunately, neither of these situations have happened in years.
[This message has been edited by sojoyful (edited October 27, 2010).]
quote: I don't really buy the interchangeability of genders. Women think differently than men and in the vast majority of cultures, identify significantly as women. This is a YA novel and the biggest part of the market is female, so I'm going to give the readers someone who, as she is nudged along by a god, seeks to find her own identity.
That's why I need to give her a feminine voice. The MC in Graceling is an equivalent character, but she still is dealing with these issues.
Ursula LeGuin has a different audience and has a body of work that gives her the ability to write a neutral character.
Heck, I just want to get a book sold.
I can relate to that last comment. And I also pretty much agree with the rest of it. I can't think of any specifics in literature but on TV there was the mechanic on Firefly, who seemed to fit what you are trying to do. Hmm, maybe a little bit in a series by Mike Reynolds(?) Anyway what I'm trying to say is that there are stories were the tough female warrior learns to dress like a woman and to act more feminine- in whatever culture she is living in. So there is precedent.
There is one thing I think it is important to know about women and men.
Women are attracted to power while men are attracted to looks.
Of course this is over simplification there are over things in play, such as not every guy chooses the prettiest girl he can get, and not every girl chooses the most powerful. Also power can mean many things to women, money, muscles, good looks, intelligence, fame, stature, ect.
quote:Oddly enough, I find myself putting more vanity into her character. She thinks about her hair. She looks at other women and wonders why she isn't wearing a dress and why she doesn't want to wear a dress.
LOL, don't pretend you guys weren't a little vain in high school. Come on, once you hit puberty you started showering without your mom telling you to. You worried about smelling bad, having nice clothes, and fussed with your hair even though you pretended that you didn't care. I know I had brothers.
Maybe most girls do a little more of this than boys, but this isn't just a female thing. It is a teenager thing.
By the way, your character arc sounds good to me. It sounds like a coming of age story. Just get some female beta readers to see if you nailed the POV. Good luck.
[This message has been edited by MAP (edited October 29, 2010).]
You know, I've deleted three starts on answering/adding to this discussion. This is work. Still....
It depends on the woman.
Not enough to be helpfull? OK, is she smart or dumb? Young or old? Gay orNot enough to be helpful? OK, is she smart or dumb? Young or old? Gay or straight? Pretty or ugly? Short or tall? Good childhood or rough time? Faith-holder or rationalist? Educated or ignorant?
I would tend to suggest that once you have established the purpose of the character in the story and know her background/life, then most of the problems of writing from her point of view will disappear.
I wrote from the POV of two women in Prison Of Power (itís free from smashwords) and I have been told by women that they ring true, but what did I do? I wrote about two people, different people. One is a consort (bit on the side with some status) and the other a general who has (and does) lead men into battle. After deciding that they were women I pretty much forgot about it and wrote about what they thought and felt as the situation demanded. People. Different.
Now I am done, because Iím not longer sure what my point is. Women are different from men in their heads Ė they are (in some respects) but some are more different than others.
[This message has been edited by Chris Northern (edited October 29, 2010).]
The hardest part of this equation is - I know some women who are more masculine than guys I know, and some guys who are more feminine than women I know. I don't mean in the sexual sense, but over all demeanor. So to me it's an equation that makes all possibilities possible when dealing with the personalities of genders.
Hmm, another example. Same anthology "Dark and Stormy Knight" .
A story by Rachel Caine, "Even A Rabbit Will Bite".
I strongly suspected the MC was female even though it didn't say for a couple of pages. Maybe it was the writer, or that the MC "shuffled to the kitchen table". I can't really put my finger on the reason but I think it was the whole first two pages. How the MC thought, how she moved etc.. It's first person and that helped I think.