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.
The early versions of my novel, The Charge, were written from the perspective of Lena—the leading lady in the story. Because when writing a YA, your MC has to be a seventeen-year-old girl, or you’re doing it WRONG, right? But some astute critique partners suggested trying Warren as my MC.
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.
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.
This happened to me again with Destruction. When planning the story in my head, I fully intended to write from Amanda’s POV. 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.
In A Taste of Death and Honey, book 3 of The December People Series, I finally re-embrace my feminine side, with Samantha, Amanda, and Emmy telling quite a bit of the story. As The December People Series has progressed, I have found that I really love using multiple POVs, no matter what the gender or age. That’s one of the main reasons I moved away from writing YA. I want the freedom to enter every character’s head and tell all sides of the story.
If you’re stuck, try writing from another POV. Step outside of your own shoes. Even if the scenes you write don’t end up as part of the book, your story will become more complex when you look at it through different eyes.
What about you? Do you mostly write characters of your own gender, or do you change it up?
Sharon Bayliss is the author of the dark wizard family drama, The December People Series. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.