Gender bender! Or not.

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Looking through my notebooks and old stories, I’ve come to a realization.

I’m female both by sex and gender, and quite like being a girl. I just don’t write many female characters.

It’s not even that the percentages are close but slightly off. I’d wager a good 80% of my characters are male.


1). Setting/topic.

I enjoy writing historical fiction; the Royal Navy of Nelson’s era was my first main interest. And even though there were women aboard (wives, passengers and the like), the Brave Woman (or Girl) Who Dresses Up as a Man and Saves the Day bore me. The social hierarchies and ways of life are what really interest me, not throwing a female main character into the mix because it is the Modern Females Rule way.

2). What I Read.

The books I read are male dominated, at least in the main character category. O’Brian, Bruce Alexander, Tolkien…and, of course, the vast number of biographies and other assorted histories I enjoy. Not to mention male authors.

3). My Strong Dislike of Writing Love Stories.

By throwing a female MC into the loop, I’m afraid of turning it into a love story.

Of course, I don’t even know how well I write male characters. Oh well.

5 thoughts on “Gender bender! Or not.

  1. Isn’t it the damnedest thing?

    I think don’t worry about the love angle, though. None of my males and females have relationships with each other, because that’s just not the story I’m telling. Over time their perceptions of one another changes, as one’s does naturally, but I’m not buttering the way to a romantic climax.

    I can totally understand your time making you focus on men. Although who knows, maybe when you’re writing you’ll still take them home or to social events. Women could still have influence in those settings, and still be heroes on other levels. Their constraints might only make their achievements all the more remarkable…


    1. Definitely! As I’m still embroiled in the research end of things, I know I’ll be venturing into the social events realm of things; also, the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) played a key role in the airmen’s lives (definitely kept them alive, since they were the ones who worked with the radar).

      I think I like sharing what I’ve learned a wee bit too much.

      It’s funny, on the going home idea you’ve mentioned. One of the first things I do when I come up with characters is to figure out their family, usually their mothers first. And the mothers rarely make it into the story.

      I also think that part of my problem is that I don’t want characters who are too much like me, at least on the surface.


  2. Hi Beth,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

    And I really wouldn’t worry if you prefer writing from the male POV. There’s a lot of men who prefer writing female characters. Josh Whedon (Buffy) has said he does, for one.

    Write what you’re drawn to. 🙂


  3. Gawd, if I wrote a character like me into the book it would be so boring nobody would ever bother with it! 🙂

    I just finished a post about my antagonist – an historical male character. This is going to cause some difficulties because there are pictures of the guy out there and some background of his life. I’ve got to pretty much adhere to his historical presence, at least in the beginning. But when I twist him up, I’ll have to have very good, believable reasons for the changes in his make-up.

    The protagonist, which will be introduced in my next post is female. But she’s belongs to an aboriginal tribe that is so unlike any found on earth that the focus isn’t only on her but on her family as well. And don’t think of ‘family’ in the sense that we know it here.

    As for your fear that if you wrote a female character she’d end up getting into a love affair with another character, well, there’s all kinds of love that hasn’t been explored. There are people who keep their love for another to themselves, never actually getting physically involved, never acting on their feelings for a multitude of reasons. This doesn’t have to be explained in the story, just hinted at. Again, all kinds of possibilities that won’t take your historical novel down the road of a love story.

    Anyway, just running off. Don’t let your fears of writing female characters cause you to lose a protagonist who might end up being the key to a great novel.

    Good luck, Beth!


    1. Thank you for the advice! I will definitely keep it in mind. Its not so much the potential love affair that unnerves me; its having the story thought of first as a love story.

      I wrote a book where the MC was a lot like me…the first draft is under lock and key, its so terrible and dull.

      Amusingly enough, I came up with a completely out-of-character idea for a novel…a chick lit book with (you guessed it) a female protagonist. I’ve written down the idea and may explore it during the between draft doldrums of this WIP.


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