Thursday, July 29, 2010
Dick & Jane
We writers are a versatile bunch when it comes to writing POV's from both genders. I struggled to write a male POV, but my readers tell me I'm pretty good at it. The writing is more succinct.
In my experience, men tend not to overanalyze. They don't talk like girls talk. Women like to talk things over, rehash the event, imagine different outcomes, blah, blah, blah. Sometimes this works well in real life, but not on the page.
Dick: Vroom, vroom! (Plays with car.) Crash! Kerplowy!
Jane: Barbie is the meanest girl. (Playing with three dolls: two Disney princesses talking about Barbie.) She's as mean as Medusa. Medusa has snakes for hair and she turns people into stone, but a warrior cuts off her head. She can't have a prince at the ball. She should go back to dancing.
(Okay, that last one was actually a conversation my daughter had with her dolls today. She's three.)
Now, I know that men can write women quite well. I don't know their secret, but I do know my favorite book on earth is Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Of course, that's all from the POV of Sayuri, a Japanese geisha. It's exquisite.
I hesitate to buy a book from a female POV written by a man.
Hear me out!
I can think of three books off the top of my head where the female protagonist read like a male (but I'll be polite and not ream them here). One novel featured three POV's- two men and one woman- but they all read the same, identical voices and all nonstop sex. And this was in historical fiction!
When I start thinking, "There's no way a woman would do that," there's a problem. It's the same when you're watching a sappy romance in the theatre and think, "A guy would never act like that, no matter how much he loved the girl." That may be how women want guys to act, but that's not reality.
It all comes back to believability. So when I write men I have to ask myself if a guy would really do what I've written. I've nixed several scenes that were too mushy because they didn't fit. It made for a stronger character.
What about you? Are there any books or movies you read that stretched the genders a bit too much? Have you struggled to write the opposite gender's POV?