Friday, October 19, 2007

Men Who Write Women by Robert W. Walker

The question comes up again and again--are there any male authors capable of writing from the female point of view, and the other way around, too....any women who can write from the male

Of course there are. Excellent writers who work for years at honing their craft are in the business of peopling their books with what? Eunuchs? No, characters, and half the planet is
either or with but a few in between by comparison--not that there's anything wrong with the percentage in between. So it behooves any author to THINK like her or his opposite and paint
believable characters, no matter their gender. Every character, large, small, even bit players ought to have their own voice and each must be distinctive; each must walk and act distinctively.

What a character does, how she does it, and what a character says, and how she says it--and with what inflections--defines this character. What a character says and does is who he or she
is, and how we come to discover said character. It's kinda like that in life too. We make assumptons about character out here in the real world based upon the acts and the speech of others. If we see a dog kicked...if we overhear a man berating his wife for some small infraction....we make judgments. We judge who he is by his remarks, his tone, his acts.

Now as to somone decidedly male, such as I, writing from a feminine POV, there is much, much work to do, of course, but it can and has been done. Admittedly, I don't pretend to understand
the female mind, but I can "pretend" to and I can "pretend" to be inside it. In fact, it is easier to get inside that miind than to understand it, and visa-versa. Or is it vice or verse?

Here is the upshot of the whole argument. If you aspire to be the best writer you can be, then you must write from inside ALL the heads of ALL the characters you create in a novel or short
story. We all know that some authors are awkward with this crossing over business, while others are masters at it.

Some argue that a man cannot possibly catch the full, rich inner monologue a woman has with herself on various issues and things affecting her. I totally disagree. If a male author wants to be all that he can be in this man's pen-ary, then he must write to his opposite. Nothing stretches the reach for perfection in characerization than you, whether male or female, writing to your opposite. If white, write a black character or two once in awhile for heaven's sake; if black, go the other way. If straight, do gay; if gay, write a straight character or two. If human, write up a monster and do it from inside the suit--and the brain--of the beast. If alive, write about the dead. If dead, write about the living. If male write female, and if female, write male. Your main character can be your opposite gender. I did it for half the 44 or so novels I have written and published and most of my editors have been female, some of whom I have brought to laughter, tears, dred, and horror while at it.

Do not fear writing about someone or someplace you consider exotic. Jump in and do it. If it feels too deep, climb out, dry off, do some RESEARCH and then jump back in and do it better.
Clive Cussler once complimented me on my handling of female characters and regretted he could not manage them. Critics and editors have given me kudos on my female characters and their arguments and concerns with one another. Plus I've gotten my female characters a big thumbs up from my there! Men can write women, and if I can do it....then you women can challenge yourselves to do the same with male characters. Just climb into the male psyche. I know it is terrifying but how rewarding when your character "gets" it on the page.

Happy Writing --
Rob Walker

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