Thoughts on a male protagonist written by female

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abc
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Thoughts on a male protagonist written by female

Post by abc » September 15th, 2017, 3:09 pm

Curious to know if it bothers anyone when a protagonist is different gendered than the writer? If you decide to read the book do you read it with suspicion? I'm thinking more about women writing a male protagonist just because I suspect that gets judged more than the opposite. Perhaps not, but that is my gut feeling. And, do we believe that boys or men "talk" differently than girls and women do. Is the voice that different? I have written two manuscripts with male protagonists and I have had some tell me that my voice didn't sound male enough. What does this mean? It was only a couple of readers out of many readers, but it was curious to me. Of course I tried to write the voice of the character and that character is male, but I don't know if I actively tried to be more "male". Anyway, curious about thoughts on this.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Thoughts on a male protagonist written by female

Post by Nathan Bransford » September 16th, 2017, 12:40 pm

To me it's all in the execution -- I've read some terrific books that were written by women and feature a male protagonist, and you simply lose yourself in the narrative.

When I was an agent especially, I also read ones that missed the mark.

I do think this question goes both ways though. What do you think of men who write a female protagonist?

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abc
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Re: Thoughts on a male protagonist written by female

Post by abc » September 16th, 2017, 3:00 pm

The other way? I don't think I even question it. Trying to come up with some books (google?) but I can't ever recall questioning it--although I have seen some amusing pieces where others have noticed how men tend to write women noticing their own bodies more than they ever really would in life. If that makes sense. I'm being too lazy to go look for an example. Now I'm thinking about Franzen and his women characters (most obviously Patty in Freedom). I think he's a great writer and makes great characters. Probably there is a critical piece out there about Patty's voice, but my own experience was being wrapped up in the character and not feeling concerned about the writer being male. I'd be interested to know if it is harder for a woman to get published if they have a male protagonist vs. the reverse. I'm not saying that is likely true, but I'm curious if there is a hidden bias out there.

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: Thoughts on a male protagonist written by female

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 20th, 2017, 9:54 pm

Agatha Christie is the highest-selling author of all time. Her 80 novels have topped 2 billion sales and are still going strong. I've never heard of anybody criticizing her writing of her most famous protagonist, Hercule Poirot. Likewise J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter. And Rowling more recently managed to pass herself off as a male mystery writer.

I wouldn't worry about your couple of critics. Particularly if they were men and knew you are a woman. Critics praised the 'masculine' writing of SF author James Tiptree JNR until that turned out to be the pseudonym of a woman, Alice B. Sheldon, who was also a CIA agent!

There are probably few woman writers who have not written significant male characters, or vice-versa.

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Re: Thoughts on a male protagonist written by female

Post by bcomet » March 30th, 2018, 5:59 pm

This is a good question.
It shows up for me glaringly when the writer doesn't get, or doesn't like or relate to the opposite sex.

Examples are guys that make women overly sex-oriented or egotistical or women that make men gruff, etc. And, instead of asking the good question, like yours, they just assume they are doing it convincingly. (Also kind of egotistical.) And, these days, thankfully, men and women are more diverse than ever. So yea on that!

But I have read lots of protagonists written by opposite sex writers that are seemless and wonderfully drawn characters.

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Thoughts on a male protagonist written by female

Post by Marihok » August 26th, 2018, 7:28 pm

I actually tend to write female protagonists. Ive rarely written male main characters, and never in a long form story.

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