Protagonist Preferences

I’m wondering if that’s just me, but I personally end up preferring books featuring male protagonists. I had that discussion with a good friend who also writes a while back and she says she just finds it hard to relate to male authors and male protagonists very often, while I don’t really have a problem with either. Honestly, I don’t really care if the author is male or female, but when I went through my bookshelves recently, I realized that most of my favorite books are mixed authors, but mainly feature male protagonists.

As a writer, I also find it much easier to write from a male PoV – both Damian and Ares are male protagonists and even back when I still role-played, I preferred to write male characters.

Not that I’d think it unusual, but I wonder why it’s that we’re biased like that at time. I mean it’s not that there aren’t a bunch of totally awesome female fantasy characters out there (and writers who convey them in an awesome way), it’s just something that happens unintentionally I guess. On the other hand I also read a bunch of male and female authors who utterly fail at giving you a realistic image of protagonists of the opposite sex. Really, reading about horribly whiny and emo characters like in Lackey’s Last Herald Mage or the absolutely perfect and utterly desirable heroine in the Sword of Truth books by Goodkind just make me want to throw the book across the room.

Then again there are books like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga that make me wonder what the obviously female author was thinking when she writes about a totally naive and absolutely dependent female protagonist. Oh I can so totally identify with a character who lives for nothing but her vampire boyfriend and would give anything to be with him forever and ever. Yeah, that’s all the reason I need to believe….not.

Then again there are really cool female characters out there in fantasyland; Jacqueline Carey’s Phedre, Martin’s Cersei (gotta love the villains) etc.

I guess in the end it all depends on personal preference. I tend to write characters who I’d like to read about so I guess that goes hand in hand and gender is secondary and sort of comes along with it. I guess I just really lack any kind of rational explanation here 😉

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3 Responses to “Protagonist Preferences”

  1. otempora42 Says:

    Stumbled across this blog because of elizaw’s World-Building Month.

    I never minded either male or female protaganists, but my friend refuses to read fantasy books that feature a female protaganist. She says that they’re all passive and weak. I couldn’t think of any female protaganists I particularly liked — all of my favorite female characters are either secondary or villains.

    Also, completely agree with you about Twilight. Although I think Edward is almost, if not as, bad as Bella as far as characterization goes.

  2. Alex Moore Says:

    hmmm…good points. Since (as a teacher) I’m interested in what inspires reading, I’ve looked a little into male/female protagonists. It’s said that boys tend to read novels featuring male protagonists while girls will read books with either a female or a male one. Generalizations, of course, are just that.

    As for my own particular reading habits, I prefer a protagonist who is defined more by what he/she is NOT: simpering, illogical, flighty, cowardly, overly emotional, etc. Since it seems many authors pen female protagonists that either fit into this mold or, worse yet, overshoot the other way and slip into Kill Bill caricatures, it’s easier to simply read books featuring male protagonists.

    Even when an author gets it right, it’s not a guaranteed thing. Garth Nix wrote a kick-butt heroine in Sabriel. He turned around and gave us suicidal, mushy Lirael in the sequel.

  3. Nils Says:

    I think most people will want to read about someone they can identify with. I don’t mind reading something with a female protagonist of course but I guess it doesn’t quite relate to me as much. This is just a guess, I am even less of a psychologist than I am a writer.


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