Writing Characters of Opposite Genders

I’m pretty sure we’ve all had that experience: We read an author who attempts to write about characters of the opposite gender than theirs and they horribly and often ridiculously fail. Now as a female writer who usually writes from male PoV’s I’ve always been a little paranoid of said failure to convey an authentic male voice. Honestly between the first and the second draft of Light I feel like I’ve improved a lot in this aspect, but I’m sure there is the one or other section that doesn’t come across as entirely authentic (can I get some more male readers to take a look at let’s say the first three chapters, pretty please? Volunteers, just drop me an email and I’ll be more than happy to send you some sample chapters!)

Of course there’s the question of what exactly qualifies as an authentic portrait of a male/female voice.

Personally I’m not a believer in gender-stereotypes and don’t think that they are what define gender. When I’m looking at who some authors fail or accomplish to create a realistic picture of a character obviously not of their own gender I often find that those characteristics are much more subtle than general stereotypes. It definitely isn’t easy to do and as a writer I often find it hard to know if I succeed at giving a realistic image of my male protagonists. The fact that I’m writing about gay/bisexual male protagonists who are occasionally introspective only adds to me trying to write about them in a realistic fashion. Seriously, nothing bugs me more than the fact that many people automatically associate a certain degree of femininity with gay/bisexual men and the other way around with women. Needless to say that I’m pretty much expecting the sexuality of my protagonists to put off some readers, but that’s their karma I suppose 😉

Anyway, I’m curious: What would you say is characteristic for a realistic male/female voice and what experiences did you make writing characters of the opposite gender? Comment away 😀

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