re: Girl Writes Boy . . . Bad Idea?

posted 1/3/12

Dear Editor…

I write both non-fiction picture books and boy-centric middle grade novels. I publish the non-fiction under my full name, but should I consider using initials for the novels, since I’m not the same gender as the MC? Will it matter to the reader?

Thank you for your thoughts on this!
Alison

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Dear Alison…

Plenty of ladies write male narratives, and vice versa. Don’t sweat that—not for MG fiction, anyway. Now, if you were a guy writing a female lead in a romance for adult women… but that’s another marketplace altogether. Don’t hide your gender. The protagonist for my 1st person MG novel Big Mouth is a boy, and my very girly name is emblazoned across the cover. If anything, the question “Can a girl write a convincing boy?” is great fodder for discussion when I’m presenting to classes. Many people advocate writing what you don’t know. Just confirm that your character’s sensibility is convincingly male by having some fellas read your manuscript. They’ll let you now if your dude’s choices or judgments are too girly.

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Characterization, Point of View, Teen/Middle Grade Fiction
Comments to "re: Girl Writes Boy . . . Bad Idea?" | Add a Comment
    1. Sue Ford wrote (on 01/03/12 at 10:39 am) :

      I’m so grateful for the guys in my critique group who set me straight when my mc is not guylike! Nothing like having honest guy readers.

      [Reply]

      Allen Gale replied (on 01/03/12 at 2:07 pm) :

      Very good subject, and Sue, you should know that the ladies in my critique group counselled me on my romantic scenes in my sci-fi adventure — they thought I wasn’t romantic enough! It’s crucial that we help each other out any way we can!

      [Reply]

    2. Laura C. wrote (on 01/03/12 at 11:09 am) :

      I only write girl leads in my YA (though I also write guy-POV for the romantic interest), but I have 3 guys in my crit group. I notice they criticize different things than the girs. They’re always impatient for action and aren’t very interested in character-building scenes.
      Yay for girls who can write guy leads!

      [Reply]

    3. Alison Stevens wrote (on 01/03/12 at 12:47 pm) :

      Thank you Deborah! I appreciate the insight. Too bad I don’t have any guys in my critique groups. Fortunately, I’ve got sons. 🙂

      [Reply]

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