Monday, October 18, 2010

Confession Monday

Confession: I'm venturing into uncharted waters (ie. I am writing a story from a male point of view).

I never imagined writing something from a male POV before because, really, what do I know about being in the mind of a man? What does any woman? Isn't that the age old question, "What are they thinking?!"

But then something happened. I got an idea for a YA story... and the main character is a boy. So I tried to change it. I thought of all the ways I could try to work the story around a female character because I had no idea where to start if the character was male but none of my attempts stuck.

I usually have to work hard to put together my characters. I typically know the storyline before I know them fully. For some writers it's the opposite. I suppose that's what I've always found the most difficult to understand: when writers say characters seem to have come to them fully formed. I didn't understand until now. My main character Toby didn't want to change. He wanted to be himself and just WOULD.NOT.CONFORM.

I have to admit knowing this character so well so early on has made it easier to envision the constructs of his relationship with other characters. Sure he'll likely surprise me from time to time as I delve further into the story but when I sat down to write Toby, his distinct voice came out. On top of that, I seemed to know everything about him from his one sibling sister to the fact he's grown six inches in the last year to who his high school crush is and for how long.

I'm excited because I think the characters who are unabashedly themselves are the most refreshing and we often feel like we know them like close friends so that's what I'm hoping I'll be able to achieve when I'm done. But there's still the questions of, "What do I know about being in the mind of guy? And what do I know about being a"

I got thinking about these questions and began to panic. "What do I?" but then I remembered that as writers we've come to know our characters infinitely because we've birthed them, watched them grow from an idea to an identity. Isn't that what fiction writers do anyways, we envision the mindset of someone else? So who cares if that someone else is younger or older, male or female, queen bee or class outcast? If we're true to who the character wants to be then it'll feel genuine and readers will be passionate about them. Or that's what I'm hoping and what advice I'm sticking to. And I have to admit, thus far, I'm really loving this new adventure of sorts.

First person male POV feels less censored to me. My character isn't over analyzing anything, he's just thinking what he's thinking. It also helps that I've somehow roped my husband into being my consultant on this and so I'm often hollering questions from my laptop like, "What are the most popular video games right now?" and he knows like *that.* Talk about quick research!

I should preface that I'm not writing a "boy book" but rather a book with a main character who is a boy. The difference being that this isn't a book just for boys. There's still adventure and romance and self conflict and all of the themes I love equally in books told from a female POV. Author Hannah Moskowitz has done a great post on boy books and how, at least in teen fiction, there aren't enough options for male readers. Moskowitz for those of you unfamiliar with her work is sort of the queen of the male POV as she's written a number of novels with a male protagonist.

For the writers out there, here's a good assignment: take a scene you've written or read from the female POV and re-write/re-envision it from the male POV, trying to be true to the character. This doesn't have to take any more than 10 minutes but it's a fun exercise.

In fact, L.J. Smith is doing just this: after the wildly successful Vampire Diaries (which I admit I have not yet read but I do watch as one of my new fav, addictive treats) she's embarking on Stefan's Diaries, a series of novels told from the male main character's POV. I may have to pick some of these up from the library to compare how Elena sees Stefan and how he sees himself.

For everyone else what's your confession this Monday morning?

1 comment:

  1. I wrote my first male POV a few novels ago. It was so much fun I'm quite addicted to writing from a male MC now. Good luck with it!