An Aspiring Writer's Blog Site

Crawling into the Skin of the Opposite Sex


A friend once told me that if you find yourself writing in the voice of a person who is the opposite sex you are, then you are secretly that gender. I don’t know about that, but it certainly has gotten me thinking about writing from the POV of the opposite sex.

For some reason, I have never had much difficulty writing from the POV of a woman. I look back over the years, and I would say about a quarter of my POVs have been women. I don’t know why I have been able to make this transition so easily. I wonder if I should be concerned about my masculinity.

Maybe it’s because of my upbringing. I am the only boy between two sisters. I also had a mother who doted on me. I notice that I am typically more comfortable speaking with women than I am with men. I may just be more comfortable being in the skin of a woman. . . Did I just say that?

Whatever the reason, it helps me with my writing. I’m currently writing about my story’s love interest, Rose. So far, she has been the most intriguing character in the novel. I was curious as to how my writer friends out there handle writing from the POV of the opposite sex. Do you struggle with it? Is it easy? What tips do you have that helps when you write from these POVs? Do you take Melvin Udall’s advice from As Good As it Gets?

WIP Update—No Lie. This month has been the worst. Sickness. Work. More sickness. Kids on vacation. More work. Someone please just take this month and throw it in the trash can. Fortunately, I’m starting to get back in the groove of things. I’m currently reading a book about antebellum women in Charleston and have started a dialogue with a Civil War re-enactor to give me some insights into Civil War era women. Pretty fun stuff actually.




6 responses

  1. I just noticed my blog over there on the blog roll–sweet!
    Anyway, I was a bit concerned that most of my protagonists are men, and that I actually prefer to write from their pov. I explored this a lot, and came to the conclusion that 1) Unfortunately, men seem to be the gender that has more control and freedom of movement in our society, and in the societies of my imaginary worlds, thus making them more proactive as characters and 2) I’ve always gotten along better with men than the women in my real life, and 3) I also happen to work in a male dominated field.
    It sounds like you may have experiences in your life that cause you to favor the point of view of a woman!

    I often worried that my men didn’t come off realistically so I’m going to depend on my beta readers to give me feedback on whether I can pull it off. So far, I’m in good shape. 🙂

    Wishing you happy writing for the month of February!

    January 31, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    • Interesting that you said that men have more freedom. This ability to “act” is something that has made me lean towards men when writing a story, however, at the same time, the inability for women to act and the burden of social pressures has made for some very interesting and complex women characters for me.

      February 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm

  2. I would say I don’t struggle with it, if only because I’ve been too afraid to write about a teenage/adult female. I feel I can write a little girl OK, but I draw the line at entering womanhood. I know it’s something I can’t avoid for much longer though. 🙂

    I figure that when I make the leap, I can consult my wife and she will happily point out where I’ve gone off the rails.

    Anyway, don’t fret too much about your WIP. We all get pulled away to deal with Life. The key is to make sure you always come back to the writing!

    February 2, 2013 at 11:22 am

    • Asking the wife certainly helps. I’ve done that a few times. A little imagination goes a long way too. Also, as strange as it may seem, if you’ve ever played a female character in a video game, you can get a bit of a feel for it too. Looks like I’m back in the saddle again for my WIP, but I see more things on the horizon that’s going to disrupt me again. Its not easy being a part time writer with all these other obligations. Thanks for swinging by Phillip!

      February 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm

  3. I’ve actually found that, although I write from the view of a woman most of the time, I enjoy building relationships with male characters and tend to neglect secondary females. I too have the tendency to be more open and comfortable with men in life and my friendships with them have always infiltrated my “fictional” friendships.

    But I have written a play about two people and I switched the genders of the characters (i.e. “my” character was the man and the other character was the female) after I finished writing it. What I discovered is that men and women can believably think and act in very similar ways, and a man in my situation may very well have felt the pain/happiness/anger that I did. Their emotional makeup comes from the same stuff. I’d recommend experimenting with the genders of characters.

    Also I’m looking forward to reading your novel.

    February 5, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    • Oh. Hi, Meg! I didn’t recognize you at first!

      I really wonder how many people feel comfortable writing in the shoes of the opposite sex and who does not. It would be an interesting survey. I ought to pop one up here, maybe. Should have done that in the first place.

      I’m looking forward to reading my novel too! Thanks for swinging by!

      February 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

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