by Rachel Coker
Rachel Coker is a homeschool student who lives in Virginia with her parents and two sisters. She has a passion for great books and has been surrounded by them all her life. When she is not writing or playing the piano, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Interrupted is her first novel.
Okay, so this is not a new topic. In fact, I am a total copycat right now, because I only started thinking about this topic a few days ago while reading a thought-provoking entry on author Shannon Hale's blog. It's an age-old debate, and one that there really is no correct answer to. The big dilemma in question: Should authors write about boys or girls? Tricky, right?
I guess I can't really give a balanced answer here, because I've only ever written female protagonists, but this debate has really got me thinking. Why have I never created a male main character before? I'm not really sure. To help balance my thoughts on the issue, as well as answer any questions you may have on the strengths and weaknesses of males and females, I've decided to do the one thing I do best: Make a list.
There are a lot of strengths to creating a story from a boy's point of view. In many ways, you really can't go wrong. For starters, pre-teen and teenage guys are going to be one hundred times more likely to pick up and read a book about a boy than they are a girl. You can't find the statistics. It's really hard to market historical romances to teenage males. Virtually impossible. Really the only teenage guys that I know of who have read my book are ones that I know in real life and did it just to get on my good side. Which is great, but it's hardly a good percentage.
Truth be told, if you want to widen the market of your book, make it about a guy. In addition to guys wanting to read about guys, girls don't mind reading about guys either. This is something that's really interesting to me. As a teenage girl, I have absolutely no hesitation picking up a book about a teenage guy and reading it. If it looks good, and semi-interesting, I'll read it. Females don't have the same complexes that guys do about reading books based on the opposite gender. So books with male protagonists appeal to both males and females, which is a huge plus.
Also, you can be much less gushy and romantic if you're writing about a boy. I may not necessarily know from experience, but I don't get the impression that guys are as sentimental as girls. This is very, very appealing to people like me who feel uncomfortable writing romantic scenes. I'll take, "She was really cute and I kind of liked her," over "My heart absolutely melted over the weight of his gaze" any day. But that's just me.
Ah, but what about the lure of the ever-appealing female protagonist? I'm not going to lie. I love writing about girls. I love it so much that it would be really difficult to switch to male main characters. I might be able to, due to the reasons above, but I still think there are many unique strengths to writing about females.
For example, being a girl makes me relate to girls so much more. As much as I try, I will never fully understand how guys think/work. However I would consider myself a total expert on being a teenage girl. I know what it's like to deal with friends, jealousy, crushes, and siblings and I feel completely comfortable writing from the perspective of someone my age and gender. My guess would be that most of you are in the same boat. And writing about what you know always offers a huge advantage, and that should never be too quickly overlooked.
Girls also seem to be much more willing to express their emotions than boys do. This makes for more powerful and emotionally compelling scenes. While males definitely go through the same heartache and pain that females do, I think women are more vocal and dramatic, which definitely makes for a more addictive read. So some of the things we hate about girls in real life, makes books about them that much more interesting! Make sense?
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