Friday, May 13, 2016

Writing for, and about, women

As anyone looking at my Amazon author page can see, I am either a man or the ugliest woman ever born. This presents me with somewhat of a dilemma of which most male authors seem to be unaware. That dilemma is all wrapped up in a single fact, a stat if you will. The stat is that 54% of all human beings are female. One could  safely assume that the stat carries over to readers, and therefor 54% of all readers are female. There is nothing shocking in this stat, other than the fact that for generations, both authors and publishers (and for that matter, filmmakers and television executives) seem to have overlooked this fact.

Although it is changing somewhat is recent years, the truth is that many (if not most) fiction is written from a male perspective. It seems even more prevalent in my genre, fantasy fiction. This kind of bugs the shit out of me, if I am being honest. If a majority of readers are female, then the feminine perspective should be more prevalent, not less so. I believe in this, and I believe in showing women in the manner in which I see them every day. That means that I need to have the perspectives of a plethora of women, not a generalization of the perspective of a woman. And herein lies my dilemma: my perspective is inherently male. How do I write compelling female characters that are not generalized?

The answer is a simple one, though I will also admit to sometimes having blinders on which prevent my seeing the mistake. I am surrounded by strong, compelling women. My wife, my mother, my mother-in-law, my daughter and my many friends are inspiration for the women in my books. But, I will sometimes lean toward a male perspective, because it is easier for me to identify with a male character. I found myself being lazy in that approach in writing the second book in the Saga of Mystics series, Faith of Mystics. It just made me mad, because it wasn't by design, it was a lazy approach to my writing. Another author, who I learn from, says something I find very true. I am paraphrasing, but basically he says that we must create value for our readers. It is not a big deal if the story follows more male, or more female characters in one of the books. I really don't think about it. But I need to. I need to create value for all of my readers, and that means having compelling characters of all genders, all races (that make sense within the story), and all walks of life.

I will continue to put every effort into doing this, but I also want to encourage any female readers I have in one thing. Your voice is important. Don't leave it to a man to try to write from your perspective. Put yourself out there, because the world needs to hear you. The world needs your story, your perspective. For myself, I want to hear your story. Not just the story of your life, but the hidden fiction in your heart, from your point of view. That is what creates value for me.

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