It’s a fact of writing.
At some point, we’ll have to write about a character of another gender. Rather than avoid the matter altogether, here are some ideas to keep in mind when developing your characters.
Assess the situation.
More often than not, the situations your characters experience are universal.
These types of circumstances include:
- Mourning the death of a loved one
- Stress over work or school
- Embarrassment over falling in public
Reactions to these situations would not hinder on the person’s gender.
For situations like these ask how you would react. Use this to determine your character’s actions.
Remember their personality.
All people behave differently to their surroundings and circumstances.
Their personality will almost always drive this.
- The person mourning the death of a loved one: if they’re reserved, they may hide their emotions from others.
- The person stressed over school: if they’re an overachiever, they may study more to pacify their stress.
- The person embarrassed over falling in public: if they’re image conscious, they may try to play it cool.
Notice how these traits and reactions can apply to any gender.
For a more authentic character, rely on their personality before you assume anything else. It will keep your characters consistent throughout your writing.
For example, You’re several chapters into a new book about a man and his life in the big city. He is sensitive and soft-spoken throughout until he receives the wrong coffee order. He then lashes out at the barista and those around him. All because the author thought men acted in such a rigid way.
Unless the writer foreshadowed this was part of his personality, it would be confusing to the readers. So do not do the same to yours!
Still not sure if you’re writing your character authentically?
Base the character on someone you know.
Often we write about characters that are similar to people in our lives. A boyfriend, father, sister or best friend. Identify a person in your life whose personality resembles the character in your book when you are unsure of what your character should do next.
Imagine what this real-life person would do instead. It’s an easy way to make a connection that is not only consistent but based on someone that is as authentic as could be.
Gender, although important to our identities is not a defining factor. We all have experiences, preferences and beliefs that shape our actions and insights to the world we live in more than the genders we identify as.