How to write the OPPOSITE GENDER'S POV

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Long ago I wrote a chapter on how to write male vs. female povs. I've since deleted it because that post was a load of hogwash, and I sincerely apologize for it. *slaps myself with the wet fish* Here's my evolved view.

Question: How do I convincingly write the pov/voice of the other gender?

Answer: YOU'RE ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION.

Okay, so I just create personalities and backstories and randomly assign genders later.

So far none of my readers have noticed.

I strongly believe there is no such thing as a male vs female pov. You have the voice of the person. By saying "that's a convincing female pov!" you're essentially saying that character displays stereotypical female thoughts and behaviors as established by gender roles. You're writing a stereotype, not a person.

The question you should be asking yourself: "Is the voice strong and convincing?"

What's a thought that's inherent to every female? To every male? In a given situation will a female always think X, while the male thinks Y? No. A female can think X, Y, or Z. A male can think X, Y, or Z.

As I see it, there's no such thing as a female voice or a male voice. There's strong voice and weak voice, and that has nothing to do with gender. It has to do with how much personality is revealed through the narration.

For example, here are two of my pov characters:

Character A: You don't got to do this. It's my problem. I can handle it.

Character B: Don't you dare do this! I caused it, so I'll fix it. Stay out of this.

Can you tell their gender? No. They could be of either gender, and I hope you can recall people of either gender (and all the genders in between) saying either of these lines.

But can you tell the difference between personalities? Yes. The first is more stoic and speaks with an even tone. The second is more forceful and demanding.

The only time it would be unconvincing is if the opposite gender writes and emphasizes the stereotype of how they expect a woman to behave: shy, flirty, always talking about hair and boys and wears pretty dresses, is the most beautiful woman in all the land with pale skin and rosy cheeks, is vulnerable and fragile and helpless and needs a big strong man to save her, at which point she will instantly fall in love with him and delicately make love to him.

^THAT is the sign of a male writing a woman poorly. It's unconvincing when you try writing the stereotypes.

For a man asking how to write a female pov, or a female asking how to write a male pov, I say they're thinking about this whole thing backwards. What they're essentially asking is "Can I write the stereotypical man/woman?" Do you see how backwards that is? You want to NOT write the stereotype. Write the reality, and the reality is that gender is a spectrum and anyone of any sex can fall anywhere on that spectrum. Don't write the gender. Write a strong, compelling, multi-faceted personality.

Gender doesn't define personality or voice.


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