Writing genderbend fiction
I think before you start to read I must emphasise that I see fanfiction as a form of writing that can push one's creativity over the top. Because you already have a kind of plot with supporting canons and many plot holes that you can fill or twist with your own imagination. Therefore, it can be very good and useful start for those want to create a world of their own in their books.
Then how about genderbend?
I think it is a kind of writing that makes authors hesitate at first, not because they cannot write it but because they do not want to miss a character trait or offend someone with misimplementation. As you do not just make a male from female or otherwise only with a physical difference, you change them into a different person that still has a connection with the original one.
So as someone, who wrote a couple of genderbend fanfictions before, I do hope my thoughts and experiences will be a helpful guide for you as well.
What is genderbend?
It is bending of expected gender roles. In other words, you break the stereotypes. Here are some steps that can be helpful to create a genderbend character.
1. Know your character
Before you start to write your character as a male or female, I strongly suggest you review the background of the original/canon character. Forget everything you knew about them, take a step back from the scene and review everything as if you are a stranger to the character you want to write about. Forget the gender and describe them as if gender never existed. Consider them as a person you wish to meet or know more about and just read as you try to understand them.
Why did he eat breakfast at 10 every morning?
Why does she always turn left?
Those might seem like simple details but can be considered to create a character trait and might open your eyes to the different options, which you might add to your storyline.
2. Decide the timeline
The timeline and the society have a non-negligible effect on a person – both male and female – and it is something that has to be taken into consideration while writing a genderbend fanfiction. Because as much as we talk about equality, we all know the past, present and future are different and viewed equality differently.
For example, people born between 1977 – 1994 are known as Generation Y, who are much more racially and ethnically diverse. They grew up with computers and internet, which also helped them to be a bit more global compared to their (grand)parents. If you write a character from that timeline, you can write clash of ideas between them and elders or how the diversity affected their daily life.
Or if you write a character that lived during 1920 – 1940, you can mention war and its effects on both society and the person.
As there is a very clear difference between someone born in 1920 and someone in 1994, even when you talk about equality in your fanfiction, you need to consider the way they viewed the rights men and women share and rights they actually had.
Another thing is that we do hear about lgbtq+ a lot lately, however, it does not mean that it appeared out of nowhere in the 21st century. The term was always there but the way society viewed it changed. So if you are going to write about a lgbtq+ genderbend character, you need to keep the timeline in mind as well.
Especially if you are writing about female characters, keep in mind that in the past most of the girls were forced to marry someone they probably did not even know properly, so talking about sexuality was never easy. As many believed a girl had to have a husband that took care of her and the house, whereas she would stay back to clean the house and look after the children.
So if you're writing a genderbend female character, she might not have the same freedom the canon male character had.
3. Differences between male and female
This, I believe, is the point that made many authors hesitate while writing a genderbend fiction – I was not an exception. Therefore, I decided to make some research and came across different scientific researches that helped me to understand differences and how I can apply that to my character.
Please keep in mind that those are general information and does not apply to everyone. I did not believe in all of them as well. However, as I read the researches, I saw that some traits actually have some sense in them, mainly because of how society tends to raise genders differently.
For example, males can take a risk more than females do, who often think about a situation for a while before they stepped into it. That does not mean females do not take a risk, it just shows that the time period to take action might differ in genders.
Females can be a bit better in verbal communication compared to males. One of the researches made in an elementary school shows that when a math problem is asked, male students solved it faster than females. However, as it was requested from them to explain the problem, male students did not talk much and just solved it, whereas female students explained each step more clearly. So later, when it was told them to not do it verbally and just solve the questions, females became as fast as male students were.
Those are small differences that can be considered in genderbend fictions as well. You can make your character a real risk taker or a really good speaker by either following or breaking stereotypes. However, keep in mind that many differences do not make your character special or powerful – ordinary has its own beauty too. You just need to decide the right dosage.
You can write about a male who wants to break stereotypes and might struggle a bit as he wished to become a good speaker. Or you can write about a female character that tends to think about risks a lot and struggle to get rid of that habit of hers.
Before we separate people as a male and a female, we accept them as a human. So I do not think there is a difference between emotions, both of them can laugh, cry, get angry or put their pride first. However, how and when they do this can differ.
Males often try to hide their tears because most of the cultures see this as a weakness. But that does not mean they do not feel sad or not cry – they might do it when they are alone or with close ones. So you can write a heavy break up scene and make the male character cry behind the walls.
This is not an obligation, however, I often came across books that tend to give a genderbend name that is close to the original one in pronunciation. This is not wrong but if you want to have more options, I can suggest you look for names that have similar meanings or just a random name without a connection to the original one.
I think the best way to write a genderbend fiction is to forget the gender and just write the character as a raw human being. That is a kind of key element. Ask yourself this,
How would I describe this character if gender did not exist? In which form I would set the morals or would I ever set rules for that?
Do not let gender be a wall, a barrier for your imagination. Male or female – we are all just humans with little differences that ironically we- ourselves put as a society.
I do hope this writing can be helpful for you. Thank you so much for reading.
Do you like write or read genderbend fanfictions?
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