Jun. 15, 2012

Fiction Friction

Don’t you just hate when a writer makes a general assumption about a person’s character?


And I don’t just mean when they’re writing a character… I mean in real life too.


I have this friend…  He says that all female writers make their female characters what they (themselves) want to be, and that they don’t show them as how they (women) truly are. He goes on to say that, only men know how to show women for who they truly are, and nothing more.


Now, I don’t want to “down” my friend. But Is it true that female writers everywhere write women the way they want to be? And is it also true that men write women the way they are?


Does it make sense? 


In a way, sure it does. Men see women one way and women see women another. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t two sides to every story, and then the truth.


I don’t think anyone can truly know a person’s character inside and out. In fact, I know some married couples who are still “finding” each other. We let the world see one thing, and then we let ourselves see another. And that doesn’t mean that you're being “fake.” It just means you’re being human.


A character has only a fraction of the complex personality of us “real people.” I mean, if a writer gave a character a “complex” personality, the book would read like a psychology textbook, and be twice as long. That’s not saying that it can’t be done, but it would turn the reader off. And speaking of the reader… Don’t they have a say in what the character's personality is?


The answer… Of course, they do. Not every reader reads the same story, and not every reader reads the same character.


So, what’s the real question here?


Is it that men write women the way they are? Or that women write women the way they want to be?


No. The real question is… How do writers make a character that speaks to both men and women without one sex outshining the other?


It’s a hard question to answer, and one that writers have been struggling with for centuries.  So, how do you – The Reader – think that we – The Writer’s – should go about making this happen?


I want your opinion. Tell me.    



The Fiction Writer