Writing for a cast characters of the opposite gender is no easy task. But I enjoyed the five years it took to get to know and create the main men in my story. Here is a little snippet about the three main males you will get to know in my Fantasy Series:
As you can see, in my newly released fantasy novel Treefell: Legend of the Wood,
there are three main characters- and they’re all male. There are more main characters in the novel, and yep, you guessed it- they too are male. In this first book in the series, the gist of the characters are male.
So, why did I do it? Why did I make my cast mostly guys? How did I write for a cast that is mostly men, varying in ages from sixteen to eighty-six? Why is the story’s voice taken from the standpoint of an eight-teen year old guy, if I’m a twenty-five year old gal? Does having a mostly male cast limit the interest of female readers? And sheesh! where are all the women in this novel already?!
I know you must be asking these questions and many more, but I’ll go through each, and any else you wish to ask me.
Why Did I Write a Novel with a Predominantly Male Cast? :
Well, not unlike many of you fellow writers out there, I too found that writing for even one character of the opposite sex was a challenge. So why did I do three? (and then some?!)
When I first began writing this story, I thought about my audience, which, at the time, was my brother and his closest friends. They too were my closest friends, and so I wanted to write a story that would appeal to them. I was seven-teen, and at the time, I never thought my story would be published. I thought, if anyone were to read it, it would be my friends. And I remember the day when one of my friends asked me, “You’re a girl, so why is the main character a guy?”
I remember stammering, drawing a blank, and then explaining that it just seemed natural for the story I was plotting. The main character, in my head, was supposed to be a guy.
I just didn’t see it as strange. Frankly, I couldn’t see my story taken from the standpoint of any other person but eight-teen year old, unassuming, Geth Hadran. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want a female lead, it just never occurred to me to make the main character a girl. I never pictured this story being about a brother and a sister, or a pair of sisters, facing a challenge that could separate their family. To me, the sibling rivalry was supposed to be between a pair of brothers.
Further, I wanted Geth’s closest companions to be who any other young guy may choose to be his closest confidants: guy friends. And they too are a big part of the story. So the cast just seemed natural, in my eyes, to be mostly made up of men.
How Did I Write for a Cast of Men of Various Ages?:
As you can tell, the cast ranges from six-teen year old Anfin, to fifty year old Korgen, and various other male characters even older than Korgen. It was a challenge writing male characters of various ages and even more challenging writing these characters with various personalities. In fact, initially, I had a real problem creating characters with diverse personalities. I’ll expound on that challenge in next week’s blog article, Why my Characters Were Cardboard Cut Outs and What I Did to Fix Them.
But I made a discovery which helped me better hone each character. When I was writing a scene which involved a certain character outside of my “writing comfort zone”, I thought about one of my own friends or relatives most similar to the character. This little trick helped me to anchor a character’s reactions to a reliable constant.
At the start of the story, the three main characters are going through a difficult struggle which reaches its highest point of frustration as the story progresses. Even after five years, there still were times that I wasn’t certain how each character should react to certain situations. I had to remind myself that the troubles they were going through were intense, so it should challenge them mentally, emotionally, and even physically. I also had to remind myself that each challenge should divulge different responses from each character. The older characters should be able to face challenges with better stamina, while the younger should respond with a little less certainty.
At the same time, each character’s response to different obstacles varied according to their own unique strengths and weaknesses.
Why is the Story Taken from the Standpoint of an Eight-Teen Year Old Guy, If I’m a Twenty-Five Year Old Gal?:
Just because I’m a girl and I’m twenty-five years old doesn’t mean I always have to create a main character that is also a twenty-five year old girl. That would limit every story I write and therefore make my characters boringly predictable. As I said before, it was just ideal, in my head, to have the main character be a young male, for this story. But, writing as if the reader was in the mind of an eight-teen year old guy was a new challenge for me. Hanging out with guys for most of my life certainly didn’t make my writing perspective perfect, but it did help me think about how a guy Geth’s age would react to the experiences he goes through. I wanted his responses to seem natural to a guy his age reading this story.
Does Having a Mostly Male Cast Limit the Interest of Female Readers?
Well I certainly hope not! I mean, I understand that some girls or women may turn away from this story because this series is taken from a young guy’s point of view. But I still feel that the story is relative to any and all readers. What makes me say that? Well, Geth goes through family problems, trust issues, tests of loyalty, and challenges of his strengths, and his weaknesses. All of us have gone through such struggles at one point or another in our lives. Therefore I believe that no matter what the gender, or age, all can relate in one way or another to the problems that Geth and his family undergo.
If you’re a writer and you too have a cast made up mostly of one-gender characters, then perhaps you too have faced similar concerns or reservations. But don’t panic! Make your characters’ personalities diverse and relatable. Make their challenges unique and make their reactions unpredictable. Keep the plot consistent, smart, and fresh. If you combine these elements, then readers shouldn’t have too much of a problem truly enjoying your story.
So Where the Heck are all the Women in this Story?!
Well mind you, I didn’t leave females completely out of this story. One of the most pivotal characters in the story is the matriarch of the society. Yes you read that correctly: the matriarch of the society. She is known as one of the last Great Exemplars. Great Exemplars are honored in the Treefell society as one of the “wells of wisdom”, or those highly respected for their ancient knowledge of the trees.
Another female made mention of in this book is a young seven-teen year old girl named Lorien. She is pictured in this first book as Anfin’s love interest, but as the series sequels are released, you will see that her image, as well as her challenges will change. And most assuredly, more female characters will make it onto the scene as you follow the series.
So how does my backstory of writing for characters of the opposite gender benefit you personally as a writer? What do you have to gain from what I’ve shared? You can benefit in three ways:
1. Take on the challenge of creating a character of the opposite gender. Don’t be afraid of a great risk that is well worth your effort! you are a talented writer already, and you desire to create characters that readers relate to. Think about your current story or your next story and see where you can put a character of the opposite gender in a strong role.
2. Don’t think about your whole audience, write for just one perfect, ideal “avatar” reader. We hear sometimes that it’s best to write for one person, not a whole audience. I’d have to agree. In my case, it was my brother. He was the exact audience I was looking for. He loved Fantasy, including novels like the Lord of the Rings. And at the time, he was eighteen, and really loved anything with a medieval feel to it. And, writing with him in mind, made it easier to market my book, come promotion time.
3. When writing for a character of the opposite gender, make personal connections to those of the opposite gender in your life. It is best to have mental anchors to help you stay true to honest reactions of the opposite gender. Having these constants help remind you of what your characters’ honest reactions should be.
That’s this weeks post on how I wrote for a cast of the opposite gender. Granted, even after five years, my story, in my eyes, still hasn’t reached perfection. But you and I both know that as writers we should not be looking for perfection. We should be looking for a great story to share with our readers. And that is what I feel I can offer you in Treefell: Legend of the Wood.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below! I’d love to hear what you have to say.
For more helpful tips on writing for the opposite gender, check out my blog post Writing for the Opposite Gender: Three Tips You Never Thought Of!
And stay tuned next week for the following blog article by signing up for the Barely Hare Books Newsletter : Why my Characters Were Cardboard Cut Outs and What I Did to Fix Them
For more on these characters and where their challenges take them, check out the first chapter for free right on my blog under the page B.H. Books! Or go ahead and support this series by purchasing and reading the first in the series for only $0.99! Click the photo below for instant access via Amazon: