Boy vs Girl in Tween Novels

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Well, if you didn’t know it, I’m a female writer of young adult and middle grade novels. My debut novel, Explorer X – Alpha’s main character was a male. A boy named Aadi that was fourteen years old is a stretch from a grown female writer that created him. For me though, writing a male was much more exciting than writing a female. My book The Pack has a female, blind vigilante as the main character.

But…Shamira was a lot harder for me to write than Aadi, simply because I take being female for granted.

Many authors I’ve met write female main characters, because they feel as though their understanding of the male psyche is vague. Also, they think that girls are the larger reading audience and that it’s a lot easier to sale a book written with females in mind than males. I personally disagree. As a girl, I liked reading books from a boy’s point of view. I felt that it allowed me to delve further into boy’s thoughts, and enjoyed reading about both sexes.

 As a writer, writing something totally different than I am everyday is like living out an adventure of my own making.  Picture a writer as an actor, playing a part out in their head as they write. In order to feel comfortable writing a character – you have to study people that fit that character’s profile.

CHALLENGES WHEN WRITING A MALE

Although my initial inclination is to write as a male, I still have tons of challenges trying to portray male characters correctly. Since my career as an engineer is a male dominated profession, it’s been a great source of subject matter to use when writing.

Male character’s experience emotion, they just show it in different ways than females. Not to mention their dialogue is different from most females. Those subtle differences a writer has to take the time to notice. Society has certain expectations and rules for males and writing as a male should fit those boundaries – otherwise, the reader will notice.

Aadi was easy for me to write, because I have a son that’s the same age as my main character. My kid somewhat fits Aadi’s character profile because he’s a jock and a good student. Most writers pull their character profiles from someone they know, researched, or imagined.

When I write in boy, it’s like I’m acting out that character’s adventure and it becomes my own. Writing Aadi was exciting to for so many reasons. I was able to shed my daily makeup as a girl, and for the months it took me to write him – I was able to be young again, strong, and powerful. Not just young, but be a boy.

CHALLENGES WITH WRITING A GIRL

Writing a female main character allows me to express deeper emotions, to be what I am everyday – a girl. You know what? For me, it’s difficult, because writing as a boy I get to imagine a totally different persona. I’m a girl, and being a girl in my writing isn’t quite so exciting. So I cheat, I make her into a tough girl.

My main character in The Pack, Shamira, was especially challenging to write. I had to make it fun, because if my characters aren’t interesting, it’s hard for me to write them. So, I gave her it all – cool girly clothes, a motorcycle named Pearl, and a too die for hottie on her tracks. She’s a girl – but she kicks major booty and is somewhat cocky. I gave her outer appearance a feminine softness. However, she’s a trained fighter that carries herself with the sureness of a male that can protect himself.

PULLING IT TOGETHER

All of my books are composed of a strong array of male and female characters. I love to write with multiple lead characters. Why? Because when I was a kid, I loved to have friends around. Also, it allows me to write characters that are both male and female yet bonded together in friendship.

By: LM Preston, author of Explorer X – Alpha and The Pack www.lmpreston.com, http://lmpreston.blogspot.com

6 thoughts on “Boy vs Girl in Tween Novels

  1. I’ve narrated from both male and female perspectives, but I found that my guy was more touchy-feely than most guys, and my girl was more stoic and action-driven than most girls. Fun, though!

  2. Yo, LM, great post on tackling the genders! My first two books are written in the POV of 13-year-old girls, but my next book will be written in a 14-year-old boy’s POV. Fun times! It does push an author’s creative process to step out of what we know and dive into unknown waters! Cheers for a well-written piece!

  3. Thanks everyone. This is something that really touches me because as a writer I love the challenge of writing other genres and povs. I know there are others out there and I just want to encourage you to explore writing for boys also.

  4. Very nice post, LM. Writing a character from any perspective or personality than your own can be a challenge. I have to constantly ask myself what would *they* do, not what would I do. It sure is fun, though!

  5. I relied heavily on observing my then 14-16 year-old daughter and her friends when writing my first fantasy series. The real challenge and fun comes from getting inside those characters’ heads, as Michelle said above. Great post, LM!

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