The idea that you can only write from the viewpoint of your own age group, background, sex, species, or even experiences, seemed absurd and restrictive to me even as a kid. What room was there for imagination in that? Ignoring this whole notion, I shape-shifted with gusto, writing stories from a multitude of viewpoints, from twin detectives to enchanted frogs, princesses to ghosts, mighty warriors to globe-trotting postage stamps(really!) There was no limit, as far as I was concerned.
Now, though I might have grown up and learned a good deal more about writing, my hackles still rise at the idea that because of my physical self, my imaginative self can’t shape-shift. If I feel like writing from the viewpoint of a teenage boy, exiled princess, betrayed soldier, werewolf girl, hunted criminal, spellbound artist or war correspondent, then damnit, that’s just what I’m going to do—and in fact have done. And apparently successfully, judging from the reactions of my readers.
Nobody seriously asks how you can possibly write from the viewpoint of say, a werewolf, a sorcerer, or a ghost. It’s just assumed the imagination takes over. But when it comes to gender, well-meaning people can sound as though they think it’s a far greater stretch. The idea that a female writer can write from a male viewpoint, successfully, is not as hotly contested as the reverse, but it still hovers there.
I thought it might be interesting, rather than just talking in generalities, to look at a couple of my own actual experiences of writing from the viewpoint of a male character: in my recent adult novel, Trinity: The Koldun Code, and in my recent YA novel, The Crystal Heart. In each of these books, the story is told in alternating points of view, one a female character’s viewpoint, one a male. [Read more…]