Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Fricassee

Monday's just around the corner, and I'm excited! Our upcoming Are You Hooked? is going to be the best yet, thanks to the kindness and generosity of our fabulous Secret Agent.

So make sure you're here with bells on to find out the submission requirements and get your work in on time!

(Authoress wishes she had something to submit, but realizes, of course, that that would be rather tacky.)

In the meantime, let's discuss the whole gender-in-writing thing. We've already got a couple here who seem to "break the mold."

Or is the "mold" nonexistent?

What quirks or idiosyncrasies do you feel belong inherently to one sex or the other when it comes to writing? (Ur, "authoring.")

Can you pick up a book without knowing the author, and tell whether it was written by a man or a woman?

If so, why?

What does it take to write a compelling protagonist of the opposite sex?

Charles Dickens pulls it off in Bleak House.

And what about those battle scene openings that I personally detest? Truth be told, I've not read an opening battle scene written by a female author. There might be a subtle difference there that would draw me in. Or perhaps not.

I'm not against battle scenes. "Helm's Deep" from Tolkien's The Two Towers is terrific. (And despite the huge changes they made in the actual storyline, the movie's rendition is fairly fabulous, too.)

Talk! I love when you talk.

And I'll see you all bright and early on Monday!


  1. I think there are habits of genders that come out in writing, but they sound cliche, like a female character obsessing over shoes. I don't expect to see that from a good writer.

    And I don't think I should be able to pick up on the authors gender by reading the book. If the POV character is male I really want it to sound masculine. Even if that means focusing on some girl's assets. If the POV character is female I expect the writing to reflect her gender... not the authors.

    Am I making sense?

    This was discussed a few weeks ago on Hey! There's a Dead Guy on the Floor! blog. I'll have to go look up the link, but it's a good essay.

  2. Here it is!

  3. About picking up the book and knowing if the writer is male or female. Well... If they're really good you're not going to know and you're not going to care. Fact is, I like my men to act like men. The women, though I don't care for whiners, should act like women. (IMHO it's okay to be afraid of spiders and snakes)

    Nothing is worse than a male character that takes on female mannerisms or a female that is too masculine or tough, with no weaknesses. I despise overly mushy male characters. I wish these writers would take a lesson from life. I know that my husband would probably be the last to write me a love ballad, but he'll show me his love by tearing the toilet apart and fixing it when it's busted. Now that's realistic and someone who really puts thought and depth into their characters will notice these little differences and write them that way. Men and Women don't think alike. Never have, never will. I like the characters to have layers, but realistic layers. If the writer is female, I don't want the male characters to think like a woman, taking on the writer's personality. It turns me completely off. Crit a few roughs and you'll come across someone who does this. A romance where the man is all flowery speach and mushy to the point of inducing nausea. Give me a break. When's the last time your guy told you he could get lost in your eyes and and that your skin was like silken heaven, you took the breath from his lungs... blah, blah, blah. Even when I dated my husband, I didn't get that and I'd probably would have run scared if he did. What I got was a man of actions and less words. The kind that when you opened the door, he walked in and backed you against the wall, kissing you until you were senseless. So, sometimes it's obvious and you go blech. But like I said, sometimes it's not and that's the sign of a great writer. Can women write great battle scenes? You betcha. Especially if they've lived it and know tactics. Can men write great female characters? Absolutely. Several male romance writers use pen names because they worry they'll lose their female readers if they knew.
    IMHO Who cares. If you write compelling characters, does it really matter?

  4. Just for fun:

    The Gender Genie supposedly can tell which gender you are (it hardly ever guesses right with me, lol) by counting how many times you use words it deems as masculine and words it deems as feminine. Whichever "side" has the higher count wins.

    Anyway, back on topic, I don't really care as long as the author's gender doesn't stick out inappropriately. Examples: A sexist theme, "masculine" characters that talk/act like females, "feminine" characters that talk/act like males, and so forth. It becomes a distraction and, frankly, isn't very good writing--imo.

  5. I can tell, often even with the pros write flat characters of the opposite sex, imo.

    George R. R. Martin has yet to write a woman who didn't feel like a man trapped in a woman trapped in a steryotypical desire to be a man.

    I recently read The Bone Garden which, while a fairly interesting historical fiction, had laughable shells of things called men who were secretly women obsessing over women pretending to be men.

    Of course, some do it better than others, like Robert Jordan, who never wrote a character I didn't believe--even if they were all trapped in an epic exposition without end.

    And some are smart enough to stay away from things they can't write, like Patricia A McKillip who writes almost entirely from the feminine viewpoint.

  6. Of course, I'm a man trapped in a craft dominated by women, who loves to start stories with battles and end them with men spouting flowery prose.

    So maybe I'm nothing more than a how-to in a book about bad writing :(

  7. Um, Just for S!%*$ and giggles, we should have a blind submission of our work and see if the readers can guess our genders or if it comes out in our writing...
    It would be interesting to see if it can be done...

  8. You know, Dawn, that WOULD be fun! Methinks women outnumber men right now, which might skew the results. But perhaps our upcoming hook contest will draw in some new regulars, and would make something like this more interesting.


  9. Dawn~ Your first post amused me. In our house things are a bit backwards. DH doesn't like spiders and I'm the one who fixes everything.

    I'm a very independent female. I'm not in the habit of crying or having someone else fix things for me. I dislike female characters who are mushy, flowery, and dependant on another character. For me, that doesn't ring true.

    So part of the gender bias may be a personal bias of what we see in daily life?

    DH cooks and cleans as much as I do. He used to write poetry and he reads the bedtime stories. I like taking things apart and fixing them. I don't like chick-flicks. And most my books involve lots of explosions. If I wrote our daily lives out I think our "characters" might come out sounding gender-confused because we don't fit streotypes.

    I do like the idea of a blind-submission to see if we can guess gender.

  10. *delurks*

    Gender Comp sounds fun :D

    Nothing much to add to the present discussion, esp since I'm at work O:) but I do agree that I want my males to sound and act male, and my females to sound and act female. Allowing, of course, for the massive variation in what we see in real life as 'male behaviour' and 'female behaviour' ;):)

  11. Wow, great discussion! We're definitely going to have to "go there" some time soon. After our big ARE YOU HOOKED, that is.

    Who, me? A little excited for Monday? :D

  12. It's Monday...but um I'm guessing you're still in bed! (I'm in the UK) heeehee! Very excited :) Yuna

  13. Yup
    5am here on the East coast. Oh Authoress, where art thou????

  14. 5am? You gotta be kidding. I'm just now stumbling toward the coffee maker.

    Patience, patience...


  15. Patince? Huh, patience...

    (goes to look up the strange word in the dictionary)

  16. can you tell if a book is written by a man or woman? - yes if it's poorly written and no if it's well written....I acutally have an exercise from a class along those lines and the bad example are really hilareous

  17. I linked to your blog for this contest.

    So, maybe you'll get one or two more readers