Sunday, May 2, 2010
Blog Chain: Gender Bender!
Sandra starts our blog chain off this round. She asked:
Have you ever created a character different from yourself in some significant way, such as (but not limited to) different gender, race, ethnic group, religion, or sexual orientation? If so, what, if any, research did you do to portray these differences?
Was this character a main character, secondary character, or walk-on? Did these differences have an impact on the story?
Gotta love these questions!
In my first novel, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS, one of my two main characters is a dude--Torin. Writing his dialogue and character was very natural about 90% of the time. HOWEVER, there were definitely moments where I'd stare at what I'd just written and think "Something's.... off." These were usually the moments where, unbeknownst to me, I'd made Torin react to a situation like a lady. Poor Torin..
In these scenerios, I turned to my Resident Man Expert, or RME for short (my husband.) I'd force him to read a scene, or even just shout "What would a dude do in 'blank' situation??" Once I found out that instead of crying, a dude would actually punch the ground. Hence the scene feeling .. awkward. Once I had Torin punching stuff dry-eyed everything made a lot more sense, and the other character's reactions felt much more natural. Thank you, RME!
In HOLLOW LAND (the novel I'm currently working on), I have a few east asian characters as well as a Jewish female lead. This is definiely going to require not only a trip or two to the library but also for me to consult with some non-whitey whites. The good thing is, not only am I friendly with several nice Indian folks at work whose brains I can pick, but there is something wonderful we have now, called The Internet. I've started following a few blogs from the countries my characters originate from to get a feel for the culture. I'm hoping I can eventually get some beta readers of the same religion/culture to help me out and make sure I'm not being a dork about some detail or another.
If I had any advice for you guys, it's to be brave :). Don't be afraid to write a certain character just because they are outside your immediate frame of reference. Learning new things is what makes this fun! Go for it, and get excited to learn about other cultures, sexual orientations, and even how the other sexes think.
What do you guys think? Have you ever written outside your comfort zone? How did it turn out?
Don't miss Shannon's answer coming up tomorrow!