Writing Characters Different from Ourselves #IWSG #Lostherofic

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[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are, Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant and Beverly Stowe McClure.

Thank you so much! And thank you founder Alex J. Cavanaugh!

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As a reader, character driven stories draw me instantly. Some of my favorite authors show me the person at a rapid and believable pace. As a writer, I spend my energy first on the character and all those characters who build her story. I mention her for a reason. Being a woman, I’ve narrowed my focus and choose females as my leading characters since it’s what I know very well. I never expected to write a successful story as a man.

This month’s IWSG questions asks: “Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

My answer is yes to both parts with “The Wheat Witch” in the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life Anthology. Two things were different actually. First, I wrote the story as adult fiction/fantasy, and secondly, I choose a man as my hero.

I LOVE the Young Adult genre, especially fantasy. My initial brainstorm in “The Wheat Witch” involved two separate directions for the theme. One with a young teen boy going through the physical change of leaving the farm and losing the power, then the story quickly spiraled beyond the limits of 5,000 words. I came up with second premise about the older, retired gentleman reflecting on the damage he’d done to himself because of who he left behind transpired.

What helped shift my focus? What tips do I have to offer?

  1. Interview someone who could be a potential character in your book, your M.C.
    I Interviewed my father to gain insight into his life on my grandfather’s farm.
  2. What do you know about the topic? Brainstorm.
    I channeled my own memories of growing up in the summers with my grandparents for a couple of weeks, feeding a baby calf, harvesting the vegetables from the garden, running through the hay bales and spending hours in the fields, mostly building forts or tagging along with my grandma. Those moments are still alive in me from the feel of the sun, or the site of a moonless and star filled sky.
  3. Listen to dialogue and ask others who might be the experts, how they describe images.
    I paid careful attention to the words my father used as he talked. I spent a great deal of time discussing words and asking my partner to help come up with different ways to describe phrases.

Of course, I had a really great writing partner help me clean up a few scenes.

Did I write well like a man? I’d certainly like to think I did a decent job.  I’m not quite sure I’ll try it again, but that’s always been my style. When something scares you, you have to at least try it once so you can reflect and either swear it off, or quite possibly decide it was better than you believed it would ever be and you’ll consider taking the risk again.

How about you? What have you tried recently you never thought you would?

About Erika Beebe

Author, dreamer, and a momma to a couple of wonderful kids, I try to live life everyday in hope and inspire others along my way.

Posted on September 6, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. Funny – my story for the anthology was also from a male perspective, something I had written from before.

  2. I write from a female perspective but I do have a fantasy idea based on a Greek myth where the MC is an adolescent boy. Not sure if or when I’ll ever write it. But have two boys at home who’d provide great research material.

  3. Erika great work here,

    I like that quote from Walt Disney

  4. I think you wrote very well. I’ve written in both and I prefer a male POV. Simpler. LOL

  5. And you rocked it from the guy’s point of view. Fortunate you had your own memories and your father’s help. I wouldn’t have a clue when it came to farming.

  6. Your story was fantastic! I think your risk was well worth it. And thanks for the tips.

  7. Woot! Glad it worked out for you! I admit I’ve never interviewed a guy to help with my male characters. Then again, half of my characters are male, and according to those silly online tests, many of my natural responses are considered masculine. Pfft! Forget you, stereotypes.

  8. You are so right about curiosity. That’s what first got me into writing and probably the reason I can’t leave it. There are so many interesting bits out there I want to explore.

  9. Visiting from the IWSG! That is so cool that you’ve found your voice in a male character! For all of my stories so far, I’ve written female characters. I’ve tried writing from a man’s perspective, but it’s incredibly difficult for me! So a round of applause to you for being able to do that!

  10. Wow! I’ve never interviewed someone for a story, but when I think about the sound of words – especially for a certain skill or knowledge set – it sounds like a lovely and intriguing idea. Thanks for sharing, Erika!

  11. These are great tips. I’m intrigued by this idea of writing a short story or flash fiction piece with a male protag. Something for me to ponder. 🙂

  12. One of the things I enjoy about writing is when the story leads me just beyond my expertise, so I have to learn a little more about something I’m interested in, or the kind of person I consider interesting, in order to go forward with the story.

  13. Interesting how you approach writing from a male POV. I started thinking about it, and my experience seems a bit different. When I write from a woman’s POV, my heroines tend to be flawed. But when I write from a man’s POV, I tend to make my heroes almost ideal. They are my ‘dream men’. I want to encounter such guys in real life, but I never had, so I write about them. Does it make sense?

  14. I find my first instinct is to write from a male POV. Don’t think I ever really thought about it until now. I wonder why? Interesting.

  15. I find I write from a male perspective a lot but I have also done the female. I think male is my favorite sometimes because it is opposite of me so easier to get in head and express self in a way a female would not. Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  16. Thank you for stopping by my blog.
    I always look forward to your quotes and this is a good one.
    As for characters, I like the tips you offer and have tried them before… Unfortunately, the one interview I tried didn’t go well, but I’ll still try it again.
    BTW- I really enjoyed your Wheat Witch story.

  17. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    Hi, Erika! I really enjoyed the “Wheat Witch.” I never would have guessed that it was your first attempt to write from a male POV. Wow! My only published short-story was told from the POV of a male. I never really thought about the POV ~ That’s just how the story came to me. You offered excellent tips for writing. I remember how grounded the “Wheat Witch” was in its setting; obviously your memories are what helped the setting seem so real to this reader. I often approach stories, even non-fiction, through setting ~ I respond to physical places so viscerally. I’ve moved around a lot and traveled a lot, and I think place has such an impact on character. Happy writing in September!

  18. Lovely post. Nice to read about you approach characterisation. I’m also more worried about main male characters than female. I wonder if I can really get under their skin. I hope I do…

  19. Thank you for the tips, Erika. Although I have a husband, 2 older brothers and several grandsons, I wouldn’t try to write as a male. I still don’t understand how they think!!

  20. Rosemary Reader and Writer

    Well done on changing gender… I mean in your writing. Almost all my mcs are female. I find writing from a male pov very challenging.

  21. What a great idea to interview someone for a story! I’d never thought of doing that. Congrats on stretching out like that. I’m kind of hesitant to write from a man’s perspective too. . .but writing knows no bounds.

  22. Yes, I agree. You have to give things a try, right! I want to get out of my comfort zones by writing a girl character next. I know that sounds strange but I’ve never written a successful female character, yet. The male tone is easier for me, somehow! Good on you for taking that leap.

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