Specifically, Another Gender
The other day I was browsing a Facebook group for writers and came across a woman asking how she should write from a man’s POV. While I can quickly get overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in these groups, one response set me off.
She basically said to write from a woman’s POV and how she might want him to act and then re-write it so that what he does is opposite.
Don’t do this.
Gender may play a factor in a person’s behavior, but they are a multi-faceted organism that has conditioned by many thing in the the world around them. Painting a m an to be singularly contrary to women is not only offensive, but creates a flat character that will never be loved by your readers.
My advice for writing from another view point is to begin with the understanding that this character is, above all, human. It opens the door for you to realize your character cannot be defined by any single thing in their life.
Next, start to build identifiers. These are the labels your character might put upon themselves. As an example, a character might be Male, a Mechanic, a Father, and a Musician. These are things that will effect the way the character views the world. As a mechanic, he might see things as fixable when taken apart. As a father, he might become fiercely protective of the innocent. As a musician, he might be a party kind of guy (like rock legends), or he might be a big more chill and with the flow of things.
Next, take a look at the people around you. Friends and family are good, but also pay attention to the people you see in the grocery store or the post office. See who they are and what the world around them means to them. You will find some interesting ways of seeing the world that might help you create a character. You will also notice, even family members will see the world from a different lens.
Lastly, try searching out a reader who somehow embodies the character you have written. Interview them and ask questions on how your character might react given a certain situation. Later, ask them if they might have time to read these parts and help you find the right path toward making this character believable. Say you have a Turkish female character, try to reach out across the internet or across social circles and ask a Turkish woman if they might read your work.
Never paint a character as a flat stereotype. It not only hurts your writing, but it hurts you. People will see you in the wrong light if they think you only see these kinds of people from the view point of a stereotype. Even men.
I would like to see everyone fairly represented within literature so that we can start to see the world from everyone’s perspective.