Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to write characters of a different gender than yours

At Star Trek Writer's Defense of Diversity in Sci-Fi Is Damn Near Perfect, PV said,
I don't think I could ever write a convincing same-sex relationship. I'm just not wired that way. But I totally support and encourage those who do - even if that kind of relationship doesn't interest me personally. The reason is simple, if we want a better world for ourselves, we have to have a better world for everyone. It isn't always easy or practical, but it is possible. For me to have my life the way I want it, others have to be able to have their lives the way they want them. And so long as those lives can exist in harmony, without interfering with each other - then we have created an environment where there is a better world.
I replied,
Speaking as a straight guy who has written same-sex relationships, it's easy with one huge caveat: you write the characters, not their gender. If you don't understand that, you won't write convincing relationships of people of your own gender, let alone people of other genders. And to be a writer, you've got to be able to write about everyone. That may sound scary, but the answer there is simple, too: do the research to learn how those characters' lives were shaped differently than yours.