Being Conscious about Gender in Writing

In a recent post, author Mette Ivie Harrison states “All gender, in my view, is in the end, a masquerade.” You should go read the whole thing here.

Kate Elliott, author of many titles such as the recent Spiritwalker Trilogy, responds to this post with a discussion of her own struggle with writing gender — especially the female gender — in her own work:

I try very hard to write stories in which there are as many female characters as male characters, with as much agency and importance in the plot. Yet I often have consciously to go back through later drafts to make sure that my female leads aren’t being more passive than I actually want them to be, aren’t letting others make decisions for them or devise all the cunning plans (unless there is a specific reason because of experience, competencies, or social roles), are showing leadership, and are present as confident individuals with a strong sense of themselves (as long as that is within character).

Malinda Lo, author of Ash and Huntress which are described as “lesbian retelling of Cinderella,” discusses gender in her writing as well:

In my first two fantasy novels, Ash and Huntress, I don’t think I encountered the passivity problem. But with my next novel, I found myself falling straight into the passive feminine character trap — even when I truly, in my gut, did not believe that character was a passive individual. It was a little startling to me to see it on the page, and I do hope that in revision her character has become the individual I imagined her to be.

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