Dull day

It is a particularly dull and miserable day, today, with unbroken thick grey cloud overhead, an unpleasant, damp cold, and a very thin rain in the air. I read bits of my novel, and I yearn at this moment to be in India. That I am looking through a few of the photographs I took in India, at the moment, does not help.

P1050060

I am now at the stage of giving my short novel its first edit. I have written the book from the point of view of an adult female in a rural community in Northern India. It is primarily about both the relationship between the two main characters; a woman and her daughter-in-law, and about the roles and the treatment of women in a male dominated society. The way that I have written it, it is essential for the reader to be able to get inside the head of one of the main protagonists. So, for this reason, I felt that the narrator had to be one of them.

It is a little unusual, of course, but hardly unheard of, for a writer to write with the voice of someone of the opposite sex, although it is more usual for female authors to adopt the voice of a male narrator, rather than the other way round.

(Is that because we are so shallow and easily understood? Don’t answer that, it might be a post for another time, although if I did attempt to write it, I probably wouldn’t have the courage to finish.)

Anyway, whether this voice I have used in my novel sounds authentic or not, might be quite another matter.

I can imagine several areas where I might have succeeded less well than I would have hoped;

a) It might sound like a male voice, especially to female readers.

b) I may have painted a vague, shallow picture of my narrator, subconsciously avoiding difficulties.

c) I may therefore have painted minor characters more brightly than the protagonists.

d) By doing this, I may present as an arrogant westerner, thereby fulfilling images of ex-colonial stereotypes.

On my CV, however, I do have a few months when I was living and working in a small town in Northern India, much of the time spent in rural areas, amongst a dozen or so visits to India in total.

It probably goes without saying that I also have a keen interest in most things Indian, many books about India and, of course, we all have Google.

And writers do, all the time, write about places and situations that are outside their experience, and it is never really possible for anyone to fully understand the thought processes of someone from another time, another culture, or another gender, and so it is a level playing field in that respect.

So, with a glance out of the window at the gloom outside, I’ll get on with it. I do wonder how many male writers have tried to write with a female voice, though, and how successful they felt they were…

…anyone want to come in at this point?

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25 thoughts on “Dull day

  1. I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to get into the skin of another character, getting into one of another country, culture and gender is much tougher.Best of luck with your book though, and if you’d like an Indian perspective, you’ll find enough friends to help you with that. 🙂

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  2. As Dave says best to find a beta reader of the gender/ background of the character you are concerned about. My current wip has any number of Polish characters, men and women. I’m fortunate to have found a great Polish lady who’s read it and given excellent feedback. Ditto locations. The blog world is fully of lovely people willing to help. Stick your neck out Mick and enjoy the ride!

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  3. (a) I don’t believe the gender thing should be an issue for any writer. People are people, and it’s sad that as a species we’ve always been so obsessed with the (comparatively few) physical differences that we waste so much of everything in attempting to impose other “differences” on ourselves. Don’t get me started!

    (b) and (c) can be risks for anyone using a narrator. And minor characters often have a habit of trying to grab the limelight.

    The real risk is (d), in all probability aggravated by those who don’t share my views on (a), so the advice about getting a friend to cast a constructively critical eye over it is spot on.

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d love to read your novel – I am already intrigued and curious to know more about the background and characters involved in this story. I could almost imagine myself in India and eager to learn more about the culture there. If I were a man writing from a woman’s perspective, I think I would too, get a female friend to check it out before it goes to print as it’s been proven that men and woman’s brains tend to look at perspectives somewhat differently – Go for it, Mick and good luck, Ellie.

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    1. Thanks, Ellie. I already have one female friend reading it – my wife – and once I have finished the first edit, I will definitely ask an Indian female to read it for me. It’s all rather exciting, and a little bit scary!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you should write the novel the way you want to write it, and not worry about if another way would be better. If you are writing from your heart, it will be authentic, I think. The main thing that bogs down the writing process is trying to tailor it to fit others. I bet your book will be very good!

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