A change of gender

c534_alien_facehugger_plush_inuseWhen I was ten years old, my father took me to see Alien. Its not a movie for kids. In fact, I was horrified by the alien creature, made worse when we return home and my sister’s hermit crab escaped its cage by crawling out of shell. They look oddly like a facehugger- a teeny, tiny facehugger, and it was loose in my room!

But I digress…

The main protagonist, Ellen Ripley, played by Sirgourney Weaver, impressed me as there were few roles where the main character was a strong female. The director revealed the role was meant for a male protagonist.

When writing a story, and forming the character, I consider potential drama that comes from things like gender, age, race, religion, and era. These factors can provide new avenues to take a story, including conflicts the character must face and overcome.

Take for instance the era of Germany in 1930’s, and the main characters is a Jew, or do you change to German? Perhaps an American. What if you make the character a young child, or a senior citizen. You can see how these factors change things on how the story can shift.

What if the book Twilight focused on Edward (which Myers intended with another book but faced some issues with that). What if the story had Bella as a middle aged mom? What if the roles of human and vampire switched? What if the story took place in another time, or in another place?

Considering your own story, take a moment to switch roles, gender, age, era, and other factors and see if the story shifts to something better (or worse).  Also consider writing from another character’s point of view. You might find another character just as compelling as your first choice of character.

Post in comments your own methods and choices for characters. Do you write from a character similar to yourself, or do you like to shift personalities and become someone else?


6 Replies to “A change of gender”

  1. I have a tendency to write characters similar to myself, especially when I write female characters – shy, sometimes awkward, etc. I’ve been trying to steer away from that, however, and write stronger women. Women I want to be and such. For some reason, I don’t have that trouble with writing male characters. I can make them as different from me as I like and there’s no problem.

    I like the idea of taking a story and flipping the gender of the MC, just to see what the result it. ^_^ I’m really glad they made Ripley in Aliens a woman – Sigourney Weaver kicked ass!


    1. That’s a good point you make; to write characters you want to be. And I totally agree with Weaver kick’n ass. She was awesome, in fact, many of the roles the actress takes are so incredibly powerful.
      Thanks for the comment!


  2. LOVE Alien! And your story about the hermit crab reminded me about the time my sister and I caught craw fish for our neighbor. He wasn’t home so we put them in a bucket on the porch. That night, we both had a dream that they got out and were crawling in our beds. The next morning, we found that they actually had escaped. So, if I have a craw fish dream again, I’m blaming you.
    As for writing, I try NOT to make my characters too similar to myself, but they usually end up with a few tidbits of me anyway.


    1. That could be a funny story…Attack of the Crawfish! Its funny how kids’ imaginations get the better of them. I was also convinced I had creatures under my bed. Come to find out- I did. A mouse lived in the wall and came out one night. I then had this dream of getting out of bed, and a rat the size of a dog came out from under my bed to bite my foot. For years after, I would do this run-jump onto my bed for fear of something under there. lol


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