Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gender Writing Thoughts

What I want to know is how Alexander McCall Smith can write about women so well. He writes his Isabel Dalhousie stories and his Number One Ladies Detective Agency mysteries each from a female point of view. And it's spot on.

Some men write women and they seem to me like nothing but bosoms and naked ambition -- men inside women's bodies. How do some men get it so wrong and others get it so right?

Of course, the opposite problem is just as prevalent, if not more so: women writing about men, and not getting it right at all. (Think of most romance novels.)

Ultimately, when I write a male character, I want him to be neither a woman in a man's body, nor a stereotype of some ideal of maleness. I want to write about individual, people who can seem real.

I suspect it is a lifelong learning process, to write as another person realistically, no matter their gender.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Blood and Brothers" in "Residential Aliens," October 2008

I have a short story on Residential Aliens, I would consider it science fiction, even though it's got a dragon in it. :) It's labeled under fantasy, though, so you can look at it either way.

~ Blood and Brothers by Alice M. Roelke (2950 words)

+ Young Trell yearned for his brother Axon's love - or at least acknowledgment. Would the dragon hunt bring them together...or tear them apart?


Trell eyed the weapons the men shared out. Some were tranquilizer guns, the rest, old-fashioned, one-shot harpoons. Axon saw him looking, and nodded to the men. They gave him a harpoon gun half his height. "Don't use that unless you have to. We want to leave it alive," instructed Axon.

direct link:

I wrote this story for an anthology last year. When it didn't make the cut, I sent it out to other places. The idea for the story had been germinating for a couple of months, but the impetus of an anthology deadline helped me sit down and write and revise it.

I sometimes like to write stories with an element of young adult, coming-of-age, and family themes. This is one story with those elements in it.

I recognize not everyone likes that sort of story, but to me, writing about growing up, and family, is very important. To young people, life can be so much more intense. Everything is important. Everything is happening 'now.' To those of us who are older, it is easy to get inured, to feel that the important things happened in the past, to just get sarcastic and blase, and think that everything is 'old hat.'

I read once that you should write about the most important thing that happens in your character's life, the most important decision, etc. Especially in a short story. Sometimes that is easier to do with young people, who are still finding themselves. I tried to do that with this story.

~Alice M. Roelke~