I Write As I Write

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Whenever I see Ian Fleming’s “James Bond” get beaten up yet again in opinion pieces and on social media, I usually can’t help but smile. Similarly, the female-authored “Christian Grey.” And why?

Because those “men” are fiction.

And being fiction that means that those characters don’t actually exist. Yet with such opinionating over them, however, the author has “won.” After all, it is the goal and the dream of every writer to invent fictional characters who jump off a page and resonate so strongly with readers that those characters produce such minutely studied and vocal reactions to them as “people”.

Reading by the Window. Walter Firle (German, 1859-1929). Oil on canvas.

A post shared by Women Reading (@womenreadingbooks) on

I have learned over the years that most of my readers appear to be women. That makes for a curious issue for me. For I write mostly male leads and mostly from a man’s perspective:

[Excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris. On Kindle for iPad. Click to expand.]

However, I look to be reasonably balanced in terms of characterizations because I’m writing about, well, both men and women. They share the tales. So the women I write are, hopefully, their own “real” people.

I do write occasionally from a woman’s point of view, but writing in that way is always extra-challenging and I am quite conscious of that. In my latest effort I grappled constantly with how to write the women. These two are indispensible to the story:

[Excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris. On Kindle for iPad. Click to expand.]
[Excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris. On Kindle for iPad. Click to expand.]

As often as possible I put into their mouths and into their thoughts what I have read of, and particularly was written by, women of their era (of the late 1700s). Overall in all of my novels thus far I also use not only what I’ve read, but what I have witnessed myself. I regularly borrow what women have actually said to me over the years in some form or another.

Marlene Dietrich reading in The Song of Songs, Paramount, 1933

A post shared by Women Reading (@women.reading) on

I write as I write for whomever wishes to read it. I’m not aiming at women readers, but clearly women do appear to prefer what I write more than do men. And that’s fine.

The best route to follow as a writer is always to be genuine. You will never please everyone. Let the reader chips fall where they may.

No matter what, it is profoundly satisfying to see readers debating your fiction – even if some are upset by some of it. And if you ever somehow produce a character some observers are so infuriated by that they want to see “him” or “her” “revisited” (or even “banned”) because they assert “he” or “she” somehow “offends” current day “standards” and “sensibilities,” I can only think to say to you as a writer, well done. Well done, indeed. πŸ™‚

2 comments

  1. Thank you for a great post. I agree with you about being genuine. I think women like your male characters, because they either have someone in their lives it reminds them of, or they want them to be more like your character. I write humor, and also have many female readers. In most of my stories, I’m clumsy, often clueless, and goofy, but I try my best, and have a good heart. I think I remind them of their spouses.

    Liked by 1 person

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