General

Your Favorite Woman?

Replying to my point that I have many more women readers than men, a man commenter noted a few weeks ago that he believed that probably wasn’t due primarily to the women characters in my books. He suggested it was perhaps explained in part by women liking my fictional men. I had not really considered that possibility before.

It led me to recall a woman reader early on writing me that she loved “Mark” in Passports. Unfortunately, “Mark” isn’t based on just one man. (Sorry.) I remember thinking also that I had gone to great lengths to write the women well (particularly the French women, who in our “Anglo-Saxon” literature are too often caricatured as nutcases, fiends, deviants, or “exotic”), and she had zeroed in on a man.🤔

[My novels so far. Photo by me, 2018.]

As a man, who is my “favorite” fictional male character in literature?

I won’t lie. I can’t immediately pinpoint only one. However, I will say it’s not “Mr. Darcy.” As a man reading him, I find him too “brooding” and “difficult”; but that was clearly how Jane Austen also meant to write him. And obviously gazillions of women adore him.

Okay, crunch time. If you are a man, who is your “favorite” fictional woman in literature? Think about it.

Mine is probably “Cora Munro” from The Last of the Mohicans.

Before you answer, three important caveats which I had also applied to my “rules” for thinking above on a “favorite” man character – why, for example, “Rick Blaine” in Casablanca cannot be your answer, but, say, “James Bond” or “Rhett Butler” could be:

1) “She” has to have begun “life” as a literary character in a novel or a short story. One written for a film or a TV show disqualifies the character from consideration. For if the first place “she” is “seen” is not in a book but in a film or on TV, the woman portraying “her” on screen is immediately synonymous in your mind with that fictional character.

2) If you are a writer, it cannot be one of your own characters!

3) Super-heroines and similar comic book graphic novel, video game, and sci-fi fantasies DEFINITELY don’t count either. So, no, “Wonder Woman” is NOT a valid choice. Why? Because in this case “she” has to be a “real woman.” For goodness sakes, stop being “fourteen” years old for a minute and grow up.😂

And have a good day, wherever you are in our real world. 🙂

6 replies »

  1. Your post highlights a flaw in the thinking of a lot of newbie writers who believe they need to write in the first person singular, in order to hook readers and get them to “identify” with the main character. Readers are not looking for a character with whom they can identify, because they already have their own well-established real identities. They are looking for vicarious experiences, but in the “fly on the wall” sense. If readers can suspend disbelief well enough to become unseen, on-scene observers of a story’s plausibly written events, and the characters are well developed, readers are likely to “fall in love” with a character of the opposite sex to the readers’ own.

    Cora Munro is a great choice for a male reader’s affections. As a female reader, I admired her. Of the collected “Leatherstocking Tales,” I think Cooper did his best job of portraying Natty Bumppo in The Last of the Mohicans, although he’s not my top favorite male character. That’s Edward Fairfax Rochester (Jane Eyre). Other also-ran’s include Peter Blood (Captain Blood), Rhett Butler (GWTW), Charles Ranier (Random Harvest), Hugh Conway (Lost Horizon), J. D. Durrance (Now, Voyager), Marcellus Gallio (The Robe), and for the coming-of-age set, David Shane (O, The Brave Music) and Huckleberry Finn (eponymous). I never cared for Mr. Darcy.

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  2. My husband hates Mr Darcy. He also hates my male protagonist too.😉 He says all women like b***ards (pardon my French), but I think that’s an oversimplification. I think ‘some’ women are endeared to misunderstood/enegmatic types… 🤔

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