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  #1    
Old November 12th, 2012, 07:53 AM
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1. When writing a fiction how do you decide gender? Is it ever symbolic, is it random, or is it whatever yours is?

2. What about side characters? Is there always a certain amount of characters of a certain gender or do you also make this random?

3. Finally my question: How would one go about keeping gender anonymous? I don't want to tell the exact gender of the main character.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khawill View Post
1. When writing a fiction how do you decide gender? Is it ever symbolic, is it random, or is it whatever yours is?

2. What about side characters? Is there always a certain amount of characters of a certain gender or do you also make this random?

3. Finally my question: How would one go about keeping gender anonymous? I don't want to tell the exact gender of the main character.
1. If it's not predetermined (ie if I am writing a canon character) then I suppose it is just simply what I think the character happens to be like in my mind, which is possibly a kinda random process. =p 'Oh I guess this one is like ___, is female, etc'. I can't say I ever used gender to be symbolic.

2. With minor characters this is most certainly random; I didn't in particular try to have only male or female characters as extras in say my chaptered fic, but then it really didn't matter much with them with what gender they had.

3. Just being careful with your description, I suppose. It's possibly more suited to other points of view, e.g. 1st or even 2nd (where the gender is the reader), but basically avoid telling the reader details that may suggest one gender over the other (e.g. 'wearing a dress' which'd be usually suggesting female), and the usual he/she/her/his/etc descriptors. Try not to overdo relying on 'it' instead though as that can be too repetitive.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 05:53 PM
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1. When writing a fiction how do you decide gender? Is it ever symbolic, is it random, or is it whatever yours is?
I think making gender symbolic in your standard, every day, non-philosophical fic is a mite pretentious (without good reason, of course). As far as I'm concerned, gender's a completely random, natural phenomenon. What you need to worry about is gender-balance and the characterization of genders.

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2. What about side characters? Is there always a certain amount of characters of a certain gender or do you also make this random?
Whatever works, really. I like to have a good distribution of genders, but it usually comes naturally. I don't plan out the gender of every minor character and what that might symbolize.

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Finally my question: How would one go about keeping gender anonymous? I don't want to tell the exact gender of the main character.
Basically what Bobandbill said. But if you really have to go for a 3rd person POV, try not to be preferential towards a single pronoun. It's actually quite hard, imo, to have a 3rd person protagonist of unknown gender, that's also not one-dimensional. People are usually characterized by internalized gender norms, so they tend to act like one gender or the other. It's all fine and well to keep gender under wraps, but eventually their mannerisms could betray the secret. Your best bet, I think, is to flat-out reference the ambiguity in the beginning and continue with either a preferentially masculine/feminine character. The latter mostly to make the main character seem human, I suppose. It does wonders for likeability. Acting like you don't have a gender makes you seem like a one-dimensional robot, barring of course Asimovian examples, but even then the more developed of Asimov's robots tend to gravitate towards a specific gender norm.
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Old November 16th, 2012, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
1. When writing a fiction how do you decide gender? Is it ever symbolic, is it random, or is it whatever yours is?
It depends on what the character comes to mind as, if it's not a canon character. I never think of something specific for symbolism.

Quote:
2. What about side characters? Is there always a certain amount of characters of a certain gender or do you also make this random?
Random again. I do try to keep some balance though. Like if I need a minor character, I might think back to what I've used before so I don't start to develop a trend.

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3. Finally my question: How would one go about keeping gender anonymous? I don't want to tell the exact gender of the main character.
I read a book where this was done for a semi-main character. The book was in third-person limited POV, and all the authors did was refer to the character by their title.

Really, it depends on the POV you want to write in. Some are easier than others to keep the ambiguity, particularly with the main character.
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Old November 16th, 2012, 04:21 PM
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I'm going to be a crazy one and say that my story actually determines what sex I pick for the main character. I love putting my characters through hell, I'm pretty sadistic with storylines, and depending on the story I try to find which one would be more of a challenge for which sex, if it's relevant.

For the most part I like a Miyazaki look on it and believe that all challenges make it equal, but if I'm writing about the Middle Ages or a society where women are oppressed, then I tend to lean on female leads. I like to write about male leads if they're conflicting with masculinity and trying to fight the mold laid out that men should be physically strong, decisive, etc. but for the most part I find it easier to write about girls for obvious reasons.

For side characters, I try to find who complements the main character the most. I like contrast here, similarities there, etc. Honestly I don't think that's a good way to really decide side characters, but it's how I do it.

And for writing with anonymity of the protagonist's sex, use "they" instead of "he/she?" I really don't know how that one would work out.
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Old November 26th, 2012, 01:52 PM
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1. I'm biased and most of the time my main character is male, especially for an adventure type of story. A heroin usually just does not feel right to me. Is that stranger or does anyone else feel that way?

2. Side character are random, gender depends on how the personality feels in my head.

3. You could always pick a gender neutral name and just refer to that, maybe.
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Old November 28th, 2012, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by EvilSkittles View Post
1. I'm biased and most of the time my main character is male, especially for an adventure type of story. A heroin usually just does not feel right to me. Is that stranger or does anyone else feel that way?
I used to be that way when I was little even though I was a girl, mostly because the adventure books I read were disproportionately about boys. It's not strange, but it isn't good.

A while ago I started doing a thing where every time my brain is going to make a character male or female, I stop and try switching them to the other gender in my head. Often I actually like them better that way. It's a good thing to do; the lack of developed female characters in fiction is largely because authors unconsciously perpetuate the disparity by making characters male by default unless their role is gendered female (e.g. love interest, damsel in distress). The best way to fight the tendency is to break the mold consciously until there's enough fictional precedent for the unconscious bias to fade.

As for anonymous gender, that's best done naturally in first person. If you're avoiding gendered pronouns in third person, it can easily get conspicuous and fake, unless the narrator explicitly describes the character as being of ambiguous gender and uses "he or she" or "the figure" in a genuinely uncertain way.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 10:08 AM
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1. I'd have to say, honestly, that I haven't found that gender truly matters, except for maybe in extreme circumstances. (Tough, I'll admit that I've restarted whole drafts from scratch simply because one scene I've decided upon would be more hilarious if a character was one gender over the other.) If I can help it, I'll try to use whichever would fit the whole storyline best, though I am, honestly, pretty biased towards using females.

2. For side characters, It's definitely random, again, whichever gender I find to be more ironic or ridiculous for the situation. If I'm writing, say, drama though, it's completely random, just dependant on what I write.

3. I can't say I've ever tried this, but I agree with Skittles that gender neutral names are probably largely helpful. It can also be used, but sparingly, or perhaps even not at all, and can be substituted for "the person" or something like that!
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Old January 7th, 2013, 12:35 PM
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1. When writing a fiction how do you decide gender? Is it ever symbolic, is it random, or is it whatever yours is?
Generally a character will just pop into my head and already have a gender. My main OC in my currently writing is heavily based on myself, thus she's female. However, in my last series my main OC was male, as was a majority of the cast.

2. What about side characters? Is there always a certain amount of characters of a certain gender or do you also make this random?
Most of the time it's random, but other times not. Sometimes if I want to add tension, relationships, etc - gender will play heavily into that. Given the plot of my story and gender roles I grew up learning IRL, I'm thinking a majority of my cast will be male once again.

3. Finally my question: How would one go about keeping gender anonymous? I don't want to tell the exact gender of the main character.
IMHP, I hate it when people leave out huge facts about main OCs. I think you could do a cross dresser, but completely leaving out gender would personally not work for me, I generally reflect genders on characters when they're introduced, so I'd just apply a gender to them and keep going.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 06:37 PM
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1. When writing a fiction how do you decide gender? Is it ever symbolic, is it random, or is it whatever yours is?

It depends. Usually I have male leads since I'm a guy myself. But I have female leads too - I like strong female characters. I tend to have multiple main characters, usually a mixture of males and females. Often, I invert gender stereotypes - my male leads tend to be more cultured and level-headed, while my female leads are more outspoken and adventurous.

2. What about side characters? Is there always a certain amount of characters of a certain gender or do you also make this random?

I always try to avoid the "Smurfette principle" by including plenty of female characters. Only once did I write a fanfic with no female characters. I try to make the gender an even split. Even if it's a historical war story, I include plenty of women. (I don't write war stories that are purely combatic in nature for that reason.) The WWII story that I'm working on has quite a few women.

I love female villains, so I usually have at least one in stories. One of my fanfic novels has three - an evil emperor's wife, the emperor's evil advisor, and a succubus.

I have a tendency for making older siblings female and younger siblings male, since I have an older sister and no other siblings. Most of my male leads are the youngest child in their family. Usually they have an older sister (or sometimes an older brother as well).

With animal characters, I often go for the gender less represented in fiction. I usually have male cats and female dogs, because in most media, the cats are female and the dogs are male (although the poodles are usually female). If it's an animal where both genders are equally common in fiction, like rabbits and dolphins, it's totally random.

3. Finally my question: How would one go about keeping gender anonymous? I don't want to tell the exact gender of the main character. A gender-neutral name is the only thing I can think of. I like everyone having a gender.
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