girl writes boy

Girl Writes Boy . . . Bad Idea?


Dear Editor…

I write both non-fiction picture books and boy-centric middle grade novels. I publish the non-fiction under my full name, but should I consider using initials for the novels, since I’m not the same gender as the MC? Will it matter to the reader?

Thank you for your thoughts on this!

Dear Alison…

Plenty of ladies write male narratives, and vice versa. Don’t sweat that—not for MG fiction, anyway. Now, if you were a guy writing a female lead in a romance for adult women… but that’s another marketplace altogether. Don’t hide your gender. The protagonist for my 1st person MG novel Big Mouth is a boy, and my very girly name is emblazoned across the cover. If anything, the question “Can a girl write a convincing boy?” is great fodder for discussion when I’m presenting to classes. Many people advocate writing what you don’t know. Just confirm that your character’s sensibility is convincingly male by having some fellas read your manuscript. They’ll let you now if your dude’s choices or judgments are too girly.

Happy writing!
The Editor