Perspective from the opposite sex

I recently read an article reminding writers to keep a realistic perspective in your charter’s point of view. It reminded female writers that men don’t notice the ecru petticoat fluttering gently against burnished-umber boots.

True enough. But then, while I was reading a book with a romantic element last week, the hero started describing the gal with intense detail. It was beautiful–but at one point I flipped to the cover, thinking “how did she get away with the male character thinking like this?”

Only then did I realize that the book was written by a man. Every scene, not just the amorous ones, were surprisingly emotive.

As a teenager, the two authors I read most were Jack London and John Steinbeck. One story, The Sea-Wolf, has a romance thread but it is from a man’s perspective. I will never forget when the main character describes the girl’s hands and fingernails, I remember thinking, “Boys look at girl’s fingernails?!”

I suppose female writers can go too far the other way when they try to write a male character who is realistic in their mind…making him dense, unfeeling, insensitive, thick-headed, single minded… I can’t remember where I was going with that.

Would you rather read a book from the perspective of the opposite sex–or keep your assumptions secure?

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