Lesson Ten from a Manuscript Red Line: Girls Rule and Boys Drool

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?

Let me start out by stating… if your novel has a female protagonist… I HATE YOU.

Well, not really, but I’m jealous.  You don’t have to worry about a side-kick, because your Girl-Power is already there.  UGH!  This is annoying.

My BP and I actually had this conversation months ago.  We talked about how annoying it is that publishers all seem to want strong female characters only.  Well, at the same time, they are complaining that boys don’t read.  Go figure.

Both my BP and I have male MCs (main characters).  My BP at least already had a female side kick, but they actually asked her to beef her up and make her one of the main voice characters.  She’s working now on making her a more dynamic character.  I guess this is a good thing.  I like her.  She’s a tough cookie, but do we always have to have a girl?

Now, I am a girl, and I happen to like to read books about boys.  Boys tend to be stronger, and I don’t have to worry about annoying sappy emotional crap most of the time.  I’m wondering if more boys actually would read if there was a wider variety of decent novels out there that didn’t force-feed them GIRLS just so the novels would be marketable to a female audience as well.  Maybe publishers are shooting themselves in the foot by not letting girl-free novels into the shelves?  I guess we will never know.

Yeah, I have to admit that Meagan has gotten more and more page-time in my novel, but I’m trying hard not to let her take over.  I’m trying to have her be there, with her own ominous annoying girly agenda, without spoiling the overall plot line.  Meagan is a princess and is trying to find a loophole that will let her marry Magellan, a commoner.  This actually works in nicely, because it makes the villain (her brother) more and more angry and homicidal every time he sees them together.

Hopefully I don’t have to make her too much more integral than she already is.  I want to be published, but I want the story to be intact when I’m done as well.  The story is definitely about a confused boy with no memory that has to save the galaxy… It’s not a love story.

Anyway… the point of this all is that publishers are still looking for a strong female presence in works that they are supporting.  They simply don’t believe there is enough of a male market of readers out there to support a strictly male protagonist.  They said they realized that a writer should not focus on writing to the market only, but it is something that publishers must consider.



14 responses to “Lesson Ten from a Manuscript Red Line: Girls Rule and Boys Drool

  1. Pingback: Lesson Thirty from a Manuscript Red Line: Finale! Summing it all up | Jennifer M Eaton

  2. I normally write with females as a MC, any side kicks usually tend to be male as… (can’t say that). Except for The Setl’a which is totally dominated by females (sci-fi)/ of my two current WIP’s one female protaganist and male MC on the mystery and a Heroine on the SCiFi. I like mixing it up a little.

  3. Mm, monsterlong post is monsterlong.


    • Ha! I was reading your post, Canary, and I was thinking “They must have a male protag!” You certainly are opinionated!

      I love when I tap into something people take to heart. The conversations are great.

      I honestly agree… authors should write for themselves, and tell the story that they want to tell. They just need to be ready, knowing that their work might be a “tough sell” for some publishers.

  4. Mm, Eragon hit big a while back, and it wasn’t for the quality of writing. Name of the Wind by Rothfuss was a train wreck of a book, but amazingly popular. in the YA section, I remember the Alex Rider series and The Maze Runner (2009) is a dystopian fantasy that follows a male character named Thomas. I haven’t read I Am Number Four, but I believe that, despite the romantic subplot with a female, also has a main character who is male and spends most of the series kicking butt and making things explode (or maybe these are the movie trailers talking…)

    I am pretty sure that were I to go through recent fantasy and sci-fi releases, I’d find that quite a big proportion is still male-centric in its plot and main characters, with publishers working under the rather common assumption that girls will read anything, but boys are more picky. And that’s just the way people are.

    I’m not comfortable with this argument at all. It makes every imaginary hackle I have rise. I know plenty of guys who have no trouble enjoying books with female characters–and sometimes, characters with emotions too! Sexism is sexism, whether it comes in the form of attributing certain human characteristics to females and another set to males, or when it shrugs and says, “Boys won’t read books about girls or emotions”. Yeah, and everyone knows that girls don’t have the mental capacity to go to college and guys can’t be kindergarten teachers.

    Maybe this kind of approach to character writing makes sense when applied to the business of selling books, but I don’t think we should ever overlook the fact that it’s a social construction.

    If we buy into the fact that we must make this character a female because we need someone emotional and flighty, and this other character must be buff, brave, and brash–well, we’re buying into those stereotypes. Characters should be painfully human, and stories should be well written.

    A complete aside: I was browsing through Goodreads, looking around at the different titles, and I thought of the perfect example of a writer walking the line. Terry Pratchett is one of the few writers who can pull of characters of either gender.

  5. I like how you’ve beefed up you heroine so far. I think the changes are positive.

    I agree that we need more boy stuff out there. That’s why I wrote my novelthe way I did… for my kids. So far the girl additions aren’t bothering my son too much.

  6. That never occured to me. I’ll read a book whether its a male or female protagonist. And even if you have a strong female lead, they still need a side-kick or two…(Buffy had the Scoobie Gang!). Come to think of it, guys will watch shows with lead female characters, so why can’t they read books with a female protag? That being said, I don’t mind and would love to read more books with male protags.

  7. My current novels do have women at the center of the story, but there are strong male characters, too. But none of my characters are “tough” in the sense of physical exploits. My POV switches from female to male occasionally, but the first-person narrative voice is the primary female.

    Probably guys wouldn’t be drawn to my books…except one of the books I’ve already published has a guy who is a stalker and a few teen bad boys.

  8. Pingback: ASWIFTT PUBLISHING, LLC Is Now Taking Manuscript Submissions « ASWIFTT RADIO's Blog

  9. You have some interesting thoughts. I have a female protagonist that is strong. I write adventure crime that takes place in the mountains. I lived in Panorama, B.C. for over 5 years and met so many women there that are the strong, outdoor type, that it didn’t occur to me not to have a female antagonist. She seemed right for the story I wanted to write. I do have male characters, and write from more than one point of view, but I like my main character.

  10. I agree 100%. Most boys don’t want the sappy, sissy stuff. I guess if you look at Harry Potter, though, Hermione was a very strong female secondary without her being a girly girl. Jenny wasn’t a girly girl either, but there were a few sprinkled in to make the stories funny. Guys ate up Harry Potter.

    But I wanted something different than HP. My fantasy world is a world pretty much dominated by men. It’s medieval in its basic form. There’s war, blood shed, beheadings, dragons and sorcerers. Boy stuff. My female secondary had an unusual role in the beginning, but I was informed this role might leave readers feeling squeemish. So, I had to change her, slightly, but still…I have to wonder if it would really make the reader squirm. I guess I’ll never know.

    I think more boys would read if there was more boy-focused stuff out there for them to read. Think Percy Jackson on steroids. Artemus Fowl as an 18-year old. I’d love to see some Dystopians from the guy’s point of view. Shake things up a bit.

    But that’s somewhere in the future. For now, I’ll make the changes as noted and hopefully gain the interest of an agent or publisher. That is my ultimate dream come true.