It is my pleasure to bring you this guest post by the ever interesting and informative, Susan Kaye Quinn, who today celebrates the release of her latest novel, Closed Hearts, the 2nd book in the Mindjack series. Congrats, Susan!
By Susan Kaye Quinn
I've talked before about Thinking vs. Feeling, and Sherrie brought up an excellent point: boy characters think/feel differently than girl characters.
First, let's not stereotype: boys certainly have feelings just as much as girls do, and your character should be true to who THEY are more than what their gender is. But, in general, what boys do with feelings can be quite different from girls, and accurately portraying that in words on a page is the key to a realistic character.
Here's a girl thinking (Ever in Evermore, contemplating a small lie to her friends): They're making such a big deal I'm thinking it's my only way out. Only I can't. Not to them. Haven and Miles are my best friends. My only friends. And I feel like I'm keeping enough secrets already.
Here's a boy thinking (Cassel in White Cat, having just nearly fallen off the roof): I laugh with relief, even though I am shaking so badly that climbing is out of the question. Cold makes my fingers numb. The adrenaline rush makes my brain sing.
Here's a girl thinking like a boy (Katniss in Hunger Games, ruminating about how she didn't kill Buttercup the cat, because of her beloved sister Prim): But Prim begged so hard, cried even, I had to let him stay. It turned out okay...Sometimes when I clean a kill, I feed Buttercup the entrails. He has stopped hissing at me. Entrails. No hissing. This is the closest we will ever come to love.
Girl-like characters tend to think and react in terms of relationships: they ponder (sometimes a lot); they agonize; they contemplate feelings: theirs and other people's.
Boy-like characters think more in terms of action, cause and effect, connecting the emotion to the outcome, rather than how they feel about it.
These are generalizations, of course. Your Character May Vary. But here's a back-to-back example of how I would write a scene from a girl POV and a boy POV.
Boy: I sprinted down the street, dodging early morning sprinklers. I was going to be late. Again. Mr. Spencer was sure to give me a tardy and another note with a fake signature wouldn't cut it this time. Spencer would kick me out of Trill Academy for sure. I slowed my pace. No sense in hurrying to my doom. I kicked a hose draped across the sidewalk and imagined it was Spencer.
Girl: I sprinted down the street, narrowly keeping out of the sprinkler. If I was late this time, Mr. Spencer would have my head. He's hated me ever since I pointed out his error that time in Geometry. I clenched my fists. It wasn't fair. I worked so hard to get in, and Spencer would kick me out of Trill with the slightest excuse. I stumbled over a hose draped across the sidewalk and came to a stop. I wouldn't give Spencer the pleasure of seeing me come in all flustered and red faced. I straightened my shirt and leisurely strolled on.
Of course, this scene would play differently for different characters with different backgrounds, and I think the most important thing is to stay true to your character.
Do you write boy or girl POV's? Do you incorporate emotions differently for each?
When you control minds, only your heart can be used against you.
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA novel Open Minds, Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy, which is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. The sequel Closed Hearts has just been released. Susan's business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist," but she mostly plays on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
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