Friday, 1 January 2010

Literary success

Overnight we had snow for New Year's
Eve. I'm feeding the hungry birds, who desperately need sustenance to see them through the long cold nights, and hope the snow doesn't last long. There's ice under the new layer, which makes walking pretty treacherous.
Thinking back to yesterday's post about rave reviews favouring male writers, I suppose it is silly to deny an interest difference between men and women's reading habits. Would we not look askance at men who read nothing but chick lit? Or women who read only war stories and long, gory battle scenes ? Answer truthfully now, leaving all prejudice aside!
Authors are told to know their target audience. Therefore, it seems natural that women tend to write for women, and men for men, but somewhere among the multitude of books published every year there are novels aimed at a sort of androgynous middle ground - and they often do very well.
I'd put Wolf Hall in that band, and many of the books about which reviewers write glowing reviews. The Book Thief, and Robert Goddard's novels. (Once I've got my hands on Wolf Hall, I may have to revise that opinion, but from what I've heard so far....) It occurs to me that Pride and Prejudice sits there, too, for it is almost as much Darcy and Bingley's story as that of the Bennet sisters. Would anyone agree on that?
So perhaps the trick is not to write purely from the perspective of either gender, but to be fair and even-handed with the characters and their different gender viewpoints. In doing so, the book might then appeal to both sexes.
Happily it occurs to me that I am attempting exactly this in my latest wip, so I'll let you know what happens!


Carolin said...

I think your current WIP treats the genders quite equably - it should appeal to both.

Before I read that article, I really didn't give it much thought myself, but in retrospect I'm kind of glad I chose the protagonist I did, not that I had much choice given the time period. While there were some interesting female characters (and I'll integrate them into the novel), they were often not part of the main events, society being what it was.

So, like you, I hope for appeal across gender lines, for it seems that's what it takes for a novel to be truly successful.... Include both romance and bloody battles, and you'll cover all the bases - and I know you dislike the bloody stuff *grin*

Jen Black said...

Yes, as I've grown older my stomach has weakened. Used to read all sorts of things I wouldn't touch now.

Linda Banche said...

There will still be sex lines along books no matter how fairly you treat the characters. As an example, I read an analysis that the Harry Potter books wouldn't have been nearly so successful if the lead character had been a girl. Young girls will read a book with a male lead, but young boys won't read a book with a female lead. The attitudes remain the same as they mature.

Jen Black said...

Linda, it's easy to say but harder to prove! and let's not forget Hermione as one of the trio of leads. The book certainly wouldn't have worked as well with Harry alone.

Linda Banche said...

Maybe, but I thought the books treated Hermione pretty badly sometimes.