Writing can't only be a mirror

illustration of age and ethnicity

When I was a teenager I had no idea what it felt like to be sixty, or even thirty. Now I’m older I am told sometimes that I can’t possibly connect with the mindset of a younger generation. Frankly I think both opinions are misjudged.

We have imagination
Anyone who is astute and observes those around them cannot possibly be restricted to writing within their own age group, gender, ethnicity and sexuality. If that were the case then every novel would only contain one generation of characters who look, act and think alike.

The only limit to our writing should be our powers of observation, the breadth of our reading, the ability to listen and our imagination.

Gender fluidity in creative writing

Flip book for children

A man writing women’s fiction?

I am a man writing women’s commercial fiction. I never set out to trespass into a genre that is usually written ‘by women’ and ‘for women’, it just happened.

When I was a child we had flip books that showed us how bizarre gender stereotyping is. They don’t exist now in the same simplistic format, I presume because the gender specific portrayals they were based on are no longer acceptable. But if your based the characters on a man baking a cake, a female firefighter, a male nurse and a businesswoman, maybe it would still work – or maybe not.

I am just setting out the plot of a new novel, set around one hundred years in the future and the protagonist is not only female, but a teenager – as is the second most prominent character. This novel has a working title of Hannah’s Island. I plan to post the way the idea grows each week – without giving away the plot I hope.

Does everyone, except autobiographers, write outside their own personal experience?