Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The One-Letter Sex Change

I have a dilemma: My nip1 is too male-centric.

I have no misconceptions about my audience; this book will always appeal more to men than women.2 My problem is that it’s currently weighted too far toward the y-chromosome side of things. I’d prefer a little more balance.

Though my nip3 features some strong women who are integral to the plot, they are primarily secondary characters. The book has an ensemble cast of sorts, but by the time I finish my first draft, only 4 of the 40 chapters will be from a woman’s (third-person) perspective. Even worse, only two of those will remain once I begin the rewrite, since I’ll be demoting a superfluous character to an extra and relieving her of her narration.

Perhaps my fears are unwarranted, but I feel I need a prominent female character the fairer half of my readership4 can connect with. I toyed with the idea of introducing a new character, but I might have already reached the saturation point. Giving a secondary character more page-time was another option, but I couldn’t figure out how to do so without bloating or completely changing the story. In the end, I hit upon a simple, elegant solution.

I use a police detective’s perspective for five of the chapters, and he plays a significant role in some of the pivotal scenes. That’s going to change, though. Not the importance or the number of chapters. The he. With one stroke of the keyboard, I shall forever alter the detective’s worldview.

I’m already beginning to see the possibilities: A newly minted detective trying to prove herself, her motivations and reactions — and others’ perceptions of her — defined in part by her gender. Not only will this add nuance and depth to a character who until now was rather one-dimensional, but I also believe my novel will be better for it.

Instant improvement.

Just add S.

1 Novel in progress. And yes, that’s the last time I’ll call it that.
2 It's the possibility of political assassination they go for. That and invisible monkeys.
3 Yeah, I lied.
4 Women and Swedes.


  1. Invisible monkeys AND attempted political assassination? Hmm...I'm intrigued? If only to learn what invisible monkeys eat. Is it invisible bananas? Please tell me it's invisible bananas.

  2. Invisible bananas? Come on, Kyle. There's no such thing as invisible bananas.