Writing Without Revealing Gender

Monday, May 01, 2006

Question:

Anyone have any tips for writing about someone without revealing their gender? My character's gender is supposed to be a surprise. In my fight to avoid using "she" or "he," I've resorted to using a lot of "it"s and this has made my writing bland.

Would it work to make the reader think my character is the opposite sex by using pronouns of the opposite sex, and then surprise them? Somehow, that seems like cheating to me.

Any ideas?


Answer:

Tip-1:

How bout writing in first person?

Tip-2:

Well my advice is that by saying "it", the reader might thing you are referring to, not to be immature, a "he-she". I have a few alternatives
Instead of

she shot the gun and killed all of the Martians on the planet.
You can put....
I shot the gun and killed all of the Martians on the planet.

OR
The soldier shot the gun and killed all of the Martians on the planet.
^ I hope you get that one, I couldn't really explain it.


Tip-3:

Some people like to withhold demographic information when talking about a character that has some quirks that go against stereotypes... To prove a point or something.
Like perhaps a story about a person who's the best wrestler in their division, but at the end... She's a GIRL OMGsurprise!!11 (For example, a story from Chris Crutcher's "Athletic Shorts")
I think it's kind of lame and cliche and is a sign of a story-teller who has to rely more on surprise and shock value to be effective.

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