The Spawn is working on a story, and we were talking about it a little bit over the weekend. At one point, she said, “All the protagonists I’ve written have been female, but I think the protagonist of this one should be a guy. But how do you write someone of the opposite sex?”
I considered running a variation on Jack Nicholson’s bit from As Good as It Gets:
… because really, when someone puts it on the tee like that, it’s hard to resist. However, I decided it would be better not to have to sleep with one eye open, so I thought about it a bit and said, “Well, I think the problem might be that you’re trying to write A Guy.
“Remember [story I wrote recently with a young woman as protagonist]?” Nods. “Well, [Protagonist] was basically a version of my mom. I can’t claim to know WOMEN, but I knew your grandmother, and I could write a version of her in my fictional place, time, and situation.
“So don’t just try to write about A Guy. Write about some guy in particular. Change what you need to change for your story — Bob down the hall might not actually be a computer expert or a car mechanic or whatever, but even if he was, he would still mainly be Bob. So don’t write A Guy; write Bob.”
“Thanks, Dad.” So now I expect the Spawn to write a story featuring a middle-aged, overweight English professor who just happens to be an accomplished martial artist who is considered a god on an obscure South Pacific island. And who, of course, is devilishly handsome.