Thursday, 23 December 2010

Men and Women - Mars and Venus?

I usually try to avoid gender generalisations - I think people are people, and the similarities between the sexes outweigh any differences.  Recently I was asked to take part in a debate about writing about sex, and was scouting around for examples of good sex writing.  A (male) friend suggested a passage from John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River so I had a look at it.  

The characters - former lovers - are talking in the front of a pick-up truck, and things are developing from there.  Yes, it's well written but I could have guessed it was written by a man, and appreciated by a man.  One of them (the woman) has her hunting rifle with her and where a woman writer might have written in detail about what she was wearing, John Irving gives us lots of detail about the gun.  I did wonder if it was an elaborate metaphor for something else, but came to conclusion that no, it was just a gun.  

There's no doubting that men like facts and machines in a way that women generally don't.  Similarly, women like reading what another male friend calls 'the soppy stuff'.  When I read War and Peace as a teenager I remember skipping all the battle stuff but lapping up Pierre and Natasha's story.  Perhaps that's where great literary works score - they have a balance between female and male appealing qualities. 

Hmm.  Right - off to put some facts and machines in the WIP! 


Lara said...

Thank you for the recent posts. The one about questioning plot points was useful, and I shall use this for my WIP and the "pitch" one too.

Sarah Duncan said...

Thanks Lara, glad you found them useful. Have a Happy Christmas!