And so I wanted to say just a bit more about it, especially idea #6 – swapping the gender to make a male character female without changing anything else about the role.
Just today, I turned in the submission draft of The Younger Gods, the first book in a new Urban Fantasy series with Pocket Books.
The book has a substantial cast, but my favorite character in the book might have to be Dorothea, one of The Broadway Knights (a secret society that protects the homeless of New York City from threats mundane and supernatural). And here’s why that’s relevant. When I first created Dorothea, her name was Graham, and she was male.
I wrote Graham for about 15-20K words of the book, then decided the character would be cooler, and the cast more balanced, if Graham were a woman. I wrote the rest of the novel with Dorothea in the role, and when it came time for revisions, I went back to change the pronouns and tweak the physical description of the character. And that was it.
When I re-cast Graham as Dorothea, the character felt more distinct, more compelling, just because I’d re-approached the role, challenged my assumptions, and taken the extra step. I hope readers will approve of the results. And when I write my next novel, I’ll be on the lookout for other characters that I could flip gender-wise or re-interpret as people of color to make sure I’m writing a more diverse, more representative cast.