As you may already know, the first book in the FURY series features a dual-POV (point-of-view) narrative; both Em and Chase tell the story. I chose to write both POVs from a close-third-person perspective (also called Limited Third Person). In other words, the reader experiences the world as the protagonists do -- we are privy to their thoughts, feelings, observations -- without the intimacy that a first-person "I" narrative would provide. There's a great round-up of posts on third-person POV at Becky Levine's blog. Katy Upperman has one here, too - including a side-by-side comparison of the same paragraph written from first- and third-person POVs.
While screwing into Close Third Person (CTP) and staying there can be difficult for me as a writer (sometimes I drift too far away from the protagonist, getting into an omniscient/outside-perspective zone), the bigger challenge has been writing in a male voice. Because CTP does require you to relay experiences as the character perceives them. How Em sees a school pep rally is very different from how Chase sees it. They notice different things. Pay attention to different people. Are conscious of their own (different) insecurities. I am not describing the pep rally. I am describing Em's pep rally and Chase's pep rally. As James Scott Bell says at Right-Writing.com, "Done well, [Limited Third Person] can be nearly as intimate as First Person."
And while I'm relatively confident conveying the female POV (at least Em's, especially because we share some traits and sensibilities), making sure that I understood Chase's mind was a crucial, and sometimes difficult, part of the writing process.
Chase has a lot of pent-up frustrations -- frankly, he's often angry. He's dismissive, but that's a defense mechanism against his deep feelings of inadequacy. You can see in the ways he interacts with his mother that he has a softer side. I've felt all those emotions -- frustration, fear, bitterness, insecurity, love -- but I didn't want to convey them as I've experienced them.
Some say that writing from the perspective of another gender is as simple as writing any non-autobiographical character. So, it should be as simple/challenging for me to write from the perspective of a female astronaut as from that of a male teenager. Not so, I say!
Without wanting to generalize about "how guys act" or "how girls talk," I will say that to find Chase's voice, I worked to: 1) erect a thick emotional wall around him; 2) treat breaches of that wall as attacks; 3) deflect discomfort with humor -- sometimes of the un-funny variety. In attempting to access a guy-specific frame of mind, I also observed male friends/family/co-workers to identify realistic traits, behaviors, and verbal patterns that worked for Chase. Note: I'm not saying girls don't use humor as a protective measure! I'm not saying that girls are walking balls of raw emotion! But I am suggesting that in my experience, teenage guys tend to be more closed off, and more aggressive in their interactions. (Not really related but kind of: there's lots of interesting info about boys and their brains here.)
Matthew Dicks wrote a great post about writing an opposite-gender protagonist over at Beyond the Margins today. (I'm particularly interested in what he says about compartmentalizing.)
While ENVY alternates between two female POVs, Book Three -- which I'm working on right now -- returns to the male/female juxtaposition. It's even harder this time around!
Here's why: The male character in Book Three (I'm not comfortable sharing who it is, yet) is quite different from Chase. Yet I found myself, at first, writing them very similarly. The way they interact with girls, for instance, or their inner monologues -- both were coming out as gruff or distant. I was informing this male protagonist's prose the same way I had Chase's -- even though they are totally different people. I think what happened was that because he, too, is male and therefore OTHER, I was falling into a pattern I set while writing FURY.
Now that I've identified that dilemma, the writing is coming much easier. I'm still clicking into what I call "male-mind" when I write Book Three's dude prose. But I keep in mind that just because he is A BOY doesn't mean that he thinks the same way Chase (or anyone else) would. I guess the big takeaway from all this (because every blog post needs one, right?) is that EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. EVEN BOYS.