A Novel for Women?
Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Have you ever read a story where the author knocked you out of engagement with constant reminders that the lead character isn't you? Perhaps it was her gorgeous flaming red hair, green eyes, ample bosom, or hourglass figure. Unless the reader has those specific attributes, the character becomes external, someone worthy of having a grand adventure while the reader stays home. The minimal description of Cassandra is in The Stain is intentional. She is beautiful because she looks like you.
A literary agent once told me not describing the lead character "just isn't done," and worse, it would be the "kiss of death." Oh really? My heart beat faster with excitement because that's when I knew I was onto something really important.
We are accustomed to reading books written by men for male audiences. That was the old industry standard and the one most women writers have adopted. Men tend to be visually oriented, so female characters must always be described. Women must also be attractive to men in specific ways to earn inclusion in a romantic story. This limiting paradigm is overdue for change.
The Stain provides an immersive experience for female readers. Leaving out a detailed character description is one difference. Writing in first-person is also unusual and "not done." And yet, isn't a first-hand account far more intimate and engaging than a remote all-knowing God-like perspective?
Can men read The Stain? Of course. Maybe men will enjoy taking an experiential ride as Cassandra. They can also fill the visual gaps themselves. People are far more intelligent and creative than the industry standard supposes. Why not give readers the freedom to co-create the story? Isn't that the fun part of reading?
Photo courtesy of the Wix image gallery.