I am reading Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson. I have no idea if this is his firstbook, but it is pretty good. Right off the bat there are flying bullets, ghosts, trouble with coworkers and a female ex. It is also urban fantasy, and like many other urban fantasies, it is written in the 1st person POV.
That was the problem right there. In the 1st person, the main character is not “he” or “she”; the main character is always “I”. “I” does not give you an clues into the gender of a character. I thought the main character of this book was a woman! Can you blame me? Most urban fantasies have women main characters. Yes, there was a female ex, but I thought that just meant the main character was gay or bi. Most stories these days have gay secondary characters and a few even have gay or bi main characters. So it is not such a stretch. Well, I don’t think it is.
Imagine my shock when I discovered the main character is a man. Probably, I would have been less shocked if I had bothered to read the back blurb, but this book was recommended to me by someone I trust (someone who didn’t mention the maleness of the main character!!!). The cover should have been a clue as well. But it shouldn’t depend on the cover and back cover blurb.
As a reader, the gender of the main character should be obvious to me from the beginning, regardless of POV (unless the writer is playing games and the main character is androgynous on purpose).
As a writer, I always know the gender of my characters. Expressing that in the 1st POV, in a way that is smooth and not obvious, is more difficult. Trent Jamieson probably knew the gender of his main character before he started writing. I don’t know why I concluded that the main character is female, except to say that I was expecting a female main character. Maybe that’s enough, but it is not really satisfactory. I wish I could point to one thing in the first few pages that could make me believe the MC was female.
- Quick: How many POVs in an “I” narrative? (alanrinzler.com)
- NaNoWriMo Workshop – Point of View (writeanything.wordpress.com)