Monday, June 17, 2013

Manners Monday: Sex and Gender

Since we all love Mondays and we Grandma decided to teach us the difference between a Bouillon spoon and a Grapefruit spoon and how to properly sit with our legs crossed rather than what we really need to know (all things writing and publishing), Mondays are dedicated to all things we need to know. You may not want to learn them, you may not want to learn them, but that book on your head will be put to better use, I promise you.  I'll bring to you common mistakes I think writers should just know, from grammar to word choice to how to properly sit in your chair at a conference pitch session without scaring the agent across from you. Tips range from first-grade knowledge politeness to Master's Degree expertise in grammar.

Sex and Gender

Here's one that I love and, people who try their hand at writing paranormal when they are not overly familiar with the genre, tend to make a lot (I'm looking at the millions of people who tried their own Twilight type many years ago when it was cool).

A man is a man and a woman is a woman. Right?

Not when that man is a werewolf or that woman is a vampire.

What makes a paranormal world so rich is the unique language each author creates. I'm not talking about creating a 5,000 page lexicon and inventing Klingon (though that particular fame to claim would be rockin'). Go back to the basics, question what you know and were taught at an early age. Imagine a people who were raised so differently, the way they refer to themselves is radically different: she is not a girl or woman or even a lady, she is a female, a young, a sorceress, a pup, a muggle (a word which my spell check still does not recognize; I find that very sad), a unit of measurement, etc, etc. 

But calling someone a man or male doesn't extend just to the awesome genre of Paranormal or Fantasy or SciFi (or what have you). It applies to our feline and canine friends as well (the non-shape-shifting kind). In a normal world, contemporary fiction for example, you refer to a girl cat as a "female." You can call a human girl a female, but we have a more correct term for it: "woman."

So all I am saying is, if your human is of the non-magical persuasion, call a pear a pear: man and woman. If your person-shaped creature is of the fantastical persuasion, male and female are much more apt. Beyond that, call them as you want, apples, oranges, and otherwise.

If you completely disagree, that's okay! Make it part of your world. Have rules.

What is your favorite non-human term for a man or woman (and from where)?

Happy writing!