Tuesday, March 8, 2016

An Essential Question to Ask When Writing Teenage Male Characters

What is his relationship with his dad?

Having taught teenagers for over a decade, I have noticed a deep truth with my male students. Their sense of self is deeply tied to their relationships with their dads. I know it sounds obvious, but I'm still surprised how frequently their fathers come up in them defining who they are. My female students talk more about their moms (often as a "best friend"), but don't seem to be as desperate for a connection to/define themselves through/etc. as much.

Even in the literature I teach, so many of the male characters are haunted (in Hamlet's case it's quite literal) by their fathers' wishes. 

As I've been thinking about this, I think I need to go back through all of my male characters (even minor ones) and really consider the backstory of their relationships with their fathers, and from here on out I want to do a quickwrite on that relationship when I create a character. I probably won't use any of the quickwrite, but I need to consider the question more deeply if I want to flesh out my male characters more. 

Some sub-questions to consider:
*Is his dad in his life?
*How often does he see his dad?
*How many minutes per day (on average) do they talk?
*How does his dad treat his mom?
*How does his dad treat women in general?
*Is his dad in a career he likes?
*Does his dad consider himself "successful"?
*Does he consider his dad "successful"?
*When is his dad most proud of him?
*Does his dad have any unfulfilled dreams he is putting on his son?
*Is his dad happy?
*When does he do his best bonding with his dad? What are they doing at the time?
*If his dad is not in the picture, who is the closest he has to a "father figure" and how do these questions relate to him?
*Is his dad religious? Political? 
*What does he see as the way he is similar to his dad?
*How does he differentiate himself from his father?
*Does he feel loved by his father?
*What does he desperately hope to do differently than his father? 
*What does the family name mean to him?
My dad, brothers, and husband at my wedding

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