The debate about whether the gender of writers matters rages on (see, for example, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/13/aminatta-forna-dont-judge-book-by-cover?CMP=share_btn_tw ). Killer Reads recently asked why some female crime writers write under (obviously ungendered) initials or male nom de plums, with interesting resulting audience thoughts (https://www.facebook.com/KillerReads/photos/a.377253695674829.86520.366781136722085/847979735268887/?type=1&theater ).

Like genre stereotyping, I find author gender stereotyping unnecessary, yet common. But what does this have to do with writing?

Well, there is a school of thought that thinks that men and women focus on completely different elements when writing fiction, what I think of as the black-and-white school: all men focus on action and all women on emotions. Ignoring the fact that the real world is grey, it’s a useful tool for editing. Check your focus (if there is one) and switch it. Psychological thriller not working? Try re-writing as an action thriller. Even if it doesn’t work, the chances are that the result will iron out some issues.

Then there’s the school of thought that disagrees vehemently: women can write male characters and men can write women, as men aren’t emotionless and women aren’t plants. This, too, is useful when editing. Take your Maria and turn her into a Mario, or vice versa. Does the story change at all? If so, why? And is that necessary?

Sometimes, like a change of perspective, age or point-of-view, altering the gender of the narrator and/or protagonist can just pull you out of the rut of predictability.