Writing from a Boy’s Perspective: A Guest Post by Elle Strauss

Today I’m being interviewed by Lisa Ard, author of Fright Flight, on her blog, Adventures in Writing  and Publishing.

Meanwhile, Elle Strauss, author of Clockwise and It’s a Little Haywire, is here to tell you all about writing books for boys.


Most people in the business of selling young adult and middle grade books will tell you it’s a girl’s reading world out there. For every “boy” book, there’s umpteen girl books on the shelf.

I’m not sure why this is. Are girls just more avid readers? Or, are books just more likely to be written in a fashion that appeals to girls, ie: female protagonists and romantic themes?

I don’t have the answer to this. Perhaps a male author does have a better chance of connecting with male readers, and we see this with the success of books like The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan. But then, how do you explain J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter? At the beginning kids may have perceived her to be male (why she went with J.K and not Joanna), but the reality was she was female writing male. And after the first book, NOBODY cared.

The YA series ( I believe to be)most widely read currently by both genders is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and interestingly, the main character is female, not male.

So, there’s no real set rule about writing for boys or books with boy protagonists that I can determine.

Despite successes of these examples, the odds are still against books written with a male protagonist doing well in the marketplace, (though alternating male and female seems to work as long as the primary POV is female. Ie: the Shiver Series by Maggie Stiefvater.)

This begs the question: should we bother writing books from a boy’s POV?

My answer is yes. And not because it will sell, because, it might not. Some stories are just HIS story. I know Lisa’s book, Running Wide Open is Cody’s story. It wouldn’t make sense to make the protag female just to sell the story.

I have a YA historical coming out this summer called Playing with Matches about a boy who grows up in Hitler youth. Though I’m more comfortable writing from a female POV, this book is about a boy. If I wanted to tell the story right, I had to get it from his point of view.

What about It’s a Little Haywire? Some could argue that the main character could’ve been female. It’s been compared in tone to Because of Winn Dixie. And I suppose, from a marketing perspective, it might be a bigger seller if I had.

But it wasn’t her story. It was his. In my heart I couldn’t change it just because it might have a wider appeal. And you know what? I don’t think it matters that much in the end who the story is about, as long as it’s a good story.

IT’S A LITTLE HAYWIRE: Owen True is eleven and eleven twelfths and has been “exiled” to the small crazy town of Hayward, WA, aka, Haywire, while his mother is on her honeymoon. All he has to whittle away the time is the company of Gramps, his black lab Daisy, and his Haywire friends, Mason and Mikala Sweet. They don’t look so hot this year, in fact, the whole town has gone to pot since the mill shut down.

Owen has his first encounter with a real life homeless man who ends up needing Owen’s help in more ways than one. But how does a rich city kid help the small town’s suffering citizens?

And what is Owen to make of the fog train and its scary, otherworldy occupants that appears out of thin air on the old tracks behind Gramps’ house? Do they have the answer Owen is looking for?

It’s a Little Haywire is normally $2.99 on Amazon, but you can get it FREE on February 22nd and 23rd.


ELLE STRAUSS writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She’s a married mom of four, and lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, famous for beaches and vineyards. She’s fond of Lindt’s sea salt dark chocolate and hiking in good weather. Her Young Adult rom/com time-travel CLOCKWISE and contemporary/otherworldly Middle Grade IT’S A LITTLE HAYWIRE are now available on Amazon.

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13 Responses to Writing from a Boy’s Perspective: A Guest Post by Elle Strauss

  1. Terrific answer. Sometimes it is just his story. 🙂


    • Lisa Nowak says:

      So true. And sometimes it’s her story. The book I’m working on now definitely needs to be told from Cody’s girlfriend’s POV, though as an exercise I wrote several chapters from Cody’s POV and it gave me insights that allowed for greater depth into the original.


  2. LisaArd says:

    Thoughtful post – thank you. This attitude of boys don’t read is always hard for me to accept. I have an 11-year AVID reader and his friends are too. Perhaps they’re in the minority, but those boy readers are still out there, requiring good books with good boy protagonists.


    • Lisa Nowak says:

      I personally think this myth about boys not reading was created and perpetuated by the Big Six due to business practices. If they don’t publish books for boys to read, then boys don’t have anything worth reading. It’s not so bad at MG age, but when you get up into high school the choices are very limited.


  3. Elle Strauss says:

    Thanks for having me, Lisa!


  4. I wonder if it’s easier to write for girls. The idea just popped into my head while reading Elle’s thoughts.


  5. Alice Lynn says:

    What fun to read your guest post, Elle. It’s A Little Haywire sounds delightful; a male protagonist never deterred me from reading all the “boys” books in the school library. What an intriguing twist your story takes; I’ve really got to read this one.


  6. Great post. It’s so true that the choice of protagonist has to work for the story.


  7. Rose L says:

    I envy those who can write so well from different character perspectives.


  8. Beth says:

    I always read books written from both perspective (and still do), and have written from both perspectives. I admit, however that I asked my brothers if my male characters sounded “real.” They didn’t mince shots when they thought I’d “girlified” a guy character.


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