A good writer of fiction will attempt to be sensitive to their readers’ ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, etc. But gender? Writing dialogue is an important part of a novel. The emphasis should be on the words between the quotes. Sometimes it’s necessary to avoid confusion for the reader by inserting he said, she said. It disrupts the meaning of the sentence less than: Scott said Jane said Scott said. But things are changing. Kids in school (notice I didn’t say boys and girls) are learning not to distinguish between male or female: he or she. How does this work out in a novel? Scott said Jane said Scott said Jane said. Or, the person in a chair, the person standing, the person cooking. Cannot say Prom Queen or Prom King—say the taller of the Royals?
Here you go: Three people talking in a diner:
“So, you’re thinking of ending your life? My God,” the server said.
“You can’t do that! There’s all kinds of help available—hot lines and stuff,” person in jeans added.
“I can’t go on. My life is finished. I have no one. No reason to live,” depressed person said.
Silly, I know. How do I describe a child in my book? A little girl or a tot with pigtails? What if said child poured a glass of water? The child poured a glass of water? Or, she poured a glass of water. Will the child’s mother or father be labeled parent only? “Don’t drink that water!” parent with the apron said.
Must writers beware of “gender normative” terms? Will there be a handbook on this subject?
I’m poking a little fun at our modern mores. Maybe though, just maybe, we might be trying a little too hard to be correct.