In the first years of working on my novel, Braided Dimensions, I shared it with fellow women writers. Several years into it, I shared some chapters with men. It was eye opening and really quite exciting to realize that Kay, the main character, immediately became a love interest for male readers, just as Baird was pretty consistently a very hot and compelling draw for female readers. Because she tells the story, there’s a limit to the observations she’ll make about her own thinking and personality. But no problem. The male readers immediately filled in and felt they knew exactly what she was like inside: vulnerable, strong, and so on.
Now, seven+ years into the project, the novel is completed and I have friends reading the completed novel combing for anything awkward or downright wrong while I submit to agents. One of the male friends who read it gave me a new surprise: he identified with Baird, lived the novel experiencing himself as a bard of medieval times, journeying far and wide, living close to nature, according to the codes of the free bard. Since he told me that, I’ve combed through my mind for every aspect of Baird that comes through in the novel, picturing those possibilities for the male reader.
I’m including a couple of fantasy images of bards to give the flavor. I suspect my image of Baird is colored by Tolkien’s descriptions of Aragorn (Strider), an important male figure in my adolescence, if he carried a harp or mandolin in place of a sword, or in addition.