1. Brayden Potter
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    Brayden Potter Member

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    Am I The Only Person Who Has Trouble Writing For The Opposite Sex?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Brayden Potter, Apr 17, 2011.

    Whenever I try and write for women, their dialogue always seems to come off, I dunno, manly. Sometimes I even avoid writing women so I don't have to worry about it. But that means I've either got a story totally filled with men or all the women in the story talk like butch lesbians. Either way, it's not good. Has anybody got any tips to write dialogue for the opposite sex?
     
  2. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Dialogue from both sexes may be a little different, because you are hearing a woman’s voice verse a man’s voice. However, in my opinion, it is written the same way. I don’t find it that hard to write dialogue from a woman’s point of view. But for some people it may. Have you tried to envision a woman talking in your head and writing the words as the woman is speaking? And whenever you write dialogue from a woman’s perspective, do you hear a man speaking? If that’s the case, that’s why your dialogue may be off. I tend to write dialogue the same way, but it is tempting.

    I wouldn’t think too hard on how a woman talks, or how you want a woman to talk. I sometimes get the feeling of being in a situation where I find myself trying to put myself in a woman’s position, but it doesn’t work for me, so I tend to talk from my own voice, yet that doesn’t work for me either. So what I do sometimes is watch TV shows, movies, and commercials about woman. There are a lot of women who speak in dialogue, and sometimes that has helped me whenever I listen to them speak.

    I hope I didn’t misinterpret what you’re trying to say. If I’m missing anything, feel free to explain this or ask somebody else about their opinions on this.
     
  3. Brayden Potter
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    Brayden Potter Member

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    Thankyou. That was a help.
     
  4. clockwise
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    clockwise Member

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    Haha, I always thought I was unusual because I have more trouble writing for my own sex than the opposite sex xD. But I think it's for the same reason I have trouble writing for anyone considered a "minority" in general... I'm so afraid to offend someone who thinks that just because I represent a character one way means I must think that all people in that category are like that, when nothing could be further from the truth. And being afraid to offend people definitely doesn't make writing any easier.

    What's worked for me is that, in judging how a character is going to behave, talk, etc. I focus on what that character, as an individual, is like. I'm not writing for a woman, I'm writing for Anne; I'm not writing for a man, I'm writing for Greg. I don't have characters named Anne or Greg, but that's beside the point xDD. Just try to put yourself in the shoes of your character, male or female, and try to understand the story from their perspective. A lot of people like to emphasize the differences between men and women, but it's been scientifically show that there are far more similarities than differences. Lucky for us who don't want to be stuck only writing characters of one gender ;).
     
  5. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Totally agree.

    Some women fit into the basic feminine type others do not - some can be butch, loud, aggressive, foul mouthed etc.

    Some men can be of a feminine disposition.

    It all depends on the character.

    Learn to understand your characters, to see the world through their eyes, try to feel how they feel, how do they think, act, how would act/cope in a given situation.

    p.s. going by other posts on this site, you're not the only one with this problem.

    I have trouble getting inside a certain type of man's head -how do you get into the head of a man that gets stoned, then come home and knocks hell out of his wife?
    But then, I have trouble getting into (and understanding) the head of a woman, that runs off and abandons her children.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is where I find casting my Main characters with an actor who is versatile, can sing and covers a lot of roles is very useful - it allows me to study the body language to frame the dialogue. Also voice patterns etc
     
  7. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Casting? - Love it.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL its a lot of fun :)
    Beatrice is a young Honeysuckle Weeks/Lena Meyer Landrut
    Socrates is John Barrowman
    Nate is Josh Groban
    Fyren is Jon Bon Jovi
    Joe is David Tennant
    Tim is Lee Mead
    Iris is Michael Ball
    and have yet to find Gus :) a present he is also Michael Ball or Cliff Richard but that is a little weird and neither are working. Contemplating Mel Smith but he isn't really tall and skinny lol

    All have a huge youtube presence in a variety of roles - they all do the big gestures and facial expressions of a good stage actor etc I find it is important to have one that is versatile and is kind of blank canvas.

    When I read I find what sometimes makes male writers have female characters that sound like a drag act or a female writer write a slightly camp character is the body language and the situations. Mind you I also get round it by writing camp characters lol
     
  9. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Generally, males tend to be more direct and get to the point whereas females tend to be more emotional and go on a bit. But this is just a generalisation, so obviously it's not true for every male and female.

    It would help to eavesdrop conversations between groups of women and men, and try and note down exactly what they say and their body language etc. so you can find out what the differences between them are for yourself.
     
  10. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    In my novel, I currently on a chapter when I'm writing from a guy's point of view. And as you can see, I'm a female. But when I'm writing it, I don't think 'Oh, he's male so he has to _________*insert stereotype in space* I just write him in a way that shows his personality, not the fact that he's a male.
    So basically, don't worry about writing the opposite sex to show their 'manliness' or 'femininess' just write them to show their personality as a person. The more you try, the more likely it is to look like your forcing it.
     
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  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't find writing from a male's perspective a problem, actually I enjoy it :D it's really fun, and I think the result is quite good. As the others have said I sort of picture the man I want this character to resemble talking and just write it down. I hear the talking as if a real guy would be speaking, it's not my own words at all. I think if you have a clear enough picture of what this woman is like and can manage to 'see' her as if she was a real person it would help a lot.
     
  12. Ophiucha
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    Ophiucha Member

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    I have the opposite problem. I can't write my own gender.
     
  13. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't write little girls well, IMO. They always come off the same, flat and whiny. I can't get into their characters that well. I can write women. In fact, most of my adult leads ARE women. But little girls, can't do it well. lol
     
  14. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    I tend to go the female route when creating characters. Maybe they're all self-inserts. It's odd because the universe I pull from for my fanfics is a sausage-fest. (Then again, the main writer/director was female and one of the main characters was described as not being masculine enough.)
     
  15. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    I find that I have a little trouble with it when I first start a story, but as I get into it, my characters get a lot more natural and I can edit them into sounding right throughout the whole thing.

    One of my biggest problems, which I still have, is how much introspection to give when I'm writing in a guy's POV, when he's got emotional problems. One of my male characters is currently dealing with a difficult relationship, and I'm finding it hard to write. I know what he's feeling, but I don't know how natural it is for him to stew about it the way he does. I don't want to alienate male readers by having him think too much about his 'feelings', but they're actually important to the plot...
     
  16. Froggy
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    Froggy Member

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    There's a book, I forget the title, it's about relationship issues and tries to explain how differently both women and men think, communicate and rate what is said and done.
    It's by a couple of shrinks I think...
    Anyways, i found it an interesting read. Some things I was aware of before, but it kinda clicked the light on for me.
    Still, it doesn't mean everybody fits the profile - I talk like a guy but argue like a girl for example :)

    As for what the other gender is thinking - ask someone (family is probably best, but an honest friend would work).
     
  17. clockwise
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    clockwise Member

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    Couldn't agree more - that's pretty much how I go about it, too, just put in better words than I described it xD.
     
  18. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    ^Ditto that.
     
  19. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I posted a similar thread a while back, although the focus started getting more about the characters' personality more than the dialogue. Although I don't have much problem with personality, some of the advice was still pretty useful - since women are people too (probably ;) ), it's not a good idea to force "feminine" traits on them just because. A lot of my major female characters are pretty "masculine" one way or another (also pretty and "masculine", if you prefer), but I still feel that at least for the personality that they're "girly" enough. Ultimately, you might just want to ask some of your female friends or some other female people you know to look over your characters' dialogue and see what they think.



    While it is a generalization, it actually does have a bit of basis in reality, according to what I learned in psychology class. Men tend to be more direct, women more indirect. My psychology teacher (a young woman, no less), put it amusingly like this (paraphrased): "If guys get angry at each other, they beat the crap out of each other, and when they're done, they're done. If girls get angry at each other, they'll drag it out into some kind of emotional guerrilla warfare and try to make each others' lives miserable."

    A generalization, yes, and of course there are many people that defy such, but from my own experiences, it does seem to be true to some extent. A couple of days ago I remember a nice conversation I had with a very close friend of mine, a girl, in high school. It went something like this:

    My friend: "I like hanging out with guys more than girls."
    Me: "Why?"
    My friend: "Girls have too many feelings and they get too involved in things, but guys are laid-back and usually don't care about things as much."
    Me, surprised: "I like hanging out with girls than guys for the exact same reason."


    Ah well. She was very wise and down-to-earth despite her generally childish demeanor, but she had a reasonable point. Of course, most people who aren't in high school don't act like high school kids, but I'm pretty sure it carries over to some extent into life after high school.
     
  20. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    No I found the female authors so far superior over the last two decades, I was both influenced and educated. That is not to say I do not get things like describing female clothing wrong. I find reading the "now' male writers as exciting as a trip to the dentist chair
     
  21. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Expectations have a lot to do with whether you perceive a character to be male or female - the differences are usually not that big... If you doubt your own ability, it's possible you're overly critical and interpret everything in your female characters as male. Have you had others comment on that aspect of your writing?
     
  22. Brayden Potter
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    Brayden Potter Member

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    I think you're probably right. Nobody's commented on it. It's just how I feel when I read it back to myself. And now that you mention it, the few people who have read my witing have mentioned that I tend to be a bit over-critical.
     
  23. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    The base line is, they're your characters and therefore as long as you're writing them in a way true to the story, there's no reason they can't be like they are. :p I'd imagine if you needed a very feminine character you'd pull out all the stops to make sure she fitted her requirement for the plot. If the rest are just chilling and there's no real importance placed on their femininity, there's no reason they have to exude masses of it. They are just characters, after all. :)
     
  24. slyfox
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    I'm told that Jane Austin NEVER has two male characters alone in a room. She avoids this because she has no idea what two men would talk about in the absence of female company. I'm not an expert on her life's work but it seems logical. The surefire way to avoid your problem is to never have two women alone. If that's not possible then maybe get some female friends to read it over - get two of them to read it aloud for you and give you feedback.
     
  25. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's kind of funny, but it also says a lot about the time and social class she lived in.

    Today, I think you can get an idea of how two guys act together by discreetly watching them on the bus - I don't think it's that different from how they act when they're alone.

    Something Austen couldn't do, not just because of the lack of buses, but also, I imagine, because there wasn't any place where she could see men of her own social class meet without paying attention to who was watching them.
     

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