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  1. Pentip
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    Pentip Member

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    Character of the opposite gender

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Pentip, Mar 27, 2008.

    I've written a lot of stories, but I have never written a story with a MC that was a male. Normally I always do girls. Now, in my latest story, I have to do an MC that is male. I want him to seem real (as in, really male, considering the fact that he is my other MC's husband, or will be), but, not being one, what am I supposed to do with him?
     
  2. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    I don't mean to sound flippant, but...imagine. I'm serious. We are a result of our experiences, which become our memories, which feed what we wish for in the future. Without memory (personal and collective) we have nothing to imagine. Have you brothers? A father (figure)? Male cousins? Male friends/associates? A boyfriend? Exes? Male neighbours? Visualise and imagine, then put pen to paper and let him come to life. It works. I do it with female characters all the time. Just give him things to initiate and react to and see where it takes you in his development.
     
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  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You might also want to check out this thread, Male characters vs. Female characters on the same topic.
     
  4. Pentip
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    Pentip Member

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    I don't really want to model my character after my brothers (the char is supposed to be good), but I'll give it a shot.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you don't have enough life experience with men of all kinds to know how they think and act/react, then you'll have to do a lot of reading... pick books that have male characters like the one you intend to create and study them there...
     
  6. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    It may sound awkward... well really awkward, but when I write from the perspective of the opposite gender I try to think, how would I react if I were a girl?

    So far no one seems to notice any problems, so I must be doing something right XD
     
  7. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Most people seem to think I'm a girl on the internet anyway... ;_; I wrote something once and someone was like, "you're a guy? Wow. Couldn't tell"

    And yet I know nothing of the female perspective. Maybe you won't need to really know the male perspective.

    EDIT: well, could be the Avatar...
     
  8. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    Okay, this might be nutty, but go check out the RPG forum. I roleplay online (chatrooms, instant messenger, IRC) very often, and doing so has helped me learn how men react in certain situations. I've gotten to the point where I can play as convincing a male character as they can. Give it a shot.
     
  9. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    My only advice for you, pentip, is to imagine what it would be like as honestly, that is the best you can do I think. I have no experience about what it is like being an african woman with no food or shelter but I can still try to write about it. Same applies with males, or anything else you might be trying. The best you can do is read or research about what it would be like, as questions to males who you know about anything you may be struggling with and then just make up the rest. I honestly don't think their brain setting for most things would be that different anyways so I shouldn't think it would make that much differnece.

    Good luck
    Heather
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry to have to disagree, heather, but from well over a half century of study, observation and experience, i can tell you unequivocably that this is not even close to true... and it does make a significant difference... that doesn't mean that hard-working, talented and skillful writers can't learn how to write from the pov of people very different from themselves [gender-wise or culturally], but it's certainly not that easy to do it believably... and well...

    research is the key, along with observation and reading/studying how the best writers handle that aspect of writing... one well-known example is agatha christie, an englishwoman, who created as one of her two main characters, an eccentric belgian man in her best-selling [still today!] stories starring hercule poirot... another is dorothy sayers, another englishwoman 'commoner' whose hero was a peer, 'lord peter whimsey'...
     
  11. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know what your saying, mama, ut I really do think a lot of it comes down to sounded like you have a clue. Like if you say a made up thing like it is a fact, people are a lot more likely to beleive you. Sometimes you just need to have confidence in your writing skills, and yes, a bit of research will help too.
     
  12. ACCERBYSS
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    I've found this to be a really good book - Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda N., Ph.D. Edelstein. as with anything of this nature you need to take what is described and make it your own.

    Every guy on these forums could very well disagree with how believably male your character is, the gender is universal but the experience of being male is individual.

    How can i say no that is not what its like to be a man, all i can say is that is not what it's like for me. So go for it write your character i'm sure you'll do a great job.

    Start with sterotypes and build.

    how does he deal with his emotions?

    was he raised with the axiom of boys dont cry?

    how does he display his masculinity?

    how mechanically minded is he? By Mechanically minded I mean can he fix his own car?

    All the best, post some scenes that you've writen with him in them so we can see how you progress.

    - Accerbyss
     
  13. Slippery
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    Slippery Contributing Member

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    Meh. You can't "write it like a guy would." This is because men, just like women, are incredibly diverse. You'll have your John Wayne idolizers who wouldn't cry if they got it in the sweet spot with a sledge hammer, and you have your teenage kid who's so unpredictable you can't tell what he'll do next... There's even different types of gay dudes.

    I like to just imagine what I would do and think if I were her. If that is weird for you, just remember that writers are supposed to be crazy. Chances are you will end up with a character who acts like you would if you were the opposite gender, but cast through the lense of the personality you want.
     
  14. Anna_Pavarli_76
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    Anna_Pavarli_76 New Member

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    I had a similar problem. I wanted to create a 12-year-old boy as the main character, but I've always had teenage girl characters (because that's what I know about). Sometimes I just had to imagine and run it past my brother to see if it sounds "boy-ish."
     
  15. Timshel
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    Timshel New Member

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    A Girl Who Writes Boys

    I'm a female. 19-years old.
    I've written countless things and have just realized that most of my characters are males, especially in the works I think are my greatest achievements. I love the logic of male characters, the way they express themselves, and the strong, focused emotion they have when they do become emotional.

    I recently thought of perhaps trying to write from a girl's perspective. I tried to just jot a few things down but my females kept coming out masculine no matter how hard I tried.

    Anyone else like to write from the opposite sex's point of view better? Any way to kind of break that habit? I think it'd help me expand my character base a little.
    Also, any female characteristics I may be missing? That may help too.

    Thanks!!! :p
     
  16. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Is there something wrong with masculine females? I've met plenty of girls/women who are more aggressive, more assertive, and/or physically stronger than most of the guys I know. And I've met plenty of guys who seem to be girls trapped in a male body. Sometimes I think I fall under the latter category myself (not that I'm attracted to men, though--I'm strictly heterosexual... just saying).

    IMO, there is no such thing as male and female personalities. There are simply assertive and passive people who happen to be male or female. Sure, gender will have some sway over how people behave, but in my experience, it's not a dramatic effect. Or it shouldn't be, at the very least. I tend to focus on people, not stereotypes.

    That said, my current main character is a male, simply because I've always imagined myself as the main character in this story. I rarely write from the perspective of a female for that reason, though when I do, I never have any problem worrying about whether I'm making a convincing heroine. It's just another character.
     
  17. Benevolent Pudding
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    It's because of hormones. You're (I'm assuming) attracted to males and feel more emotions towards them than females, and thus can more easily spend more time and effort writing them down and giving them their own emotion.

    Try doing some role play. Try being as stereotypically female as you can i.e. all pink, love shopping, very "girly", and flirtatious, and etc., and just roll with it. Try to get more into their head (not to say you're not girly, but being over-the-top for a while might give you new insights as to how to give your characters those traits.

    Try reading classic romance authors like Jane Austin, or... jeez, she's really the only author I can think of for romance that's exceptionally good... but anyways, read more romance, and see what kinds of girly traits the authors give to their females, and try to emulate that until you can get the hang of creating your own feminine characters.

    That being said, it would still be a good exercise for her to learn to write feminine characters, and would still be quite beneficial to her writing skills in general.
     
  18. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find men much easier to write. I have managed to produce a book from a seventeen year old boy in first person that seems to get past every teen male that has read it - except the fight scenes but with help they sound less like a middle aged lady wrote them.

    My next book is a twenty nine year old gay man - he also writes my blog for me lol

    I am however in November just for fun writing a time travel novel and for the first time ever one of my two MCs will be female. Although she is a teen as well.

    Although BPs point doesn't work with me as I am attracted to both men and women in pretty equal measure. And the women I do write are assertive although I am very happy as being female:) It's just how my stories work best I guess.
     
  19. Naiyn
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    Naiyn Contributing Member

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    I'm 40, and my two main characters are both 16 year old girls. Whether or not they come across as believable I suppose depends on the reader, but it hasn't created any problems so far. Maybe it's because I'm a 16 year old girl at heart? :D
     
  20. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find it much easier to get inside the head of a female than the head of a male.
     
  21. Daisy215
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    Daisy215 Member

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    When writing either character I base some of the mindset of people I've known to get me started. Sisters and brothers are always good. Also since I have started dating it has been easier for me to understand guys (sot of lol)
     
  22. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    *doesn't get why it's so hard for people to write other people* They're all just that. People. :p

    Everyone's different, and everywhere is different, and even in groups of similar people there are different ones. Media representations of people rely on that, so even in a group of 3-4 people, there'll be extremely distinct personalities. Maybe they have some things in common, but they're cultural things. Even if they're all guys, they'll be stereotyped right through to the bone to make sure no one mixes them up but can instantly say, "oh him? He's the [distinctive feature] one!"

    I've seen surveys and stuff about some of the worst popular books, where people couldn't name a single distinctive feature for certain important main characters. Like, "oh, um, they're the... girl?" That's the sign of bad writing. Even blatant but well-constructed PERSONALITY stereotypes are better than bland characters. Just go with personalities, and what they have between their legs will hardly matter. No one is going to notice you don't know much about what it's like to have a penis unless you're writing erotica.

    I bolded personalities because it occured to me that no you do not want to stereotype every person of the gender you find hardest to write the same way. If the fact they're the only dude in the group is the only thing that makes them stand out, that's bad.
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As a rule, beginning writers don't wrute other characters. They write projections of themselves. Part of a writer's maturation is to step outside of his or her own head and write characters based on external observation instead of crawling into the character's skull.

    That's a major part of why new writers (especially!) have difficulty writing characters of the opposite sex.

    Nor is it only new writers. Even experienced writers get caught in the "my mind in a stranger's body" trap.
     
  24. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    All characters are a projection of yourself, one way or another. It's just a matter of honing the skill to bring out different parts of yourself, and to build on that until you have something different. But approaching the characters, initially, you'll have something of yourself there. It takes work to build the character into something else, but until then that foundation is you.

    People who are having trouble writing other genders probably just see themselves quite strongly in terms of their gender. I know a lot of the writers I know who can write the opposite sex really well - or even better than their own - are either gay or just don't see themselves as a gendered person - their sex is entirely incidental to who they are. One of my best buddies is totally hetero, but kinda butch as much as she is girly, and she mostly writes male main characters, and actually worries she doesn't do the female ones "right" - like she's almost lacking an understanding of her OWN gender.
     
  25. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually think my issue with my first book was the character I was writing - he didn't have many women in his life and was pretty awkward with those he did. The ones he is comfortable with I have written reasonable characters.

    Finding women interact better with his brother
     

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