1. zarley11
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    zarley11 New Member

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    Developing A Female Character Through A Male's Eyes

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by zarley11, Jun 24, 2010.

    I have been told that men should have main characters as men and likewise for women. I guess they are trying to say that it's much more easier to write a character's gender that is the same to your own. But many author's succeed when writing about the opposite sex.

    I am writing a novel where the main character is a female, and I am a male. I find it quite difficult to write some things a 23 year old woman would say in certain situations, since the writing is in first person. I am trying to go to the approach that this lady first starts off as someone who doesn't take things seriously, jokes around and criticize people for the small things they do. But as the story progresses, she needs to take the role of a leader to make sure that a task is done, even if it means putting her entire team and her own life in jeopardy.

    Can someone, possibly a female, help me with this problem?
     
  2. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Boys and girls face different expectations. They not that different, but have to tackle this different things they are facing.

    Make her as she was a male character.

    Then you look like the sort of things that are expected of her as a female in the situation she faces.

    A small girl braking a window and is taken to the principals office will hear a different speech then a boy and will be expected to behave differently. A single father is met differently when taking in his kid with a broken nose to the medical clinic then a single mother would. A women that raises her voice in anger at a meting wont be seen the same way if a male did it. A man crying when he exhausted will be seen diffidently than a women. A sloppy dressed man is more okay then a sloppy dressed women.

    Work with the expectations she faces. Not if she conforms to them or not, but how she tackles them and they affects her be behaviour.
     
  3. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Could you give me more details about the story? I'd be more help if I knew what you were asking exactly. :p
     
  4. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    I'm inclined to agree with W176. Granted, I'm a guy. Remember as well that there are different types of cultures. I think it's fairly obvious to say that people where I live (Bay Area of California) act a good bit different than folks from Wyoming. No matter our gender, we tend to act certain ways because of how we are raised. You have to take that into consideration just as much as you would how a certain gender is treated, though it's a bit easier since you can base the entire populace around their culture.
     
  5. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    Think about your female friends or girlfriends, how do they react, how do they talk and what interests them.

    You'll find that a lot of the things that we do, they also do as well. The only diffrence is that they may have diffrent opinions on things, diffrent interests.

    Observation and talking to people are the greatest ways to learn about others.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This bears repeating, especially the observation part.

    Look and listen whenever you can, wherever you are. Be a peoplewatcher, and practice putting your observations into words.
     
  7. Diabo
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    Diabo New Member

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    Scary enough, I have written from a female's perspective before, and it's not too hard. Just remember that in a few basic ways, things are allowed differently (like stated in the second post by w176). But overall, the person's attitude towards certain events or circumstances would in no way be too different. As much as we would like to think differently, it is still rather easy for both opposite genders to share all the same common views and goals.

    Therefore in many ways it wouldn't be improbbable for a female character to act nearly the same as you would have a male character. But on the same token, you would have to allow for a few changes because of the expectation differences of a male and a female.

    The pieces of your story (to me) aren't something I have much experience with since usually I was part of a collective story, but my own was specific in the writings. So, you'de have to find someone with a lil bit more experience.

    Hope it helped, because even if it didn't, you still might've made the mistake of reading it :D.
     
  8. Show
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    For me, writing a "female" perspective itself isn't too hard. I struggle with writing a girl's perspective specifically. I can write women fairly easily, but when I try to write a girl, they usually end up being fairly tomboyish or stereotypical.

    I guess another thing to consider is that "female" characters aren't all the same. Some females would react to situations very differently than others. I guess the key thing to remember is that this woman is a character and thus she doesn't have to act a specific way.
     
  9. That Secret Ninja
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    That Secret Ninja Member

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    I don't do anything particularly different when I write a female character. They're still human, and that I can write easily. All the little things that make us different can be expressed in a multitude of ways through the actual writing of the narrative. Crafting a female for me is no different. Presenting her through the narrative may be, but is dependent on what I'm trying to get across in the context of whatever I'm writing.
     
  10. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I find this entertaining that you guys feel the need to mention that women are people. :p Of course they are. All are different just like men. There are some things that are integral to women like there are some things that are integral to men. Women tend to be more social and more detail oriented for one. Ex. Women are much more likely to notice a tiny smudge of lipstick than men. Men are more concerned with the big picture the overall look.. etc.. People watching is a very good idea so is talking to female friends or relatives.

    If you gave more specifics on what you want to know then I'd be glad to help. I've learned so much from being on this forum. :)
     
  11. Show
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    But at the same time, many men are better at the things women are traditionally good at, and vice versa. So barring sex changes, the physical differences are really the only things ALWAYS different between the two. Hence, I don't think a writer need get too bogged down with making their female characters a certain way.
     
  12. zarley11
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    zarley11 New Member

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    Since some people are asking me where the story is going and some background information, I shall share some "vague" information about the story. Basically the female character, Saria Rudyard, is a special agent working for a futuristic (year 2033) CIA agency that is assigned a mission of destroying a Private Military Corperation (or PMC) known as Scorpio. She is a Commander of a small joint task force consisting of 3 members of a Canadian special agency called the OSCR. Her team is called the Watch Dog Unit 05 and she and her team needs to search the most famous battlefields across the world where Scorpio's activities are hot. So she starts off as a stereotypical 23 year old lady that finds herself in a war situation where she has no experience in. She was originally a Fields Expert Operator, not a Field Agent. This is her first big assignment and yeah I'm going to stop there.
     
  13. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Well actually.. There are some major differences. :p Ex. Men would rather feel unloved than disrespected women would rather feel disrespected than unloved. Yes people are people. There are things that are integral to all mankind. There are unique differences between men and women though that compliment eachother. They think differently from eachother. I know this firsthand from many discussions. :p

    I can't think of any way to stereotype a woman of that age. Most women (and men) are at a point where they have really become their own person.

    I would think she would start off feeling intimidated by all this but not allowing others to see she is. I imagine in this field of work weakness isn't welcomed or tolerated. If so it would be important to her to appear not to be weak or frightened by all this. (putting myself in her place everyone is different).

    I suggest trying to figure out more about what you want her personality to be like. My preferred method, that works well for me, is to make a very brief profile of their personality. Very brief. I don't like to box myself into a certain thing either. Allow her to grow and change with your writing and she'll really take on her own personality. :)
     
  14. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Personally I do no differences of my female or my male characters. Personality in a woman is no different from a man. Its based on environment and the people around them. There may be some biological differences, but for the most part I do not see how a woman and a man's personality could be any different.

    Generally though most of my females have a male's mind, they are tough, head strong, independent, somewhat stubborn. Taking charge.

    Some of my woman are intelligent. And others are street smart. I'm under the impression a woman can behave like a male. And a woman can think like a male.

    By this I mean the personality traits we stereotype with men and woman.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You mentioned in your first post that this character would start out as someone who doesn't take things too seriously, jokes around, and so on. But your specific story concept has her already being granted substantial responsibility (commanding three people on important independent work), and people don't hand responsibility like that to just anyone.

    So I think that she can't be any more un-serious than a man in exactly the same position could be - women are not so fundamentally different that they can be hired as leaders without holding leadership abilities and other skills. She should not be fundamentally different from a young male military officer or manager on his first big project.

    On the other hand, if the concept requires that she be un-serious, a little flighty, a little foolish, then I think that she needs to start at the lowest rank, rather than in a leadership position - just as a flighty, foolish young man would be.

    In general, I don't think that the fact of her being biologically female is going to matter much, unless your society treats males and females in a very different way. Her personality - and personality is not dictated by sex - and the society, are what matter.

    ChickenFreak
     
  16. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    And that is typically true but there are people who break those rules. And often enough, those characters show up in fiction. ;)
     
  17. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Notice how you used the word fiction ;) I'm done debating this though. We're getting way off topic here. :p
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I personally don't subscribe to the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus stereotypes. I think there are men and women who believe those stereotypes and are socialized into them, but the variations due to individual personalities far exceed the socialized gender differences.

    I'm not above writing a sensitive man who feels deeply and is more interested in empathising than solving, or a tough as nails woman who always has to compete for the win. Just like real life.

    I understand the "standard" guidelines for characterization by gender, but I reject them for the most part.
     
  19. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    Writing from the POV of the opposite gender is always interesting. Try to write them as you would expect an opposite-gender friend to act, but be sure to give the character their intended personality.

    There have been times where this can't be done entirely perfect. My class had read The Outsiders (told from the POV of a male Greaser, written by a teenage girl) for school. All of my friends had agreed they got a gay vibe from Ponyboy (the MC). Ah well, maybe that's how the author was intending the character to be.

    Maybe, write your character normally, as you would any. Then, take it to a trusted female friend to read it, and ask her if she finds the character believable.
     
  20. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I must disprove you here. I know how it feels to be both unloved and disrespected, and unloved is definitely worse in my world.

    Stereotypes are overused and boring, and I therefore do not use them. At the least, I don't take care to make sure my characters seem "normal." I create my characters the way I want them to be, and if they don't fit in with how people normally act, I couldn't possibly care less if my life depended on it. Just so long as I'm satisfied with how they turn out. And if the character is supposed to be a "normal" girl or whatever, I just give it my best attempt. But again, I really don't care if it's accurate. Just as long as I like how he/she turns out.
     
  21. Show
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    Yes, becuase they have the most freedom to have difference. Real life has plenty too, but we just don't see it as much due to see the world through stereotyped lences. ;)

    But anyway, as long as you make it feel genuine, I think you can pretty much make any personality type for a female work. As long as you remember anatomical differences(should they ever become an issue), you should be fine if you put your heart into the character, IMO.
     
  22. Cardboard Tube Knight
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    It always seemed odd to me that people say things like that about gender, I guess I have always found females easier to write and have always been more interested in them as characters. I tend to have more of them to the point of absurdity and they tend to be more powerful than the males too.

    I think this might be because I had a lot of female friends in high school and college, its not to say I can't write males, but it seems to be harder in some ways especially when trying to have them express emotions, I guess because its more widely accepted that women can be outwardly emotional. I have had people comment that some of my men seem too feminine at times, which is odd considering that many of these same men are killers and stone cold. Somehow them being somewhat emotional is taken as being "too feminine."
     
  23. Thoughtful Earth Dweller
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    I'll try to keep things short, and I hope that my advice will be of some use to you :D. Anyway, it's true that men and women tend to think a little differently from one another. Men and women may perceive certain actions, situations, mannerisms and other subtleties of body language differently. In the first-person perspective, you have to take all of these things into account when you're writing, since, after all, the events of the story are told "as perceived by the main character." I think that what you're attempting to do is a difficult thing for any writer (writing a story from the POV of a character who's of the opposite sex, just to clarify), so I would recommend writing this story in the third-person POV. Understanding the subtle ways (and the not so subtle ways) that ladies and gents think differently from one another is something that fortunately can be learned from your everyday life experience (gradually).
    I hope this helped :). But take this with a grain of salt, as this is only my opinion and I can't guarantee that this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth :p. Cogito is really the expert here, so if he happens to stop by, I would listen to him :D.
     
  24. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    Don't bother with the stereotypes. I know girls who are petite, feminine and not "butch" in any way whose main interest would include sports and cars. Similarly I have a male friend who is a man's man one of the big shots on the rugby team and yet he absolutely loves designing hotel interiors. Wallpaper, flowers, bed sheets etc - he can't get enough. Don't limit yourself to stereotypes.

    What is the culture, what is the characters background. What I think is useful is to have a starting point for your character based on the facts up to start of book. Then write and let the character develop with the story.
     
  25. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Donal, I am writing my current stories from the point of view of a seventeen year old boy. In past couple of days I have had several teenage boys read the story and they feel my basic story and character are spot on.

    It was nothing special that I had done beyond developing the character within the story and the world he lives in.
     

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