1. henmatth
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    henmatth Member

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    Does Your Gender Dictate Your Character's Voices?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by henmatth, Jan 29, 2013.

    I've noticed, particurally in stories with adult characters rather than children ones, that often times the author has either sort of a feminine tone or masculine tone to all of their character's voices- which I assume is because they are incoorperating their own voice into the characters. I, personally, make a sincere effort to hear my characters' voices. I study the way they talk, behave, and often base their personalities on someone I know similar to them- which I believe ultimately helps me create a voice that matches that character (rather than using my own). Do you have any techniques to assure that your gender doesn't effect the dialouge of your characters?
     
  2. delfae
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    delfae New Member

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    To add onto your point; yes, I do believe the gender of the author has some power over the voice of his/her writing. How to solve this problem? It really depends on your characters-what initially comes to mind is to really study the people of the opposite gender, and gain an understanding of the differences between males and females psychologically. Just never lose sight of who your character is - not you. Your character is your puppet, and you can pull its strings to your every whim, but you should choose a tone for that character initially, that may change throughout the story through character development, but should otherwise remain the same. Just know your character, I guess, just as well as you know yourself.

    Hope I helped!!!
    -delfae
    http://emberbound.wordpress.com/
     
  3. Solitude
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    Solitude Member

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    I agree that gender influences voice to an extent. It's inevitable. In some way, gender roles and expectations affect everyone, whether they follow them or disregard them. Their experiences help shape their voice. I don't agree that the author's gender affects the character's voice. Generally speaking, published authors don't self-insert themselves into their novels.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, many successful authors have pieces of themselves in all their characters.

    I suppose gender, like everything else that one experiences in life, affects one's voice. I don't know what it means that the vast majority of the characters I write about are men.
     
  5. Solitude
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    Solitude Member

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    Integrating parts of your personality into the character's personality is not the same thing as blatant self-insertion.
     
  6. henmatth
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    henmatth Member

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    I agree with each of you guys. I suppose that the true way to avoid seeming either feminine or masculine in your characters is to honestly know who they are. Delfae, I absolutely agree that in order to truly have a set character, you need to know them as good as yourself. My characters often surprise me- they act and do things in ways that even surprise me. I think that means I know them quite well. When I'm writing a story and then a thought comes to mind about my character's next action and I'm surprised. Odd, I know. But I think I get so in depth sometimes that it's like watching a movie and just documenting it. My imagination runs wild I suppose...
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    My characters speak how they speak. I can either waste time telling them to change or accept who they are and write them out. Which do I think will be a more productive use of my time?
     
  8. Pale Writer
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    Pale Writer New Member

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    I write how I write. Gender speech/voice does not only fit into one style, more often it is their surroundings/experiences that prevail.

    Hard to say though.
     
  9. Shmendrick
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    Shmendrick Member

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    I've only started writing males as POV characters recently, I was worried I wouldn't be able to convey them properly. I did find I had to think a bit more about how a middle-aged man might speak and act than how a woman would in the same situation, simply because it's easier for me to imagine how a woman would be likely to react than how a man would. It comes easier with practice though and as I get more into my characters.
     
  10. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    I've always been suspicious of my dialogue when writing it for a female character. I honestly can't tell if my gender is affecting my writing or not, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is, and every Sally Sue in my stories sounds more like a Jim.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am a great believer in "fake it 'till you make it" method. Being a female, I have no way of speaking "like a man". But I know enough men to be able to emulate their speech and thinking. Not that there are any obvious and grand differences, but there are certain subtle differences. Have a look at this clip. It's from movie "Birdcage" and in a very funny way, it explores the way men talk, but I think it illustrates certain male/female differences, albeit in a very humoruos way.

    ps. I inserted a link and a whole video clip appeared! I didn't want to do that, but is there a way to just link? In any case, delete if inappropriate.
     
  12. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I once switched a character in a script from a man to a woman without changing a word of their dialogue and no one noticed. My current MC is a 14 year old lesbian. I'm not. People find her actions more believable when I tell them a woman wrote the story than when I tell them I wrote it, because people's perceptions of authenticity can be corrupted with extra information.

    In film, such as the example above, gender style isn't about what they say but how they say it. Character inflections, tone, pitch etc. The same dialogue told in a deep, 'manly' way would be quite different. Imagine two tough bikers growling the lines. The Nathan Lane character sounds feminine not because of the words but because he is putting on a high pitched 'girly' voice. However, inflection and tone are hard to write in a novel and suggestions by the writer will determine how the reader hears it.

    I've found that people tend to behave in such a variety of ways that, while gender stereotypes exist for a reason, people still speak and act in their own way, and not a gender specific way. Then again, see my sig.
     
  13. hnamartin
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    hnamartin Member

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    This post made me think about a website I found a while back which "uses a simplified version of an algorithm... to predict the gender of an author"
    http://bookblog.net/gender/genie.php

    Not saying I buy into this, although it is interesting.

    I feel more comfortable writing in third person due to fears about my gender, or my voice in general, infiltrating my characters.
     
  14. hnamartin
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    hnamartin Member

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    I agree. Writing is about creating illusions, but if the reader sees the workings behind it, it may fail.
     
  15. Roxie
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    Roxie Active Member

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    I write whatever character pops inside my head demanding to be released into a story. Male. Female. Robot. It matters not. They all have their own personalities and that's what needs to shine through.
     
  16. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I put in part of my work (with the first person female MC that I previously put up for review) and I got:

    Female Score: 641
    Male Score: 281

    The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female


    So that's great!
     
  17. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's mostly true, but that part when they talk about football team losing and Nathan Lane answers:"How do you think I feel? Betrayed, bewildered..." I thought that was a great illustration of how men just don't use many emotionally charged words whereas women do it a lot more often. There's a flavour of sentences, sometimes, and if the expression is too " gender incongruous" (I am using the term loosely) then it attracts attention to itself.
     
  18. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Yeah, I'd agree with that.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    only one thing determines the 'voices' of my characters... and that's the character/persona of each character, regardless of their gender... a woman can cuss like a sailor, or a guy can be as soft-spoken as a nun... it's how ordinary folks with the characters' personalities would speak that i consider when writing dialog...
     
  20. THE_EVIL_CLIFFIE
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    THE_EVIL_CLIFFIE New Member

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    According to this, all my female-perspective stuff was written by a woman, and all my male-perspective stuff was written by a man :cool:
     
  21. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    It's virtually impossible to keep from having 'your voice' in any character. Your 'voice' as a writer isn't masculine or feminine in many ways. It comes from how you put your thoughts together, how you form your sentences, writing style, etc etc. So, is an author injecting their voice into a character? Darn right they are, otherwise all their character's would end up being merde.

    The problem with trying to 'avoid using your own voice' in writing is that you'll constantly bury it, and eventually lose it. Once that's gone, what's there to connect you with the character? Despite what people want to say on here, characters all come from us in every way shape or function. We might look at a waitress for example and say "Hey, she'd make a neat character," and create the fictional person. No matter how much you try to base that off another person, your voice and personality will still creep into the work. It's just how writing is.

    There's a reason why writing is so personal, and that's because it comes from the author's own heart. If the character is too brutal for who you are, then the two of you won't have chemistry. Perhaps the character is a pushover while you're not, the same thing will happen because you secretly won't have any respect for the character.

    Sometimes people on here try to reinvent the wheel and make things more complicated then they are. Create characters you can connect with, and have chemistry with, and then tell a story. The base formula is character+plot+story line+setting= short story, novel or screenplay. It's pretty basic, so why go and try to make things so complicated on the basis of "I don't want my voice to show." All that does is put so much pressure that's not necessary. If you want to be a serious writer, there's enough pressure to succeed.

    Want to know what it takes? I spend 3-4 hours per day either writing new work, rewriting older work or editing. That's a total of just about a day when you put the seven day total around. And I haven't hit the commercially published level yet, but I'm putting the serious time into becoming a professional writer. Do you think it would be possible to work hard like that if you worry so much about your "voice" not showing through? I'm thinking it would send your mind down a rabbit hole to speak to the hookah smoking Caterpillar.

    My advice to to quit sweating the abstract, which this is to be honest, and focus on writing itself-especially if you wish to be a pro. If not, then experiment and work things however they go.

    Time for me to get back to completely rewriting a chapter.
     

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