1. KMilz
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    KMilz Member

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    Writing from a female character's perspective as a male... tips?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by KMilz, May 29, 2012.

    Hey everyone,

    I'm currently developing a short story based around a period in the life of a high school girl and her friends, and I'm running into some trouble trying to find the right narrative voice.

    I've always been thoroughly pleased when an author could make the perspective of alternate gender characters truly believable and run with a natural feel, but I've never really been able to do it on my own. My female characters tend to seem rather boyish or uncharacteristically girly. Like, to an annoying extent, bordering on soap-opera style.

    I was just wondering how other writers might overcome this challenge. The girl is top-shit at her school and could be considered a sociopath, always manipulating her friends and the others around her to get what she wants, and the attention she craves, so I don't want it to sound like man-thoughts at all, ya know?

    Any advice would be much appreciated... thanks everyone!
     
  2. Caldenfor
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    Caldenfor Member

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    Go watch Mean Girls =0

    Or um... wait, I have never seen that movie(lie). You must study more of what you do not understand to better understand it and make it your own.
     
  3. KMilz
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    KMilz Member

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    Yeah, I can agree with you there. Happen to have any strong suggestions on a good place to start?
     
  4. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Don't force it, just focus on the character's personality and not the fact she's female. That will lead to clichés everywhere. I don't think any amount of tips or research is going to make you accurately cover how a girl thinks and what she does...because every girl is different.
    I'm writing as a male in first person and I'm a girl. I find it a lot more easier when I'm not saying to myself 'Oh no, he's got to sound like a stereotypical boy!'
     
  5. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Write them as individuals with individual, realistic character traits, and I think the "girly" and "boyish" traits will fade.
     
  6. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just focus on character. One of my main recurring protagonists is female and I don't really let that define her. Certainly it's a factor, but it's not that big of one. Character comes first.
     
  7. KMilz
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    KMilz Member

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    All good advice, thanks everyone. I just feel like men and women think in an entirely different way, and I think you can often see the difference when reading books by male and female authors. The writing style is different because they view the world differently.

    Now, I could definitely be wrong here, but that's how I always imagined it. You know, men from Mars, women from Venus and all that?

    Still, you're all right. Just focus on her character and the rest will come naturally. Thanks guys!
     
  8. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Men tend to focus facts, the bottom line, and proving themself/ strutting their stuff. Women tend to focus on emotions, wander a bit when they talk (although the connections make perfect sense to them), and want to match.

    I know you know a thousand people who are exceptions to this but if you can line your characters' traits to fall in with a few generalizations about their gender and let a couple traits fall just outside of the norm you'll have a pretty normal person without making them cliche.
     
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  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are several threads about this, I'm sure you coulkd find a lot of useful advice searching through them.
    Pick up a couple of books by male authors who writes about females and study how they are doing. Study girls in the age of your mc and see how they behave. Maybe there's someone you know (I don't know how old you are) who could serve as a role model to base this character upon. Besides from that I think a third person limited pov would probably work best in this case. being a male and writing a female from first person pov would probably be a little too much of a challenge. ;)
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    how old are you, km?... and how many girls that age have you been on intimate terms with [and no, i don't mean just sexually or romantically, but as close friends or relatives], that you've 'hung out with' and spent enough time with to get to know how they act/speak/think/feel?

    if your answer is anything less than 'several' fitting the parameters i listed, then you won't be able to make your characters believeable without a lot of serious, in-depth research...

    well put, cal!
     
  11. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    I agree with the others who say that the gender shouldn't define your character. Teenaged girls aren't all boy crazy, horse loving, pink wearing, cell phone texting, sociopaths (although I do think a lot of teenaged girls are sociopaths LOL). Just like teenaged boys aren't all sport loving, steak eating, hormone crazy, aggressive, meat heads.

    Her sex is female, but beyond that she's a person with individual tastes and personality that will give her depth. And I would avoid making her overly emotional just because women are "supposed to be" flighty, emotional wrecks.

    It's important to remember that gender is a cultural construct that our society nurtures. If you treat her as a person foremost and a woman second, I think you will make a believable MC.
     
  12. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I don't think men and women are really all that different. They do act differently, but the difference is mostly superficial - the deep down feelings are the same.

    For example, you know the stereotype that girls want relationships while boys just want to get laid? Well, this one qualititative study interviewing boys about their girlfriends made it pretty clear that boys want relationships too. They just don't discuss those feelings with their friends as much.
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    On average they tend to think in somewhat different ways. Individuals are not necessarily average. Do you want to write a stereotype or do you want to write an individual?
     

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