1. Kyle Phoenix

    Kyle Phoenix Member

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    Male and Female Writing Styles and Character Voices

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kyle Phoenix, Jul 8, 2020.

    When you read other people's work or write your own, are you aware of any particular quirks that may be related to your gender? Does the subject matter vary particularly for instance because particular genres are dominated writers of by one gender or another?

    If a woman wrote under a pseudonym as a man or vice versa,, it is actually possible to tell the difference?

    If you are trying to write a character that is a different gender of your own, are there any things to avoid?
     
  2. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

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    Generally speaking, on average, not all men blah blah blah, men tend to focus more on things and women tend to focus more on people/relationships. (This is why women generally dominate romance while men dominate political thrillers).

    That being said, the MC of my project is female. Some of her tics are related to being a woman, but by and large you should focus on making a character a person before being a woman, white, black, Christian, gay, Muslim, whatever. People who base their whole identity around their sex, religion or race are stupid and dumb and boring.
     
  3. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

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    I think that's too much emphasis, Joker. A person is a wide variety of characteristics, and ethnicity and religion speak into that, like a combination of coordinated colors.

    But more on topic, I guess there's not so much a difference in the way men and women talk, so much as there is in the mentality -- like what you think about what you talk. For example, I've notice that more women than men go out of their way to encourage someone feeling down by telling them they're not as bad as they think. Men tend to encourage others by saying there's a way out of their situation.
     
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  4. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

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    Oh I won't deny that. I'm a straight white man. I love me some NASCAR and metal music, and I probably wouldn't if I was a black woman.

    That being said, if I made being a straight white man the central focus of my being, I'd probably be some neckbeard internet Nazi loser. Hard pass.
     
  5. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Slipping away across the universe Contributor

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    I guess ive never really thought about this after college. In my genre fiction class, we had to read a chuck palahnuik and a book written by a woman (i forget...i remember palahnuik because his book was set in my city and i knew the places he references lol). Anyways, the professor pointed out how he wrote a woman character vs how the lady author wrote her woman character. Palahnuik sexualized the woman and the encounter, before and after he slept with her. Basically saying the character was just for sex. The woman character "romanticized" the encounter.


    Other than that, im reading The Colorless TSukuri Tazaki by Murikami. And i dont notice a BIG difference.

    I dont THINK i write my male.and female characters differently..... I have 3 WIPs with a male main character
     
  6. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

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    As much as I love The Witcher, I was rolling my eyes the umpteenth time Andrej described in intimate detail how hot the zillionth sorceress Geralt banged was.
     
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  7. Aled James Taylor

    Aled James Taylor Contributor Contributor

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    This is a good example of how a woman would say something. She starts by giving background details of how she comes to know what she's about to say before answering the question. In contrast, a man would give a more direct answer, only justifying it afterwards if asked.
     
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  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Banned Contributor

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    Andre Norton fooled me up until I found out she was using a pen name.
    So, I will say no on that one, since her stories are fun to read. :)

    Though as of late in more modern books, I question if people even know
    how to write their own species, let alone their own gender. o_O
     
  9. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    ... Says the green alien. :D
     
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  10. Proficere

    Proficere Member

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    There are a lot of times where I read something and think to myself 'This was written by a dude, wasn't it?' followed by 'no woman is like this in real life'.
    It becomes unbelievable, no differently than a ripped man getting all the ladies like it's some Axe commercial. Except instead of a man, it's a woman getting all other women.

    Also back in the days when I did intimate RP's I would shake my head and ask "you're a dude in real life, right? Lady parts don't function like that..." or "you might want to give your female, medieval character more than just a chest plate and big breasts- they would hurt moving around that much".
     
  11. Proficere

    Proficere Member

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    I loved the game because you had the option to make him a level headed badass.
    But then when I read the books...? I fell out of love very quickly, and do not care to read the other books about a horny/troubled dude trying to get his goth GF.
     
  12. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

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    Eh, that dies down after the first book.
     
  13. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    The focus seems to be different. Women tend to write about women who want some kind of affirmation. Men tend to write about men accomplishing something.
     
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  14. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    Back in the day when I was light-hearted and fun loving internet "troll" (not one of those mean ones), I read that men tend to speak/write more directly (I liked masquerading as different genders because it was still funny in 2009). For instance:

    Person: "Can you meet up for lunch at 2?"

    Sarah: "I think I have a meeting later."
    Stan: "I have a meeting later."

    Or another way to put it is men are more declarative and women are less forceful.
     
  15. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    But there's significant variation within each sex. As a (relatively) conflict averse male, I would align with Sarah. I've had to teach myself not to equivocate. But I'm sure your example is accurate in a general sense.
     
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  16. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Banned Contributor

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    Well they don't call it the Law of Averages for nothing. :)
     
  17. More

    More Active Member

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    It's a good question, but I don't think there is a satisfying answer. Frankenstein is an example of the problem. You could not say it was written by a women, if you did a blind reading . But if you do know the authors gender , you can see the feminine aproche to the story . There are no heroes and the monster is not a monster but a victim . There is a sensitivity in the story that is feminine . That is not to say a man can't write with a feminine style . There are a number of Victorian women that wrote with a pseudonym , it was easier for men to get published . So the conclusion to my little ramble .There is definitively different styles of writing but it impossible to know the gender of the writer.
     
  18. LitWhispers

    LitWhispers Member

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    Frankenstein is an amazing example.
    I think that writing styles are heavily influenced by the writers' life, and we know that the difference between genders, religions and other characteristics can heavily influence one's livelihood. However, we have to be careful of stereotypes. Women have, throughout history, been claimed as lesser in many ways, which is why fewer women went published than men. Often, people would criticize their style as "less innovative" much like with any other art form. This played a significant part in literature "for women" and why it started walking its own path. This is true of many, many other media and art forms, and true of many aspects of life itself. But I'm rambling.
    To get back to my point, gender roles play a significant part in the way we interact with people. I have seen this first hand because of my personal background, and it doesn't necessarily have to be about gender itself -- rather gender identity. And even then, when I sit down at my desk to write, I become a completely different person and I wouldn't write my stories the same as I'm writing this comment right now. I believe it's common of a lot of people. (Worth noting that I am gender non-conforming.)
    In a way, gender (and gender identity) can definitely influence someone's writing style, but because there are so many counter-examples of this, you can never be sure of anything.
     
  19. Cloudymoon

    Cloudymoon Member

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    Bad writing. (I'm not being facetious. If you write well - from inside your character - you won't need to avoid anything.)
     
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  20. Cloudymoon

    Cloudymoon Member

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    Whoops, don't know what happened there. The second line in the quote box above is mine.
     
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  21. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    There are masculine women and feminine men. A man with strong feminine traits will talk/write like a female, more concerned with connection and emotions and sensitivity etc. A masculine female will come across like a man—headstrong, maybe physically powerful, less concerned about the feelings of others etc.

    It's important to keep in mind when people talk about 'men and women' they're really talking about masculine and feminine traits, which can be distributed in unexpected ways. I've known women who come across like linebackers and men you'd swear were females. I mean, speaking of Mary Shelley, take a look at her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and many of the other Romantic poets, who wrote about how sensitive they were, how exquisite their feelings were, and fantasized about being passive empty vessels being strummed like a lyre by emotions and sensations.

    Here's a portrait of Percy Shelley:
    [​IMG]

    And of Mary Shelley:
    [​IMG]

    So it's really not enough to just talk about the differences between men and women, but it makes a lot more sense to talk about masculinity and femininity as it manifests in various men and women.

    It may be a little more complicated than that, since male and female brains are different.

    "Male brains utilize nearly seven times more gray matter for activity while female brains utilize nearly ten times more white matter. What does this mean?

    Gray matter areas of the brain are localized. They are information- and action-processing centers in specific splotches in a specific area of the brain. This can translate to a kind of tunnel vision when they are doing something. Once they are deeply engaged in a task or game, they may not demonstrate much sensitivity to other people or their surroundings.

    White matter is the networking grid that connects the brain’s gray matter and other processing centers with one another. This profound brain-processing difference is probably one reason you may have noticed that girls tend to more quickly transition between tasks than boys do. The gray-white matter difference may explain why, in adulthood, females are great multi-taskers, while men excel in highly task-focused projects."

    Source
    I'm not sure how this works in more feminine males and more masculine females. But it does make sense that the masculine and feminine traits are different in the ways they are, since males and females complement (complete) each other. Together they form a more complete whole, addressing each others' weaknesses.

    The masculine traits make for excellent warriors, hunters, problem-solvers and protectors, while the feminine traits create connection and emotional development in the family. Both totally necessary and complementary to each other (rather than opposed to).
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
  22. Lazaares

    Lazaares Active Member

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    Absolutely. I am mostly involved with text-based roleplay when it comes to the writing of others, but exposed to it on a daily basis, en-masse. Very easy to separate based on social conventions / constructs shining through writing. And because of this, I will highlight what was mentioned by @Xoic right above; it is more about feminine / masculine norms and conventions than gender, sexuality or identity. Mary Shelley's writing is overwhelmingly muscular and the most effeminate storyteller I know (who fits every feminine convention/observation) is my cis/hetero brother.

    I write muscular, and it has been pointed out to me that this applies heavily to my female characters; I have been given some compliments on powerful female characters I write that I ascribe to a mixture of feminine aspects and mascule style of "on-point" plotlines and attitudes.

    At the same time, I was also pointed out that my writing "pops from testosterone" in the aspect that there's always tension, competition and people trying to overwhelm/overcome others, in every single scene and dialogue.

    Both of the above I derive from the fact that I was raised a male in a male-dominated conservative household and I've been instilled with ideals of ambition, meritocracy, push and benevolent conflict. I expect anyone raised in such an environment will by nature write different characters and plots than those with a more liberal/progressive upbringing. I ... don't know why my brother's storytelling is so vastly different.
     
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  23. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    in general its a bad idea to generalise
     
  24. Fervidor

    Fervidor Active Member

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    Honestly, I'm not even entirely sure what's up with my own gender identity in the first place. For a while now I've been suspecting I may be some variation of non-binary, though it's kinda subtle so I can't be certain.

    I definitely have a strong preference for female characters, though, and tend to relate to them better than male ones.

    Possible, yes, but I seriously doubt one could do so reliably. At best you may be able to pull off a reasonably educated guess, assuming this person expresses themselves in what you could recognize as a traditionally male or female manner. But it would still be just a guess.

    I mean, I have decades of experience with internet discussion fora, but I genuinely can't tell if the people I speak to online are male or female without some obvious indicator or open disclosure on their part. Unless they are making a deliberate effort to appear masculine or feminine, men and women don't really behave or reason much differently when reduced down to neutral screen names and text. And even if there are subtle differences... well, some men have feminine traits, and some women have masculine traits.

    I knew this one person on a fanfiction forum who absolutely refused to disclose their gender one way or another, and actually encouraged us to treat them as whatever gender we came to view them as. I considered him to be male, while others treated her as female. (I'm not sure, but I suspect we tended to see our own gender in him/her.) He was cool with it either way, since she got to be treated as one of the boys while also being girly with the girls. Honestly, it was kinda brilliant.

    To this day I have no idea what gender that person actually was. But also, I don't really care because he was a smart, funny, well-mannered fellow and a good friend, and that's really all that matters.

    I guess, don't generalize. If all that My Little Pony fanfiction taught me anything valuable, it's that there's a lot of different ways to be a girl. Or a boy, for that matter.

    Regardless if they are male or female, people are individuals with individual qualities. Some girls are very girly, while others are tomboys. Some men may be very macho, while others are very meek. And those are just the extremes; there's a lot of room for variation.

    Whether or not certain qualities are viewed as desirable in a gender somewhat depends on the society you are portraying, of course. But anyone who actually thinks men and women respectively "should" behave in a specific manner that clearly delineates their genders probably has some issues to work out regarding their perception of their own masculinity/femininity.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
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  25. ThunderAngel

    ThunderAngel Contributor Contributor

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    The trend I've noticed in my books is about a 70% comfort-zone with writing female/feminine characters; and a 30% comfort-zone writing male/masculine characters. My style of writing, however, is quite feminine, in that I tend to emphasize first-person emotional content over semi-detached third-person descriptions of emotional content.

    I think this is a very interesting phenomena because of the variability of human expression, which really can be inversely-related to one's physical gender. Percy Shelly being a feminine, expressive writer while his wife, Mary, was decidedly masculine in her's: The Modern Prometheus.

    My girlfriend and I are kind of similar: she's very masculine in look and mannerism. She doesn't write; but she enjoys working on motorcycles, getting tattoos, wearing leather and boots, and hanging out with her biker-friends. I'm her inverse: I'm a girly goth: I love visual art; writing; designing my own dresses and accessories; wearing heels and cosmetics, gaming, and hanging out with my online friends.

    She loves to be out and about; I love to be at home. Somehow, this unusual relationship we have works. And, if she was a writer, I know precisely how her books would read: very 'matter of factly'; just like Marry Shelley's Frankenstein. Her fiction would read more like a journalist's report with a little embellishment here and there for dramatic effect.
     
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