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  1. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    What do both Male & Females look for in Novels?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by 33percent, Jul 17, 2018.

    I'm trying to balance my book where both genders would enjoy it sorta like Hunger Games or Harry Potter, Game of Thrones. I don't want to stereotype what usually men and woman seek for in books. It seems in my general opinion that what both genders seek in books are vastly different. As a guy myself, I don't have much an interest in romance stories but I do enjoy reading action thriller, adventure, fights scene type of books. Which may be my flaw trying to add a romantic sub plot in my book because it's one area I never took interest in reading.

    One of my friends, he did a soft beta read on my book, he enjoyed it mainly because it had a lot of action, adventure but he did mentioned woman may not be interested in it. My friend did say one of my chapters was truly realistic which he enjoyed. I had a female beta reader who's review was quite the opposite, she wanted to either punch my MC or me, biggest complaint she had on MC, he was whiny and immature(which I did on purpose). Besides my MC, she had some other complaints that I had made my story too "one sided" in a guys PoV. I had a few chapters which were originally the first are now past memory chapters that are threaded in the book.

    Which got me thinking about doing more research on what both genders mainly look for in a novel. Does action, adventure, action thriller type of books draw majority of men while the opposite like romance are an attracted read for woman? I sat down with my writing counselor my college, she did her review take on it what she found offensive but not personal was describing a gorgeous woman the MC was attracted to. One area I talked about was the attracted woman cleavage, which she found as offensive. We joked about it, being almost the same as if female author describing a guys 6 pack in fine detail. Just having beta readers of both opposite genders have got me doing some research. I might have to just accept it might be a guy book which men would generally would pick up and read and just focus on writing a good story for my type of audience.
     
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  2. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    as soon as you start writing to others expectations, it's not your story. Write your story, your expression, let the readership take care of itself
     
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm a woman. I care about character. I have no objection to action and adventure, but I demand that the characters be interesting. I don't need romance, but I suppose I do need some sort of understanding and bond between characters. Friendship will do just fine for that bond.

    So if romantic subplots don't work for you, don't bother--go with character complexity and friendship instead.

    I'm curious as to why you wanted the MC to be whiny and immature. Is this the beginning of a character arc that will end with him improving those traits, or...?
     
  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Women like one kind of story, men like another -- That's a bit sexist.
     
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    I agree with you in theory, but gender marketing has been proven repeatedly. "Woman's fiction," for example, is its own genre category, which is kind of weird, but here we are. That goes for most other products, too, but advertisers have honed demographics to the nth degree.
     
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  6. GlitterRain7

    GlitterRain7 Galaxy Girl Contributor

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    Are you in first person or third person? Reason I ask is because if you're in first of course it's going to seem like a guy's POV, since your MC is a guy. If you're in third, well, it would probably be possible to make it seem less masculine. I don't really have any ideas on how, though, as I usually write first person.
     
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  7. O.M. Hillside

    O.M. Hillside Senior Member

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    It is sexist, but that's not a bad thing because men and women are different and look for different things. The following are generalizations, things I've observed throughout my life from personal experience. I'm open to input if you think I'm way off the mark. But, pretty sure this is how things tend to go, like it or not.

    I agree with Some Guy that you probably shouldn't worry about this too much, but it doesn't hurt to know a little bit about this. If you're trying to appeal to mainstream demographics, then your audience is pretty much just women. Men don't read fiction as much. Men read more technical things or non-fiction stories. Why? Because -- generally -- men are more interested in things, women are more interested in emotions. Things tend to follow a logical path which, when you understand it, is relatively simple to understand. So for example, a boy might be interested in guns so he'll read a lot about guns and how they work, and the different brands, the history of guns, and how they are used in real life. At some point he'll probably develop more sophisticated interest and start caring about bigger themes like justice, responsibility of using a weapon, protecting yourself and others, etc. And, to be honest, once he knows enough, unless he's particularly interested in reading, he won't read much at all. If you want to get him to read a story, best bet is to give him a non-fiction story where guns are used, or a story which explores the themes I mentioned in a complex but engaging way. My dad's a programmer, so when he does read -- which is rare, btw -- he'll read software manuals and success stories of people in the software industry. Main interests of men are going to revolve around some kind of field. I was into programming for awhile as well, and since I'm a more creative/imaginative person, I didn't care as much about reading the manuals unless I needed to solve a particular problem. I did enjoy reading about AI, what's going on in the world of AI, the people who are developing AI, etc. I also enjoyed reading about neurology and trying to translate what I learned about the brain into a programming paradigm.

    I think women are more interested in the romance genre, not only because romance is a bigger part of a woman's life than a man's, but also because romance books tend to explore the emotions that women feel during courtship, dating, marriage and beyond and everything in between. Men don't like the romance genre as much, but men do like romance but from a male's perspective. In other words, the romance cannot be the point of the story for a man in most cases. The romance should be a side thing while he prepares to fight the dragon. If a man cares about certain fields, a woman's interests revolves around their love life and their lifestyle. And they're also more interested in the emotions. A solid book for women is going to explore more emotions that women care about than just in their love life. Like, consider action. For a man, the point of action is: the action itself, and that the hero ultimately uses his skills to overcome the confrontation, and also how he does it. Like literally what did he do to overcome it? That is huge and if you describe that extensively, and you do it well, that appeals to men. Women care more about the implications of the confrontation. Why is this guy shooting these people? Is he trying to save someone? Who is this person that they would inspire this guy to risk his life like this to save them? They're not going to want to know the nitty gritty of how the guy overcame these people as much. So you can write a similar situation of a hero taking on a bunch of thugs to save someone but the main thing a woman would be interested in is the emotional subtext that is compelling the characters to act the way they act.
     
  8. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Sorry, @O.M. Hillside. I couldn't even get through your post. I had to stop when you said women read more fiction. WTF? For real??? Every man I know reads, and some of them read books by women. And women like all kinds of books. Just because there is chick lit, doesn't mean that's what women are meant to read. Come on, people. Are your worlds full of stereotypes and gender roles? I'm going to stop here and try to stay out of this discussion. Mainly, because it's stupid. And I would like to think I have better things to do with my time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
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  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm going to go with my own stereotype and suggest that women are more interested in human interaction--meeting, learning about other people, interpersonal discovery, negotiation, communication, interpretation, all that stuff. Romances have that, but that doesn't require romance. There are countless fascinating character interactions without romance--Spock versus McCoy, Arya versus Tywin, Richard Kimble versus Gerard, The Mayor and Faith, Val and Earl, Kay and Jay, Han and Chewie...yeah, I'm going with TV and movies, because it's likely that a larger percentage of us have seen them.
     
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  10. Jenissej

    Jenissej Professional Lurker Supporter Contributor

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    There are two major logical errors I see in your premise: first, you're assuming the female beta not liking the book stems from her being female. Being male/female/other is neither the only nor the most defining trait for a person's taste in fiction. Second, you're assuming that because female A has an opinion, the same is true for female B. It is not, simple as that.

    Not all women want romance in their fiction. I am a woman and I like action over romance. I'll also generally walk past anything labelled "for women" (except if it's the medical aisle) because that's a sure indicator that whatever is being advertised, it is going to be tailored to bad gender stereotypes at the expense of quality. If you're not interested in writing romance, don't.

    In my opinion, you're too set in the gender divide. Learn to separate the critique from the person who gave it. If someone says "you need a romance subplot", just consider if you really do, not if the critique-givers genitals have anything to do with it. If someone says "your MC is whiny and annoying", well maybe he is, consider it and discard the criticism if you find it to be incorrect.

    The moment you start altering your story to fit a specific demographic, it's not the same story anymore and it might even stop being a good one. Action books aren't guy-books, they're people-who-like-action-books. And if that happens to be mainly male readers so what? What matters is that you write a good, consistent story with convincing, three-dimensional characters and without relying on old chlichés. And if your MC can only solve the conflict by cancelling the fairytale wedding, lopping their partner's head off, stealing a big-ass diamond and riding off into the sunset on a Harley, I'll be fucking disappointed if they don't.
     
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  11. O.M. Hillside

    O.M. Hillside Senior Member

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    It is a fact that women read more fiction than men. What I'm saying are generalizations, not stereotypes. And don't tell me it's wrong to generalize. You're doing it too. You're saying that every man you know reads, therefore the wider population of men must also read. The difference is my generalization is actually not my own based just on my experience, but what I'm saying there is actually statistically accounted for. I'll post a link at the bottom of my reply to you. If your main contention with my post is that I'm assuming there's a difference at all between men and women, then I don't know what to tell you. If you think I might have gotten something wrong, I'm happy to discuss that. But, what you pointed out about every man you know reading, while great, is not the rule. I know plenty of men who read, only a couple of them read fiction. I know one guy who happens to be into classics like Anna Karenina, and one guy who's very into comics and sci/fi. But most people I meet don't really read. The few who do are women who like to read stuff like The Hunger Games or Divergent. You might have more men than women interested in niche markets, like scifi/fantasy, but by and large, women read more than men.

    I also think it's kind of silly to assume that being a reader is a trait which is inherently superior to not being a reader. The general assumption is that reading is good, but only because it helps you to learn. If you read for entertainment, then good for you, but you're not better than someone who reads only to learn something and watches TV for entertainment. So, I say this just to let you know I am not saying anyone is better or worse than anyone else. It's just facts.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/10/01/nea_survey_on_2012_reading_habits_women_continue_to_read_more_than_men.html <-- This one states that not only do women read more than men, especially in fiction, but also that people in general read a lot less than they used to.

    Yeah I agree with that too. It's not one or the other imo. Meeting people, building up wide social circles, and understanding people is a skill that women tend to be better at than men. That's what helps them to find a good mate. For men to find good mates, it helps to do all of that to some extent, but they mostly want to be very successful in some kind of field. Things are different now and women actually have more options to where they could either find someone to take care of them or also work, but men don't really have the option to find anyone. So, their focus is not going to be on people.
     
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  12. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    I haven't had much beta female readers just guys. The MC is the little brother type, lost his older brother, hates his dead-end job, get's friendzoned, girl he has a crush on gives him no notice, doesn't have a general idea of how the world works etc. I did this on purpose to give him an arch in character development. I guess the MC generally talks to guys, and few side female characters. Besides the first 4 chapters set in our time, just didn't flow right to the core of the story which is sci-fi. So now I organized the chapters into past memories for the MC reflect on where he effed up on.

    End of the day, a book is a product that needs to be sold regardless of what it is. The marketing side is truly sexist then.
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    This could be an issue with your female reader.
     
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  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    You’ve really lost me now.
     
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  15. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Sorry, but I'm so sick of these nonsense "facts" that keep popping up lately. It's a writers forum not a place to push your sexist views. Do you even write or I you just trying to make a point which is definitely not true in the world I live in?
     
  16. O.M. Hillside

    O.M. Hillside Senior Member

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    I'm not saying my views are facts, I'm saying that women read more than men is a fact.

    And you're right, this is for writing, but I see what I said as part of the natural progression of the discussion the guy put forth.

    And one, I don't need to prove myself to you, but yes I write. Two, what's the problem with anything I said? Everything I said basically boils down to well-known gender differences. I never said that either one was better than the other. So, technically, it is sexist because I'm differentiating between the sexes. But I'm not being any of a number of buzzwords you can levy against me from misogynist to whatever. And I understand that what I said doesn't apply to everyone, just most people.

    I can tell my opinion here isn't very popular and that's fine, I don't really care. If you want to tell me how I'm wrong, I'm glad to hear it. If you're going to just tell me I'm sexist and dismiss me, then I'm not going to engage anymore.
     
  17. O.M. Hillside

    O.M. Hillside Senior Member

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    Sorry to hear it. The truth of human nature always goes back to what has pre-historically helped us in two areas: not dying and making babies. That goes for men and women. If you don't want to consider that, that's fine.
     
  18. Jenissej

    Jenissej Professional Lurker Supporter Contributor

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    It might be time to move this discussion to the Debate Room.
     
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  19. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    I just want to give the readers money worth reading my story regardless of who it is. You're right I need to take their criticism for their face value like black and white. I haven't had much female beta readers at all, then having the first one giving me a negative review was like getting stung by a wasp, made really me step back and relook at it. She was supposed to edit it on the cheap but I guess she got so offended by it she didn't bother. I did put a lot of realistic situations and people in the chapters that I experienced in real life. Once I explained to her to the core and theme of my story, she had a different tone on it which is why I am starting off in the Sci Fi realm of it. I added a romance subplot on my own to make it more interesting and rather cater to people who enjoy action thriller books.
     
  20. Jenissej

    Jenissej Professional Lurker Supporter Contributor

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    Well, to me 'my money's worth' isn't exactly a book that's been made for the sales count. But that's an opinion, obviously.

    This here might be your problem. I think it's safe to assume everyone likes to see themselves/the group they feel they belong to represented in a good way. If your female characters only serve as sidekicks or eye candy (i.e. their attractiveness and value for the story reduced to their physical appearance) for the male MC, I can see why a female reader would find that critical or offensive.

    Please do not take this as a personal attack, but you seem to be quite set on gender categories/stereotypes. While they are not inherently bad or without cause, there are definitely ones that should have no place in a modern society and that can be a hindrance when trying to write a good story. A non-historical fiction story at that.
    It is good that you try to write realistic scenes but be aware, by basing them on your own experiences you will automatically include your own biases. Please keep in mind that women are no aliens utterly different from the human male. We are people and we are all individuals.

    I'd recommend you to re-read your story looking for trope-traps you might have stepped into, especially regarding gender roles. These here could be useful to you:

    The Bechdel Test
    Gender Dynamics
    Men act, Women are
    Double Standards
    Fridging

    ETA: of course, tropes are tools so if they serve a purpose in your story, by all means, use them. But keep a critical eye on why you use them
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
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  21. Linz

    Linz Active Member

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    Wow! I . . . I don't know where to begin!

    I'm a woman. My dad (obviously) is a man. Both of us read, and both of us read fiction.

    My mum's partner (male) also reads. His and my taste in books are actually quite similar in that we go for the plot that grabs our attention over genre or stereotypes. We also both read non-fiction. Main difference is, he reads superhero comic books, and my reaction to comic books is ------>:bigmeh: :sleepy:

    Dad went from reading horror, to reading war stories. I was actually the one who helped him find his new favourite author - Bernard Cornwall. I've borrowed and read all the Sharpe and most of the Uhtred of Bebbenberg (sp?) From him, and many of the Macro and Cato stories by Scarrow. Women's fiction generally doesn't do much for me, and yet, one of my favourite books is Pride and Prejudice.

    So I have no problem reading books that are more action-based, or male-dominated. I don't mind if there are few, if any, female characters - if the MCs are engaging and realistic. I don't have to have romantic plot or sub plot.

    But, I see your beta-reader's point, @33percent , because a whiny character is a sure-fire way of putting me off, too - especially if it's the MC. I have one in my novels. He's a minor character obsessed with the female MC, who can't stand him. He's not there to be liked - he's there to be despised. As my male protag would say, it's like being stuck in the bathroom with a wasp - he's not even worth hating, he's just annoying. He's the kind of character you just want to grab by the shoulders, give him a darned good shake, and yell, "grow the fuck up!"
     
  22. Linz

    Linz Active Member

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    Just asked my dad if he would enjoy a book with a whiney and immature main character. His response -"All I would want to do, is murder the main character, so no, I wouldn't read it."

    Take from that what you will. :bigwink:
     
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  23. DeeDee

    DeeDee Contributor Contributor

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    But what about readers from the 31 other genders? :wotwot:
     
  24. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Not just fiction. More of everything, except history and biography, apparently. But what you'll find from this link is that while explanations (biological or otherwise) abound to try to account for the discrepancy, it isn't possible to say that any given explanation is the definitive answer: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14175229
     
  25. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    But if women are out-reading men in all categories of fiction, then this idea doesn't hold up so well, whether there is a genre category for it or not. It turns out, all fiction is "women's fiction." As the NPR article I linked above states:

    When it comes to fiction, the gender gap is at its widest. Men account for only 20 percent of the fiction market, according to surveys conducted in the U.S., Canada and Britain.

    By this measure, "chick-lit" would have to include Hemingway and nearly every other novel, observes Lakshmi Chaudhry in the magazine In These Times. "Unlike the gods of the literary establishment who remain predominately male—both as writers and critics—their humble readers are overwhelmingly female."
     
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