This is post is a general outline for how to TEACH YOURSELF how to write like the opposite gender.
As a writer, it is your job to figure out what other people are thinking. Even the opposite gender. Where does she spend her time? Why is he looking at me like that? What kind of person would do that? For some, the mind of the opposite sex is a mystery.
For some writers, this poses a difficult problem, often resulting in poorly written stereotypes. So, I want to share a few tips with you on how you can write as either sex (and anything in between).
If you’ve gotten this far, I’m going to assume you are aware of the anatomical differences between women and men. And yes, you should probably work those into your character.
As a writer, you need to focus on more than the surface. You need to think about what makes your character tick.
- What do they think about being a man/woman/other?
- How do they present themselves (clothes, posture, etc.)?
- How do they react towards others of their own gender?
- How do they react to other genders?
- How does the world they live in react to their gender?
If you’re having trouble with any of these things, go talk to your friends, your siblings, someone you can read pretty well, and watch how they interact with their world. Try not to freak them out though (this is an important skill to learn)! Listen to the way they talk, the things they left unsaid, the way they position themselves, or check themselves out in the mirror. Watch how they interact with the world around them.
There. That’s it. You are now officially certified to write someone of the opposite gender. The first and only lesson to writing someone of the opposite gender is that first, you must write a human being.
Know Your Audience
More women read romance novels than men. More men read military science fiction than women. Does this matter? You bet your sweet androgynous ass it does.
If you’re going to get the attention of these people, you need to write what they want to read. It’s probably fine to skimp on the depth of that hunky piece of man-meat in your romance novel, but you have to nail the voice of the female protagonist.
It is ridiculous to say that one gender thinks more about relationships, or sex, or emotions than the other. But don’t let that stop you from creating horribly offensive stereotypes. Just look at this story written in tandem by a female and male student.
Seriously, though. If you need a stereotypical manly-man, or an obvious, curvaceous seductress your imagination can conjure, feel free. There are no rules in writing, only strongly worded suggestions.
But take a look at the fantasy series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ (written by the deceptively cherubic George R. R. Martin). In his books, he writes stereotypical characters with a purpose: to turn them into deep, complex, unexpected champions. For example, one character, Sansa, is the perfect princess in the beginning of the series, but as Martin explores her character, she evolves into a devious, self-saving, woman of inner strength.
After everything, that really is the key to writing the opposite sex: Everyone is complex, everyone is a mystery (even to themselves, at times), and the first thing you should worry about is writing human beings. All people have this tendency to grow, and so should your characters.
Writing Challenge: From the Perspective of the Opposite Gender
You’ve got an interview with a small company, and you’re about to meet your new boss. You’re called into the boss’s office, and they appear too interested in you. You realize that your soon-to-be boss is hitting on you, hard. How do you react?
Pay special attention to how your character talks, how they move, and especially how they feel about these overt advances. Tell me how it goes!