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Am I Overthinking the Whole Female vs. Male Point-Of-Views?! (1 Viewer)

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MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
I think I'm overthinking the whole subject matter of the difference between writing from a Female's First-Person perspective vs. a Male's First-Person perspective. I'm a male author and I'm writing a female hero in the first-person perspective. I want to get inside her head and share her thought process. I know I've asked this before but every time I ask how a female thinks versus how a male thinks, there's been no set-in-stone answer. Sure, a man usually has more testosterone than a woman and a woman usually has more estrogen than a man. Not always true. A woman can get just as angry/frustrated/pissed off/tough/physically intimidating as a man can and a man can be just as soft/gentle/nurturing as a woman. I obviously know that not all women are nurturing.

When it comes to writing a female hero vs. a male hero in the First-Person perspective, I don't think there should be any difference. Lots of people tell me that when I finish the story I should hand it off to female friends to read it just to make sure my character sounds/thinks "feminine"? I'm a bit confused by that. Does my female hero have to worry about putting on make-up, wearing perfume, wearing a purse and fancy outfits all the time of her life? Not all women are like that. Some don't like spending money on makeup and clothes. Some like to get dirty and ride ATVs and motorcycles and things like that, similar to their male counterparts. To me, there's nothing a female can't do that a male can.

My female hero is very tough. Is there a certain way she should talk? She's not a pushover and not very merciful.
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
Yes, yes you are. The first priority in writing is to make the character believable. It doesn't matter how tough, vulnerable, loved, hated, compassionate, cruel, aggressive, passive, feminine, masculine, human or something else the character is if no one believes the character. Any reader can tell you if the character is believable or not.

Get over the obsession the ultimate female needs to be blah-blah-blah to be happy and get on with the writing.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
We have more things in common with females than we don't ... many more things. I always get a little perturbed when I'm told I'm in touch with my 'feminine side'. No I'm not. I'm in touch with honesty, integrity, honour, dignity, sincerity and all the things that makes a human caring and understanding. Whether I use that side of me all the time is another question!

Yeah, don't worry. Just write it.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
I'll chime in as well, yes you are. When my son asked how he should go about talking to girls I said, "Talk to them like people because they are."

Think of your characters like they're people. If you thought about and then described how people that you know act and seem to think that's a much better way to go about building characters than to worry about all this male and female business. If you do something unrealistic your beta readers will call it out and want to discuss it. So just write!
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Lots of people tell me that when I finish the story I should hand it off to female friends to read it just to make sure my character sounds/thinks "feminine"? I'm a bit confused by that. Does my female hero have to worry about putting on make-up, wearing perfume, wearing a purse and fancy outfits all the time of her life? Not all women are like that. Some don't like spending money on makeup and clothes. Some like to get dirty and ride ATVs and motorcycles and things like that, similar to their male counterparts. To me, there's nothing a female can't do that a male can.

First off, you've taken it from one extreme to the other, i.e."wear fancy outfits all the time of her life" vs "get dirty and ride ATVs and motorcycles." It's too simplistic a view of women. It almost sounds a little disrespectful. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. Start there.

Secondly, these things you mention are all physical features. I suggest you think more about thoughts and motivations. On a day that she chooses to get dressed up and go out or dress down and hit the ATV path, what's driving her choices? How do these things make her feel?

My female hero is very tough. Is there a certain way she should talk? She's not a pushover and not very merciful.

Most people who are "tough", are like that for a reason. So again, I would suggest thinking of her motivation for the things she says. She may have a vunerable side, like most people. If you can bring that out, I think it would enhance your dialogue. Don't just make her sound like a female Clint Eastwood...that would be boring IMO.

Are you reading any Margaret Atwood? Her women characters are great!
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
First off, you've taken it from one extreme to the other, i.e."wear fancy outfits all the time of her life" vs "get dirty and ride ATVs and motorcycles." It's too simplistic a view of women. It almost sounds a little disrespectful. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. Start there.

Secondly, these things you mention are all physical features. I suggest you think more about thoughts and motivations. On a day that she chooses to get dressed up and go out or dress down and hit the ATV path, what's driving her choices? How do these things make her feel?

Most people who are "tough", are like that for a reason. So again, I would suggest thinking of her motivation for the things she says. She may have a vunerable side, like most people. If you can bring that out, I think it would enhance your dialogue. Don't just make her sound like a female Clint Eastwood...that would be boring IMO.

Are you reading any Margaret Atwood? Her women characters are great!

One day, when my youngest daughter was four years old, she was coloring at our dining table with the five year old boy that lived next door. He had been raised to be polite and always expected the same from others in return, but was having trouble with a bully in his kindergarten class. As he was talking to my wife about his troubles, my tiny, petite daughter said - 'If that happened to me, I'd kick his ass.'

Her statement kinda took all the air out of the room. My wife insisted it was my fault, and I blamed it on my mother who had been the eldest of eleven kids - and had to fight many of their schoolyard battles for them.

My daughter has a daughter of her own now, and even though she's only about 4'11" she takes absolutely no crap from anyone.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I don’t know if the jury is still out or what, but I follow a neuroscientist who looks at what areas of the brain are used for different personalities. He says that after the reproductive years he isn’t seeing any differences in the brains between men and women. I think men and women are affected differently by different stimuli, personally. More like the report from Stanford, below. But honestly it’s all detail. Just like you can’t immediately tell if a writer on here is male or female unless you see username or unless the subject matter seems to be more male or female leaning, but otherwise the actual thought processes aren’t really different as far as I have heard and observed.

The thing Is keep in mind is truth-for-circumstance. That’s what I’m calling it for this post. Basically, given the circumstances what are the things I would feel in that circumstance? What would I do? What would this character do? Do they have the ability and the resources to do such a thing? I don’t think there is much difference between men and women that isn’t just fine detail, but how you react to certain pressures and expectations is probably about the same... and those would be huge things to write. The detailed small differences not something to focus on at all, in my opinion.



https://stanmed.stanford.edu/2017spring/how-mens-and-womens-brains-are-different.html

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00677-x
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
When it comes to writing a female hero vs. a male hero in the First-Person perspective, I don't think there should be any difference. Lots of people tell me that when I finish the story I should hand it off to female friends to read it just to make sure my character sounds/thinks "feminine"? I'm a bit confused by that.

I'd say that females should definitely read your female-POV writing, just to see if they catch anything that sounds "off". It doesn't necessarily mean looking for femininity. It could be any number of things.

It might sound ridiculous, but you'd be surprised at how many male authors write things like:

"It was that time of the month, again. And oh, my period hurt so bad, it felt like I was a guy getting kicked in the balls!" :cower:

But for the most part, I definitely agree with the others: try not to overthink it. If you know your characters well enough, the rest kind of falls into place.
 

MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
I'd say that females should definitely read your female-POV writing, just to see if they catch anything that sounds "off". It doesn't necessarily mean looking for femininity. It could be any number of things.

It might sound ridiculous, but you'd be surprised at how many male authors write things like:

"It was that time of the month, again. And oh, my period hurt so bad, it felt like I was a guy getting kicked in the balls!" :cower:

But for the most part, I definitely agree with the others: try not to overthink it. If you know your characters well enough, the rest kind of falls into place.

Oh man, I've definitely seen men writing women like that. You know, when I think about writing from First-Person perspective as my heroine, I don't think she's going to think about her period very much. Likewise, she is not going to think about her boobs all the time. Some male authors try to sexualize their female characters, especially if they are the lead character, and it's very cringe! When I pickup a book that features a female lead hero, I want to read about a human being, not the mess of a person that some male authors write. My heroine goes through a lot of shit, ups and downs, like all of us human beings down. I want to explore what goes through inside her mind during all this and how she pulls herself out of it.

For sure, when I've completed my heroine's story, I'll allow a few of my closest female friends read it and see what they think. I will write what I know. Since I'm a man, I have no idea about periods and have no idea what having boobs is like, so I won't write anything regarding that. I want my heroine to be a badass who stands on her own, and absolutely will not be sexualized. My heroine likes to be fully-clothed from head to toe due to the nature of her work and things like that.

I know my heroine very well and what her thought processes go through her head. I don't think a male mind vs. a female mind differs insanely that much at the end of the day. I think society/culture tends to preach that men and women think a lot differently but in the end we are very much the same.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Oh man, I've definitely seen men writing women like that. You know, when I think about writing from First-Person perspective as my heroine, I don't think she's going to think about her period very much. Likewise, she is not going to think about her boobs all the time. Some male authors try to sexualize their female characters, especially if they are the lead character, and it's very cringe! When I pickup a book that features a female lead hero, I want to read about a human being, not the mess of a person that some male authors write. My heroine goes through a lot of shit, ups and downs, like all of us human beings down. I want to explore what goes through inside her mind during all this and how she pulls herself out of it.

For sure, when I've completed my heroine's story, I'll allow a few of my closest female friends read it and see what they think. I will write what I know. Since I'm a man, I have no idea about periods and have no idea what having boobs is like, so I won't write anything regarding that. I want my heroine to be a badass who stands on her own, and absolutely will not be sexualized. My heroine likes to be fully-clothed from head to toe due to the nature of her work and things like that.

I know my heroine very well and what her thought processes go through her head. I don't think a male mind vs. a female mind differs insanely that much at the end of the day. I think society/culture tends to preach that men and women think a lot differently but in the end we are very much the same.

Okay so DEFINITELY get female readers. That was a good call. I am remembering that my husband is a big help when I’m writing male dialogue. He will tell me “Men wouldn’t use that word. Well, unless you want him to be a douchebag.”

You can’t help but think of your period when you’ve got it, it’s a huge inconvenience. But it’s not an inconvenience that you need to put into a story. Just like in real life you have to figure out how and where to relieve yourself (poops and pees) and so in real life you have to figure it out, in real life as a necessity you also have to think of periods. Plus you can feel horrible for a few days. No, it’s inconvenient as hell. I’m still really angry at Mother Nature for not thinking of a better way to treat her mammal daughters than to have given us periods. Budgies only lay eggs when they have a nest and are in love— that's how well their reproductive system responds to their situation.

Anyway... you’ve got all of these ideals about this girl. Make sure you come down to reality. Maybe you might even want to put in something about that first period which would surely signal a lot of pressure to get married, I would think. She might find some way to hide it? I don’t know... remember the pressures on her. What I really actually hate in books is when it doesn’t feel real, personally. Not that I need toilet and hygiene details, but I hate, for instance, when a historical fiction writer makes a character do things that are the ideals of today rather than the ideals THEN. I am someone who always is checking for realism in context. Context in general is pretty important to me, I don’t know how else to say it. But I also like fairy tales and that’s what you’re writing here if you realize it. But who doesn’t like fairy tales?

Think of our boobs? Not the way you guys do, that’s for sure. Definitely get readers!
 
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MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
Okay so DEFINITELY get female readers. That was a good call. I am remembering that my husband is a big help when I’m writing male dialogue. He will tell me “Men wouldn’t use that word. Well, unless you want him to be a douchebag.”

you can’t help but think of your period when you’ve got it, it’s a huge inconvenience. But it’s not an inconvenience that you need to put into a story. Just like in real life you have to figure out how and where to relieve yourself (poops and pees) and so in real life you have to figure it out, in real life as a necessity you also have to think of periods. Plus you can feel horrible for a few days. No, it’s inconvenient as hell. I’m still really angry at Mother Nature for not thinking of a better way to treat her mammal daughters than to have given us periods. Budgies only lay eggs when they have a nest and are in love— thats how well their reproductive system responds to their situation.

Anyway... you’ve got all of these ideals about this girl. Make sure you come down to reality. Maybe you might even want to put in something about that first period which would surely signal a lot of pressure to get married, I would think. She might find some way to hide it? I don’t know... remember the pressures on her. What I really actually hate in books is when it doesn’t feel real, personally. Not that I need toilet and hygiene details, but I hate, for instance, when a historical fiction writer makes a character do things that are the ideals of today rather than the ideals THEN. I am someone who always is checking for realism in context. Context in general is pretty important to me, I don’t know how else to say it. But I also like fairy tales and that’s what you’re writing here if you realize it. But who doesn’t like fairy tales?

Think of our boobs? Not the way you guys do, that’s for sure. Definitely get readers!

Thank you for your words! It's probably not common for a male author to write a female lead character in First-Person perspective but I feel that's the proper way to reveal my heroine to my readers. She just to so happens to break a lot of stereotypes (against having kids/against marriage). She feels family and societal pressures to get married and have kids to continue her royal bloodline. Secretly, she get surgery to get sterilized so she can't have kids and defy her bloodline...she has a couple permanent scars on her body from the surgery. If someone asks how she got her scars, she just says something like a knife/battle wound. She treats them as her private scars. I think she will eventually tell someone the truth about them but haven't got to the point how. Trying to figure out does she have the surgery before the story begins and just keep it secret (remember, I'm talking through First-Person perspective through her eyes) or does she have surgery during some point in the book?

There will be a nude scene with her in it. That's the scene she discusses the scars/tattoos on her body because she usually covers her body from head to toe. She doesn't like showing off much skin. Of course, I'll be very respectful and be careful what I say when I get to that scene.

Single, childfree women aren't portrayed very often in books/film these days. I know my character for who she is and what she wants in her life. With her story, it would be very supportive of single, childfree women. They deserve better representation in books. Most of my closest friends are single/childfree women and they are honestly the most kind, loving, ambitious, strong, brave, and badass people I have ever known.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Thank you for your words! It's probably not common for a male author to write a female lead character in First-Person perspective but I feel that's the proper way to reveal my heroine to my readers. She just to so happens to break a lot of stereotypes (against having kids/against marriage). She feels family and societal pressures to get married and have kids to continue her royal bloodline. Secretly, she get surgery to get sterilized so she can't have kids and defy her bloodline...she has a couple permanent scars on her body from the surgery. If someone asks how she got her scars, she just says something like a knife/battle wound. She treats them as her private scars. I think she will eventually tell someone the truth about them but haven't got to the point how. Trying to figure out does she have the surgery before the story begins and just keep it secret (remember, I'm talking through First-Person perspective through her eyes) or does she have surgery during some point in the book?

There will be a nude scene with her in it. That's the scene she discusses the scars/tattoos on her body because she usually covers her body from head to toe. She doesn't like showing off much skin. Of course, I'll be very respectful and be careful what I say when I get to that scene.

Single, childfree women aren't portrayed very often in books/film these days. I know my character for who she is and what she wants in her life. With her story, it would be very supportive of single, childfree women. They deserve better representation in books. Most of my closest friends are single/childfree women and they are honestly the most kind, loving, ambitious, strong, brave, and badass people I have ever known.

Yeah, I can’t help it. It’s a total turn-off for me. There’s no dynamics. There’s nothing for her to learn. It also sounds completely impossible. I like to see how people decide what they want. Like why would she go so far as to get surgery? How did she learn that was possible? Is it possible with her situation? Bu that’s all kind of hardly important... the core of it is what happened to her to make her push against all the expectations? I think the first thing I wrote to you I told you, in order to go against expectations you have to be willing to deal with huge negative consequences.

The women who you know have completely different circumstances than your heroine. Who knows if they would enjoy a book like yours? It is a fairytale. That’s okay. Jane Eyre is also a fairytale and it’s one of my favorites. I think you must see I'm talking truth here. There are actually lots of fairy tale type books out there, very loved. You have to kind of agree with the morals that the book is touting. In this case I wouldn’t be too interested in the morals you’re showing, but other people would. I do not mean to discourage you. Keep at it. Just do get a few female readers for sure.

Edit: I had to qualify something I said here about fairytales and add to it: It just doesn’t require real change from the character (it does often require change from the reader and the reader has to want to go along with it, be persuaded, root for the character... that's a textbook for another day).
 
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