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Suggestions For Writing In the Perspective of a Woman (1 Viewer)

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Dluuni

WF Veterans
If you need to convince someone a character is a woman (I so hate "female") then have them interact with things that are stereotypically feminine, even if the interaction is to show they dislike the thing. Likewise, don't have them interact with masculine stereotypes.
I don't know why that works, but it helps a lot. I had to do it a lot when I was younger; protesting feminine things makes people associate you with femininity, protesting masculine things associates you with masculinity.
 

EmmaSohan

WF Veterans
In one of my books, someone gave my MC something to read, she went to read it, AND I SUDDENLY REMEMBERED THAT SHE COULDN'T READ. I was embarrassed to make that rookie mistake.

So, you can sit down and ask what it would be like if YOU couldn't read. You would be frustrated, right?

WRONG. The story wasn't about YOU, or me. It was a primitive fantasy world and none of the women went to school. Why would my MC be frustrated? What would it be like to be a woman and think it the proper order of things that she wan't taught to read? Why would I want to give her a 21st century attitude?

I mean, when you try to put yourself in your character's heels, it should be more than if you had her body -- what if you also had her knowledge, her abilities, her goals, her worries, lived in her culture?

Plus, probably relevant, I never told the reader she couldn't read. That was only implied by her actions. Really, the OP asked how to "show" femaleness.

Then just multiply the problems of portraying illiteracy by a thousand for writing about males and females. Laughing. Read part of my book, Love, and I'll tell you the easy trick. And, as a writer, you don't have to get everything right, no one does, people have already said that. You just have to do something well, but the more things that work, the better, of course. Thank you for caring and trying.

When I arrive home, I notice my father's books. He has four. That is not nearly as many as Teacher Wei, but he has more than most men. I feel their leather covers with my fingers and wonder what kind of knowledge would interest my father.
 
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Foxee

Patron
Patron
I've been sampling a lot of different authors (like sampling audiobooks and ebooks) and find a lot more misses than hits for what I find natural and that I like. One weird thing that I noticed is that female authors writing a female protagonist are not automatically appealing to me. I should start keeping track but I think I might nope out of books-written-by-women-about-women at a slightly higher rate than others?

Often I feel like I'm being sold on a female character who does it all...she's being a mom or she's pregnant and she's also a crack detective who pours everything into her work. To be clear, I'm sure some women can do this, the problem for me is that I know I'm not this amazing and I can't imagine being stellar at everything at once. Even if the character ISN'T stellar at everything and there isn't a Mary-Sue issue it feels kind of exhausting, like all the expectations that I "bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan" have come home to roost.

Of the authors I like who are men, they certainly do write from a feminine POV although circumspectly, I think, much like Non Serviam's advice here. They simply write an interesting character who is a woman. I enjoy Dean Koontz a lot for being adventurous with his POV's and writing men, women, girls, boys, supernatural beings, and even the POV of a dog (I really enjoyed that one).

Keep your eye on the objective: write something that is so engaging and engrossing that the reader forgets that they're reading a story. Aim for the suspension of disbelief. And if your beta readers say, "Hey, I really stumbled over that feminine POV" then listen to that. But don't avoid trying it.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
For what it's worth, I've encountered many female authors that are terrible at writing male characters. I think it can be a challenge for each sex, but it can be surmounted to a reasonable degree at least by paying attention to people we know in real life. Some succeed in writing the opposite sex successfully - my wife and daughters tells me that the male author of the book 'Diary of a Geisha' got it exactly right (although other women might disagree).
 

Dluuni

WF Veterans
The other thing that comes to mind this morning. The tip is to just write a person and then declare them a woman, sure, but the world is different when you are read as a woman than it is when you are read as a man. Men can walk at night safely. Women are treated as prey. Men are terrible! Nine of them will be kind and respectful, then the tenth, one of the friends of the first nine, will be horror movie frightening to you, and his friends will protect him and make excuses. That kind of thing changes how one interacts with the world, and drives most of the differences people see.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
"Men can be terrible," so can women. I really think that's an equal opportunity sort of thing. Different terribleness, maybe, but let's not get carried away.

"Women are treated as prey" Sure, sometimes, by some scumbags. It's a very good reason to understand situational awareness rather than staring at your phone when you're walking around in transitional spaces.

Evil resides in the human heart regardless of gender. I would hate to miss out on a female villain just because we don't understand this.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
"Men can be terrible," so can women. I really think that's an equal opportunity sort of thing. Different terribleness, maybe, but let's not get carried away.

"Women are treated as prey" Sure, sometimes, by some scumbags. It's a very good reason to understand situational awareness rather than staring at your phone when you're walking around in transitional spaces.

Evil resides in the human heart regardless of gender. I would hate to miss out on a female villain just because we don't understand this.
I often teach self defense classes, and among the first things discussed is situational awareness. Also where you go, when you go there, and who you go there with. ALSO, since we live in the internet age, meeting people on line via dating apps - there's a strict protocol you should follow to stay safe.

I've known men that met some nice gal that led him into a trap and he was assaulted by her scumbag boyfriend. There are also women that latch on to a guy as just a resource, and clean them out. There are a lot of nasty people out there, and are not limited by gender.
 

Digital Dive Labs

Senior Member
The best advice I could give is to not treat her differently than you would a man, and because everyone's already said that, the second best thing I have is that you should also be mindful of how you write the characters surrounding her. Do they treat her differently than they would a man?

From a literary perspective, that's okay - so long as you have a plan for why you're writing them like that. Conflict drives drama, and flawed characters are ripe for conflict. The people around her don't need to always agree with her or want the same things, but if she notices that they respond to her differently than they do to men, it warrants disappointment, confrontation, and (if they're an important part of her life) a reassessment of where they stand with her.

As an example, in a coming-of-age story the main character decides to save up money for a post-graduation road trip, but her dad has concerns ("Do you know how to change a tire?" "Yes, Dad" "Oil?" "Yes, Dad" "Will there be boys?"). This goes on for weeks, and all the while she can't help but notice that her dad has not once pestered her brother about his own plan to go to the beach ("Cool, Ralphington the Third, enjoy your youth!"). She grapples with whether her father sees her as capable, and in the climax she decides she'd rather spend the money on moving into her own place.

Simply by asking the question, you're ahead of probably 70% of authors out there, including quite a few famous authors I've read.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
The best advice I could give is to not treat her differently than you would a man, and because everyone's already said that, the second best thing I have is that you should also be mindful of how you write the characters surrounding her. Do they treat her differently than they would a man?

From a literary perspective, that's okay - so long as you have a plan for why you're writing them like that. Conflict drives drama, and flawed characters are ripe for conflict. The people around her don't need to always agree with her or want the same things, but if she notices that they respond to her differently than they do to men, it warrants disappointment, confrontation, and (if they're an important part of her life) a reassessment of where they stand with her.

As an example, in a coming-of-age story the main character decides to save up money for a post-graduation road trip, but her dad has concerns ("Do you know how to change a tire?" "Yes, Dad" "Oil?" "Yes, Dad" "Will there be boys?"). This goes on for weeks, and all the while she can't help but notice that her dad has not once pestered her brother about his own plan to go to the beach ("Cool, Ralphington the Third, enjoy your youth!"). She grapples with whether her father sees her as capable, and in the climax she decides she'd rather spend the money on moving into her own place.

Simply by asking the question, you're ahead of probably 70% of authors out there, including quite a few famous authors I've read.
I'll respectively disagree - somewhat. There are differences that need to be acknowledged, but these are broad stroke differences and individuals differ wildly. It's been my experience that male and female authors make similar mistakes when writing the opposite sex - they write caricatures rather than people.

In broad strokes, women tend to feel cold more than men do, they care more about clothes, fashion and their appearance in general, in speech they enunciate better than men do, they catch nuances of expression and mannerisms before men do. Some of this is via nurture and the rest via nature. Certainly, we're more alike than different, but capturing the subtitles in your writing will make a difference.
 

BornForBurning

Senior Member
You might ask why you find yourself being drawn towards writing a female protagonist. It's an aesthetic construction, after all. At least theoretically, there's an artistic reason your brain is drawn towards that idea, whatever form it is taking.
 

LoveofWriting

Senior Member
You might ask why you find yourself being drawn towards writing a female protagonist. It's an aesthetic construction, after all. At least theoretically, there's an artistic reason your brain is drawn towards that idea, whatever form it is taking.

That is true, but still I feel like writing in a woman perspective because mostly I want to be versatile when it comes to writing different genders.
 

JBF

Staff member
Global Moderator
At the risk of sounding flippant, stop worrying about the sex of your POV character. Don't dismiss it entirely (there are some key differences in how men and women operate, mentally and otherwise) but focusing too closely on one aspect of going outside your experience is a little like watching kids trying to learn cursive. Odds are they're going waaaaaay too slow trying to get the flow correct and bearing down hard enough to engrave the desk underneath. The result is legible, but it's neither smooth or natural and anybody with a little experience is going to see the hallmarks of a rank amateur. Same for wobbling all over the place trying to ride a bike at falling speed. Or slowing down a baseball pitch to the point of useless absurdity.

Competence at speed is often better, easier, and more enjoyable than glacial precision.

No Rosetta Stone exists for translating man-voice to woman-voice (or the other way around). Not here, not on Quora...damn sure not on Reddit. A dozen women will give you a dozen different suggestions. Unless you can understand where their logic is rooted, every one will be wrong for you.

The sex of a character is an accent, not a straightjacket. Be aware of it, heed it when necessary, but realize there are other details more deserving of your attention. Go where the narrative weight lies (hint: it's probably not down your character's pants). Don't ask what a woman would do. Ask what your specific character would do in light of her preferences, experiences, circumstances, wants, needs, past, or emotional state.

Don't try to write characters through a female filter.

Write your women through a character filter.
 
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cozwry

Senior Member
A woman will wash her hands, whilst a man would spit. A woman would comb her hair, whilst a man would have a beer. A woman would play tennis, whilst a man would be at the book store. A woman would cry, when a man would laugh. It’s not about love, it’s about babies.

Check out Fuel - Shimmer on YouTube, it’s got a video clip.
 
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VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
I've never in my life written to "convince someone a character is a woman".

First, readers aren't grading your characters. Unless a depiction is so ham-handed or insulting it forces the reader to conclude the author is an idiot, all the author has to do is identify who the character is, male or female, plus any number of other factors. No "sale" is involved, just don't screw up. I couldn't begin to describe how to "write a man" or how to "write a woman", because of the hundreds of each I've known personally in my life, they were all different.

Like JBF said, write the character. The character is in the story for a purpose, with a role to fill. The character should fill that role.

Even in some sort of a specific dramatic character study, you're still writing an individual person. If a writer thinks a drug addict or a formerly victimized person must meet a specific list of standards, they're not writing a character, they're writing a stereotype. The same goes for thinking there are set rules for a male or female character.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
This question arises here frequently and rightly so. We often hear the advice, "write what you know," but how can we possibly know what it feels like to be another gender? However, we can't restrict our POV to only one gender. Well, I guess we can, but something doesn't seem right about that. We should continue to unmask the mystery. What makes us buy into a female POV vs a male POV?

I agree there is a difference, and it may not be as obvious as to how they dress, speak or interact with others. As a reader, I don't notice when it is done right, but often notice it is not done well. I finally finished reading The Queens Gambit. I had started it some time ago. Part of the reason I put it down midway was that I watched the Netflix series. That was amazing! Typically, I enjoy a book more than the movie, but not in this case. I won't give a spoiler but some sexual scenes were omitted and some maternal emotions were augmented. It made a big difference for my enjoyment and ability to relate to the protagonist. Hard to explain why, but in short, for me, the series captured a female POV better than the book. I wish I could theorize this in a set of rules, but as many have already mentioned, set standards don't work in writing anything. You could read the book and watch the series to see if you notice the difference.

Not sure if this sheds any light, but I commend you as a writer for wanting to do it right.
 
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indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
This question arises here frequently and rightly so. We often hear the advice, "write what you know," but how can we possibly know what it feels like to be another gender? However, we can't restrict our POV to only one gender. Well, I guess we can, but something doesn't seem right about that. We should continue to unmask the mystery. What makes us buy into a female POV vs a male POV?

I agree there is a difference, and it may not be as obvious as to how they dress, speak or interact with others. As a reader, I don't notice when it is done right, but often notice it is not done well. I finally finished reading The Queens Gambit. I had started it some time ago. Part of the reason I put it down midway was that I watched the Netflix series. That was amazing! Typically, I enjoy a book more than the movie, but not in this case. I won't give a spoiler but some sexual scenes were omitted and some maternal emotions were augmented. It made a big difference for my enjoyment and ability to relate to the protagonist. Hard to explain why, but in short, for me, the series captured a female POV better than the book. I wish I could theorize this in a set of rules, but as many have already mentioned, set standards don't work in writing anything. You could read the book and watch the series to see if you notice the difference.

Not sure if this sheds any light, but I commend you as a writer for wanting to do it right.
Have you read 'Diary of a Geisha' by Rob Marshall? My wife and both daughters swear the author captured the female POV perfectly - they were all astounded that a man could write such a thing (seems sexist to me, but never mind).
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Have you read 'Diary of a Geisha' by Rob Marshall? My wife and both daughters swear the author captured the female POV perfectly - they were all astounded that a man could write such a thing (seems sexist to me, but never mind).
I think you mean Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I had to google it to remember it. :) There was also a fantastic movie directed by Rob Marshall. And yes I did. But I don't remember specifically marveling that a male wrote it. But that's what I mean by when it's done right, I don't even think about it.
 
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indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I think you mean Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I had to google it to remember it. :) There was also a fantastic movie directed by Rob Marshall. And yes I did. But I don't remember specifically marveling that a male wrote it. But that's what I mean by when it's done right, I don't even think about it.
Ah you’re right. I didn’t read it, but my wife and daughters loved it.
 
And... err, how to phrase this. There's a scene that some writers produce, when they're writing about someone of the opposite gender. I call it the Mirror Scene, although it can also be a pool of water or seeing themselves through a camera or something. Anyway, it's the scene where the protagonist looks in a mirror and notices her voluptuous curves and amazing cheekbones (or when women writers write about men, his slim hips, manly chest and cruel but sensual mouth). Please don't do that scene in any form!

These sort of scenes sound awful. Thankfully, I haven't read a lot of work that include "mirror scenes." I think OP just wants a little guidance on how a woman tends to act differently than your typical male character. I used to get hung up on the female voice and how I couldn't possibly ever be able to tap into the mind of a female because I am a male. Now, I just know there isn't a cookie cutter variety of female who only females can write effectively. People are all different.

Run wild with character development. Have fun. And keep writing.
 
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