Note for Women Writers Creating Male Characters

Early in 2011, while in my old truck and heading home from work, I was listening to David Jeremiah on the radio. He was conducting a study series on the Song of Solomon, and listed four things husbands need from wives:

1) cheerleading

2) companionship

3) comfort

4) a confidante

c. Keanan Brand

I’m not married now, nor have I ever been, but knowing what I do of men (my dad, brother, colleagues, friends), that struck me as a logical list, not just for understanding relationships but also for writing believable characters.

Can’t tell you how many times I’ve read “male” characters who behaved and spoke almost identically as their female counterparts. Almost all those men were written by women.

Note to my gender mates who also happen to write fiction: Men ain’t the same as women.

Pretty basic.

They don’t think the same, emote the same, behave the same, communicate the same. They may have the same

c. Keanan Brand

emotions, desires, and ideas, but may express them differently, or may take different paths to arrive at similar conclusions.

When in doubt, ask male friends or family members to read your work and allow them to give honest feedback. (My brother is one of my beta readers, and he tells the unvarnished truth.)

By considering your characters’ differences, you’ll make them more believable. You’ll know their goals or their logic, which will in turn lead to interesting tension, conflict, unexpected story events. Characters will start surprising you. As a result, your writing will improve, and your readers will thank you.

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2 thoughts on “Note for Women Writers Creating Male Characters”

  1. Very true! Another related thing to keep in mind is how different boys and men are when girls are not around. As a mom of four boys I can be almost invisible to them and thus have a little window into that world. Things I hear from teachers at our al lboys school support this difference.

    1. “Another related thing to keep in mind is how different boys and men are when girls are not around.” — Absolutely!

      I remember something from The Lord of the the Rings movies, when one of the actors said that the set was rougher in speech and behavior until one of the actresses arrived, and then the guys suddenly remembered their manners.

      I’ve been thinking of expanding this post, and giving specific how-to instructions for women writing male characters.

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