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Total posts: [139]
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Do male and female authors write differently?:

This tiny forest is where all the action is!
I read some time back that someone created a computer program that can analyze a piece of writing and guess with some high degree of certainty (70 or 80%), the gender of the author. The article went on to say that males tended to write in third-person and describe things more technically, and females tended to write in first-person and be more "interactive" with the reader. I guess by "interactive", which the article didn't define, they meant that the author tries to get you to feel the main character's emotions and empathize with their life situation?

Anyway, has anyone found this to be true? Have you specifically noticed a difference in how each gender writes, or tends to write?
 2 Mr AHR, Tue, 18th Jan '11 8:36:32 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
My guess? More females write self insert romance novels.
Her with the hat
[up]And more males write mindless action novels about Gary Stu badasses.

At least, that's the impression I get from fanfic.

Good writing from either gender, however, is less likely to come from the Id, and thus more difficult to stereotype.
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This tiny forest is where all the action is!
I'm talking about writing styles within the work itself, not preferred genres. Have you noticed differences in their style of writing, of trying to engage or interest the reader?
 5 aishkiz, Tue, 18th Jan '11 9:21:45 AM from under the stairs
Slayer of Threads
I haven't.

I'm slightly curious to see what these theorists say about literature by agender people though.

edited 18th Jan '11 9:22:01 AM by aishkiz

I have devised a most marvelous signature, which this signature line is too narrow to contain.
 6 Mr AHR, Tue, 18th Jan '11 9:39:34 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
@Bonsai: But genres have different styles of writing that are common and trendy within each other.
This tiny forest is where all the action is!
[up]That's very true, and you're right. On the other hand, let's say multiple authors of both genders wrote in the same genre. Is there a difference then?
 8 Mr AHR, Tue, 18th Jan '11 9:52:29 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
—shrugs— We don't know, we don't have the specific stats. I mean, Harry Potter is written in the third person, Twilight is written in the first, as well as Animorphs and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Lord of the Rings, Isaac Asimov books, Artemis Fowl, all third person.
Also known as Katz
Publishers should also be taken into account: There's still a lot of stereotyping of female authors, and they may only accept a woman's manuscript if it meets their standards for things that can be marketed to women.

I'd say there are some styles that are more common with men and some more common with women; it's not absolute. For example, in science fiction male authors seem to tend more towards 'hard' sci-fi with a lot of focus on the setting and plot, and not put a lot of effort into writing characters with depth and emotional interest (Asimov, for example), while female sci-fi authors generally have better-written characters with less focus on explaining the technical aspects. And the number of male science fiction authors who can write good female characters is, in my experience, very small.

To some extent the male-female division between plot-focus and character-focus seems to carry over into other genres as well.

One of the other divisions is that in on the whole female authors tend to be better at writing male characters than male authors are at writing female characters; I suppose because the majority of media is produced by men so women have a better sense of how men think than vice versa.

 11 JHM, Wed, 19th Jan '11 3:10:56 AM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
Considering the differences in childhood brain growth and learning patterns in girls and boys, especially in relation to language... Yes, there's probably a qualitative difference. I'd guess that, on average, men have a greater tendency towards description while women have more of a lean towards characterisation. This is just a big, general thing, though.
 12 Lizard Bite, Wed, 19th Jan '11 6:42:42 AM from Two Galaxies Over
The article went on to say that males tended to write in third-person and describe things more technically, and females tended to write in first-person and be more "interactive" with the reader

let's say multiple authors of both genders wrote in the same genre. Is there a difference then?

I find it amusing that Mercedes Lackey and Jim Butcher apparently write opposite of how their gender is supposed to.

 13 Imipolex G, Wed, 19th Jan '11 9:36:03 AM from all our yesterdays
frozen in time
This short article is specifically about Thomas Pynchon, but discusses the idea that men and women are apt to look for different things in literature. Specifically, that women are more likely to go for "deep" characters with feelings and relationships, etc., while men are more attracted by abstract concepts. I thought it was interesting.
no one will notice that I changed this
 14 merton, Wed, 19th Jan '11 10:13:51 AM from my heart to yours.
defiance
In my experience talking to male and female writers about how they write, female writers tend to think of a character, put said character in a situation, and then think of how this character would react to said situation. Male writers (myself included), on the other hand, tend to think of a situation and what should happen in said situation, then write characters so that those events happen.
This tiny forest is where all the action is!
That's a very interesting and quite significant difference.

A thing about writing, though, is that after you've come up with a situation and then made the characters to have it happen, the characters can wind up out of your control and can end up driving the story themselves.

That is, you conceive the situation you want. Then you conceive the characters who will be in it and give them basic "starting" personalities. But after a while, as you picture how the characters would act, and they become more "human" to you as their personalities assert themselves, the rest of the story would then be shaped by the character actions.

So I think that type of interplay can come about during story writing, even after one has used either the plot idea or the characters as the initial springboard to start the story.

edited 19th Jan '11 10:48:21 AM by BonsaiForest

Her with the hat
Specifically, that women are more likely to go for "deep" characters with feelings and relationships, etc., while men are more attracted by abstract concepts.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine on this topic once - more about fanfic and which characters appeal to people than original fiction - but this was pretty much the conclusion we came too.

Women are more likely go for the angsty, tragic types with dark pasts, while men dismiss those characters as wangsty and go for the characters who do really cool stuff/are in really interesting situations.

Which is where the badfic stereotypes come from: Female badfic is known for endless wangsty emo and endless horrible things happening to the main character to cause more angst; Male badfic gives us COOL BADASS PEOPLE DOING COOL BADASS THINGS and all the depth of a puddle.
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^ Like Thirty H's? [lol]

The Things They Carried was written by a man, and it was character-driven to the point of being almost plotless and all introspective. At least that's how I remember it...

What about Charles Dickens? He's very descriptive and puts emphasis on settings, but I think he's also got that angsty, tragic past thing going on as well.

Her with the hat
Hey, I loved The Things They Carried. Though I'm female...

Dickens was writing in a different era, though. Social expectations and writing styles were very different then.
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I liked it too xD

Interesting point about Dickens. I haven't read much more from that era though... anybody want to give input on the Brontes?

edited 19th Jan '11 11:03:42 PM by melloncollie

 20 Invisiblechan, Wed, 19th Jan '11 11:09:39 PM from in a small black hole
"Shy, not antisocial"
As a literature thing and not a fanfic thing, I would have to say no. To Kill a Mockingbird could have been written by a guy, had most people not been informed otherwise. I mean, think of all the female writers who took masculine pen names so that their books would be published (e.g. Harper Lee). When it's well written enough, I don't think that people notice or care.

Raven Wilder
Actually, I've heard a theory that To Kill a Mockingbird was really written by Truman Capote and he just let Harper Lee take credit for it.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 22 JHM, Fri, 21st Jan '11 11:36:45 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
[up] The character of the cousin was actually based on Truman Capote, from what I can recall...

The Things They Carried is a beautiful piece of literature, although one might note that it is closer in spirit to poetry - and, for obvious reasons, memoir - than most novels. Same applies to a lot of character-focused male works, if you think about it.

On the other hand, I'm male, and when I write something I tend to get far more involved with the details of character than I do plot... But then again, I exhibit plenty of stereotypically female thought processes that most guys I know do not. I've also immersed myself much more in short stories and poetry (again!) than actual novels, so I'm inclined to write more from a descriptive angle than a narrative one.
 23 Mr AHR, Sat, 22nd Jan '11 6:55:45 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Dill.
femaledavinci
I have read some authors who are male who write about a female protagonist(Jasper Fforde I'm looking at you) and I don't think for a second wait this female is really being written by a male. It never crosses my mind until I look at the front cover. The article about Thomas Pynchon I can't understand why women would want more characterization if the plot is interesting enough like Pynchon's plots. I, like the author of the article, am female and a fellow Pynchonite and also its hard to give characterization to 400 characters I have to say. I feel that its not a gender thing but a personal thing. Any author whether they be male or female can be more comfortable writing more about characterization or more about plot.
I like Shorts. Their comfortable and easy to wear.
 25 OOZE, Sat, 22nd Jan '11 1:44:21 PM from Transsexual,Transylvania
Don't feed the plants!
Only when they write badly, and then the difference is superficial. (See My Immortal and Thirty H's)
I'm feeling strangely happy now, contented and serene. Oh don't you see, finally I'll be, somewhere that's green...
Total posts: 139
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