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Writing Men/Women Critique Thread:

Do you have a major POV character or even a protagonist that is the opposite gender of yourself?
  • It can get pretty difficult to write them convincingly
(I've even noticed this problem with myself)
  • Feel free to post a short passage from your work while others can help you with better phrasing and other nuances in addition to helping one avoid being sterotypical and unrealistic
  • RULES:
    • Please only post a shortish passage (around a chapter or something, just nothing too ridiculous)
(Or just enough that it will make sense out of context with some explantion*
  • Ensure that the last post has been critiqued before posting another one
  • Please specify the character's gender
  • CONSTUCTIVE Criticism. Emphasis on 'constuctive, ' no needless snarking please
I hope that this will be helpful and that other tropers will be able to get something out of it :)

edited 3rd Apr '13 3:49:35 AM by TheMuse

Feel free to begin posting. I am able to provide a female prespective.

 3 De Marquis, Tue, 2nd Apr '13 7:30:08 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
I am currently writing a spy story that features a pair of action girls partnered with a somewhat geeky technical expert who is male (as am I). The problem is your length requirement. I'm really challenged to find a couple of paragraphs that would make sense to someone without a lot of backstory.

edited 2nd Apr '13 7:30:26 AM by DeMarquis

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
If that's the case, yeah it's fine if you post a longer passage. I don't mind.

I barely ever write a male main character, I don't know why. By the way, I'm male.

 6 Oh So Into Cats, Tue, 2nd Apr '13 4:32:23 PM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
As with user icons, people will often write what they are attracted to rather than what they are.
"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
Exactly. And I've seen some REALLY badly written men, especially in fanfiction, my God.

 8 Oh So Into Cats, Tue, 2nd Apr '13 4:40:25 PM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
I don't know if my male characters sound "feminine" or if it's just that they're nervous wrecks.
"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
 9 Night, Tue, 2nd Apr '13 4:47:13 PM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
Could ask us.
"Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."
 10 Oh So Into Cats, Tue, 2nd Apr '13 4:49:10 PM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
I don't know. The excerpts would have to be very long, and I think I have a male reader who has not said anything. Is JHM a guy?
"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words

edited 2nd Apr '13 4:59:21 PM by TheMuse

 12 nrjxll, Tue, 2nd Apr '13 11:06:46 PM Relationship Status: Not war
I'm not entirely sure I approve of the mentality behind this thread.

 13 Oh So Into Cats, Tue, 2nd Apr '13 11:10:16 PM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
What do you mean, Nrj?

The idea that one has somebody from a certain demographic proofread when you are writing an "other" is very common and often a good idea. However I disagree that one can judge from a few paragraphs. I think characters have to be taken as a whole.
"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
 14 nrjxll, Tue, 2nd Apr '13 11:22:12 PM Relationship Status: Not war
You can't point to an individual character and say "that's not how (wo)men are". Like I've said before, whatever actual inherent differences between the sexes there may be can't really be pinned down to an individual level.

edited 2nd Apr '13 11:23:16 PM by nrjxll

 15 Oh So Into Cats, Tue, 2nd Apr '13 11:28:22 PM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Of course not. Which is why we need context. Which is why a few paragraphs is not enough.
"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
I'll edit the 'rules' to extend the allowed amount.

And also, I'm sorry for any Unfortunate Implications that may have been created by this. I'm just trying to say, men and women are raised in different social contexts, and as a result (are usually) mentally different to some degree. Obviously there will be some guys who cry at the drop of a hat or women who are extremely agressive, and ad nauseum. (personally, I think gender roles are complete bullshit)
  • But there are very few situations where you can take dialogue and switch it to the opposite gender without any changes and have it 'work.'
  • The changes wouldn't be anything like 'make sire she mentions babies and wallpaper samples or make sure he mentions punching things and eating raw meat, " but more like subtle vocabulary differents and sentence stucture and such.

 18 De Marquis, Wed, 3rd Apr '13 6:15:48 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
I think it's more about helping each other avoid common and obvious errors (and maybe more subtle ones as well) rather than producing "acceptible" characters which do or dont conform to some arbitrary standard of gender "realism".
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 19 De Marquis, Wed, 3rd Apr '13 9:40:45 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
OK, here goes. This is from very early in the story I am writing. A young man has been kidnapped, is being transported in a van, and is being rescued by one of my two female protagonists...

The sudden noise was loud and overwhelming, the high pitched screech of metal on metal, and Jeffrey could see something was cutting through the roof, and the men inside with him were screaming at each other, pulling out guns, while a section of the roof fell on the men in front, and an object of some kind fell in with it. What happened next wasn’t entirely clear, the sequence of events becoming confused, but Jeffrey was aware of something burning his eyes, something tugging at his straps, and a woman’s voice in English saying “There you are” and he was being lifted, manhandled in some way, as the van beneath him swayed suddenly and violently, and there was wind in his face, and the voice next to him screaming “Here we go!” and he tried to say “What?” and he was being strongly gripped all around, wrapped up as it were, in a confusing mix of woman and neoprene, and then the world went really crazy. Flying, turning, bouncing, rolling, and it was incomprehensible and really, really painful. Unable to see, barely able to breath, he could hear grunts of pain, not all of them his. Then he was released, and he found himself sliding to a stop on gravel, and being vaguely aware of another figure lying next to him, and again the female voice was shouting.

“Oh, hell yeah!” and in a more normal voice “I wasn’t sure that was going to work.” There was a squeal of tires somewhere nearby. “Uh oh, ” she said, and her face was suddenly above him. He had time to see pale blue eyes, short red hair, young features set in a tense expression. “How are you, ” she asked “Are your legs ok?”

He wiggled his toes. “They’re fine, I think.” She grabbed him by his shirt, pulled him up.

“Time to haul ass, buddy.”

Spitting dirt, and rubbing his eyes, he followed her down the road, aware that the van had turned around, was close by and heading their way. She led him to where a yellow ribbon was tied to a tree, and she turned in. There was a kind of tropical woods here, all ferns and palms and lush vegetation, and a path that led away from the road. A few feet in, she stopped and turned, and fired a large pistol back the way they had come. Glancing back, through tearing vision, he saw his captors, guns in hand, standing next to their van, bullet holes appearing suddenly in the side of it, and the men scattering in various directions.

She was peeling off pieces of her Michelin Man suit. “You didn’t hit them.” He told her. She gave him a sour look, “I wasn’t trying to hit anyone, I just wanted to slow them down.” Shorn of her padding, she was revealed as a petite, busty, wide hipped young woman, very sexy actually, in a black jumpsuit, and still breathing heavily, he noticed-

She squirted water into his eyes, from a small container in her hand. “You can sightsee later, pal. Let’s go.” Then they were running down the path, ferns slapping him in his face, wiping at the water, struggling to keep up with her, her form visible just beyond the intrusive ferns, running ahead of him.

“Who are you?” he finally shouted, after he felt he had figured out who she was.

“I was hired by your parents to get you back. Trust me!” she shouted back. For some reason, that struck him as really funny.

edited 3rd Apr '13 9:42:18 AM by DeMarquis

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
I don't see any noticable problems.
  • You forgot a question mark in paragraph 2 for "How are you?" (sorry, I'm a Grammar Nazi)
  • I noticed that one of your female characters definitely has some masculine attrbutes from dialogue alone. This isn't a problem if she's characterized a real hard-ass or such
  • But I've heard this as a rule of thumb: if you swap the character's gender and they are extremely stereotypical, there could be a problem there.
But what I've seen so far is quite promising.

  • And on another, slightly unrelated note. It's mentioned that a female character is a "petite, busty, wide hipped young woman..."
    • That is kind of contradictory to some degree. If she's naturally petite, it's very unlikely for her to have a large chest (unless she has breast implants)or Hartman Hips. And considering that both of them appear to be Action Girls, that level of of body strength probably wouldn't allow her to be super stacked. (Breasts are composed of fat after all)
Just keep that in mind and good luck with your writing :)

edited 3rd Apr '13 5:50:32 PM by TheMuse

 21 Oh So Into Cats, Wed, 3rd Apr '13 5:57:29 PM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
It depends on what you mean by "petite". A lot of men use "petite" to mean short/slim/not busty but if you're going by clothing sizes, "petite" just means (very) short, which does not preclude large hips or breasts. So it's not really contradictory.

edited 3rd Apr '13 5:58:08 PM by ohsointocats

"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
 22 De Marquis, Wed, 3rd Apr '13 9:51:26 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Yeah, that one phrase is really awkwardly written. The point is to create a physcial contrast between her and the other female protagonist, who is tall and slim. At the same time, I want to describe her using terms that Jeffrey would actually use. I feel like I'm trying to do too much here. Jeffrey thinks she's hot, I just want to communicate that.

She is a super-hard ass, to the point of just skating the thin edge of becoming offensive. I can see how she might come across as somewhat "masculine", but bear in mind that she's under a lot of pressure here, and doesnt have the time for any niceties.

I think the rule of thumb you heard was invented by Dave Sim and went something like "If you can swap the gender of your character, and it doesnt make any difference to how the story feels, you're writing your character wrong (by which he meant superficially).

But even that passage is really too short to give a complete picture of Kay. The real problem is that it's an action scene with very limited dialogue.

edited 3rd Apr '13 9:57:59 PM by DeMarquis

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 23 Oh So Into Cats, Thu, 4th Apr '13 2:45:11 AM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
If you're using a male perspective to describe her, I would probably pick another word than "petite". IME men often use "petite" to mean short, skinny, small bust, etc., while women are more likely to use it as just a euphemism for short (though they might use it the other way as well).
"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
Hey, would it be alright to post a link to the site where my story for critique instead of posting a snippet? I have concerns that my male lead may be feminized to the point where his believability is threatened but I can't pin down a part that particularly exemplifies this. He's not intended to be a macho man by any stretch of the imagination, but I would appreciate a male opinion, as I feel much of my own mindset has bled into him subconsciously.

edited 4th Apr '13 3:03:48 AM by Lockedbox

 25 Oh So Into Cats, Thu, 4th Apr '13 3:19:31 AM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
I don't know. I tend to write male and female characters exactly the same way. So that's probably not good.

[up] You can post the link, but I'm not sure if anyone will read the whole thing.

edited 4th Apr '13 3:20:01 AM by ohsointocats

"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
Total posts: 54
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