Monday, March 28, 2011

A Man and A Woman

This post is inspired by a short story written by one of my critique partners. You know who you are :)

From time to time I've read articles about making men sound like men and women sound like women. Below are some generalizations to get you started if your alpha hero is sounding like Great Aunt Myrtle or if your sexy heroine reminds you of Joe Jock.

Men use a lot of articles to describe items. He picked up the ax to inspect it before chopping the wood. Women tend to personalize items. She tossed her hair dryer into his suitcase.

Men and women notice different things. In a waiting room, a man is more apt to notice the doors and windows, the seating arrangements - the architectural elements. Women will notice wall color, upholstery, accessories, scents. Women are more likely to notice other people in the room.

In conversation, the goal of men is to impart and/or gather information. A woman's goal is to build a bridge to the other person to build a relationship.

Men want the bottom line. And I mean that in the nicest way - LOL. Like Sgt. Joe Friday on Dragnet, for most men it's "just the facts." Women want to tell you the story. Women use more words than men to say the same basic thing.

Men love gadgets. Women love shoes.

Men think about sex much more than women do.

Again, these observations are not set in stone and none of them may apply to the people in your real life. Or even to any of your characters. But you can use them to nudge those stubborn characters in the right direction for your story if they're getting out of line.

33 comments:

Ann Best said...

Exactly! And I speak from experience: a long life and two husbands!! Men and women are "different."

Joanne said...

It's an interesting way to look at our characters sometimes, on this really basic level - men vs women. Yet the differences are so defining, that they're definitely effective in our writing.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks for pointing out the small details that differentiate men and women. I just read a short story where the protagonist was not identified immediately and I was several pages into the story before I realize it was a man. The way it was written I was sensing it was a woman. Some of these telling details would have helped.

Manzanita said...

You are a true observing student of life between the gender species. Good points to think about.
Love and peace.

Carol Kilgore said...

Ann - Yes we are!

Joanne - I think so, too.

Maryann - Often it's the little things.

Manzanita - Love and peace back.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Excellent reminders, Carol! We are different. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes not, but it can be great for comedy.

Angela said...

I don`t think I could write from a man`s point of view. It would make me start giggling, to pretend I am the Great Man of few Words, entering the room, not noticing other people were in there,too, haha! But good point, you`d have to work out that difference.

Lydia K said...

Great point, and I think, very true. I didn't realize about the "the" vs "my" in writing!

Carol Kilgore said...

Elspeth - Comedy or tension.

Angela - I love writing from a man's viewpoint. It's much easier for me. Don't know why.

Lydia - Now you know :)

Talli Roland said...

I had a man's POV in my last MS and I had to work really hard to make him manly. Still not sure I've managed to do it...

LR said...

You're right about male/female characters noticing different things. A male character will, for example, rarely notice or care what people are wearing. It's the woman who'll notice the palazzo pants and the mint-green tank top. :)

Although of course a man might well notice if something is low-cut...

lbdiamond said...

Well, this is an excellent point. It will help define a character's perspective, for sure! Nice post!

Clarissa Draper said...

This is a really good post. I'm tweeting it!

The Golden Eagle said...

Interesting post! I never really thought about some of those details--and since I write through both male and female perspectives, I'll have to remember them.

Thanks!

Carol Kilgore said...

Talli - I'm sure you did great :)

LR - Of course!

lbdiamond - Yes, it will.

Clarissa - Thanks for the tweet!

Rula Sinara said...

Love this post. It's such an interesting topic. I didn't know the one about using articles vs personalizing items.

Talei said...

That's a very good and valid point, men and women do look at things different, we should consider this when writing their POVs. I'm writing my MC (female POV) but I'd love to do both POVs in my next story. Definitely would enjoy it, methinks.

Happy writing! ;-)

Michelle Teacress said...

The more I learn about things like this, the more I notice it (done well or not) in the books I read. It's fun. Thanks for this reminder. :)

Holly Ruggiero said...

These are great observations and great things to keep in mind while writing.

irishoma said...

Fascinating observations. Enjoyed the post.
donna

Carol Kilgore said...

Golden Eagle - I write both, too.

Rula - I love the differences!

Talei - Great new photo! I love writing the males.

Michelle - Same here. And you're welcome.

Holly - Another item on the checklist.

Donna - Thanks.

Joanna St. James said...

i do write a better male pov than female. it must have 2 do with growing up around a bazillion boys.

Carol Kilgore said...

Joanna - I hear you!

Medeia Sharif said...

Very interesting! I've noticed these differences myself. But personalities vary. I've known some men who go into more detail than me and engage in long-winded, relationship-building conversation. Also, I prefer gadgets over shoes.

kimberlyloomis said...

"...if your alpha hero is starting to sound like Great Aunt Myrtle" - Lol! Love this post, Carol. Very good and valid points about the genders. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Medeia - Exactly. These are generalizations only. Each of us is unique, and so is each character. Or they should be. I'm a 200% shoe woman!

Kimberly - Thanks, Kimberly.

Shirley said...

Interesting post. And probably most of it true. However, my husband takes FOREVER to get to the point. I want to rip the words right out of his mouth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, this was great! Much more concrete than I usually see it. I actually saved the link to my permanent file--things to reference when I am trying to do this or that...

Carol Kilgore said...

Shirley - I know some men like that, too. These are generalizations only.

Hart - Cool :)

Linda Kage said...

Okay, I totally love this post, I might have to ask you to guest post it somewhere for me sometime because it really is helpful for a romance writer like me.

Thanks!

Janet, said...

Great points you brought up. Men and women do see things differently.

Arlee Bird said...

Great observations and very true. I know sometimes I want to just tell a woman, "Enough with the story, just tell me what I need to know now!"

And that sex thing can be so annoying and inconvenient.

Lee
Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Carol Kilgore said...

Linda - Very cool :) Ask anytime.

Janet - We certainly do.

Arlee - That's because that sex thing gets in the way - LOL.