Friday, October 14, 2011

From M&M: Writing Between the Sexes

One of the most helpful seminars for me was the last, a 3-hour presentation on Writing Between the Sexes, given by Leigh Michaels. In this seminar, the presenter talked about how to write convincing male and female characters. Best five hints (all of which are generalizations for the purposes of writing, because we all know there are exceptions):

Hint #1: If you're writing a guy who suddenly starts talking about his feelings without being forced to (at emotional or literal gunpoint, at that), you're not writing a convincing male.

Hint #2: If you're writing a woman who looks into the mirror, decides she likes what she sees and mentions the size of her breasts, you're not writing a convincing female.

Hint #3: Describing clothing, including brand name? You're probably looking through the eyes of a female. Describing activity without spending words on scenery and background? You're probably looking through the eyes of a male. Men and women notice different things. Females tend to be detail-oriented; males tend to be big-picture oriented.

Hint #4: Women talk in questions, qualifiers, and euphemisms. Men don't. Women explain their thoughts. Men don't.
Ex: "The clock as stopped; it needs a new battery. -> female
       "The clock needs a new battery." -> male
       "We're out of orange juice. Would you please pick some more up when you go to the store?" -> female
       "When you go to the store, pick up some more orange juice." -> male

Hint #5: Women talk for socializing and relaxation; men talk to prove and maintain their status. Therefore, home is where women feel safe to talk, but home is also where men feel safe to not talk.

Final thought for the road: the reasons that men and women talk are different. Sometimes, this creates conflicts, because men and women don't always understand where the other is coming from. Think about it.

Sharing time: Think of a conversation you've had with a member of the opposite gender. Which of these hints did you observe in action?