How to Write like a Girl

This is post is a general outline for how to TEACH YOURSELF how to write like the opposite gender.

As a writer, it is your job to figure out what other people are thinking. Even the opposite gender. Where does she spend her time? Why is he looking at me like that? What kind of person would do that? For some, the mind of the opposite sex is a mystery.

For some writers, this poses a difficult problem, often resulting in poorly written stereotypes. So, I want to share a few tips with you on how you can write as either sex (and anything in between).

People First

If you’ve gotten this far, I’m going to assume you are aware of the anatomical differences between women and men. And yes, you should probably work those into your character.

As a writer, you need to focus on more than the surface. You need to think about what makes your character tick.

  • What do they think about being a man/woman/other?
  • How do they present themselves (clothes, posture, etc.)?
  • How do they react towards others of their own gender?
  • How do they react to other genders?
  • How does the world they live in react to their gender?

If you’re having  trouble  with any of these things, go talk to your friends, your siblings, someone you can read pretty well, and watch how they interact with their world. Try not to freak them out though (this is an important skill to learn)! Listen to the way they talk, the things they left unsaid, the way they position themselves, or check themselves out in the mirror. Watch how they interact with the world around them.

There. That’s it. You are now officially certified to write someone of the opposite gender. The first and only lesson to writing someone of the opposite gender is that first, you must write a human being.

Know Your Audience

More women read romance novels than men. More men read military science fiction than women. Does this matter? You bet your sweet androgynous ass it does.

If you’re going to get the attention of these people, you need to write what they want to read. It’s probably fine to skimp on the depth of that hunky piece of man-meat in your romance novel, but you have to nail the voice of the female protagonist.

It is ridiculous to say that one gender thinks more about relationships, or sex, or emotions than the other. But don’t let that stop you from creating horribly offensive stereotypes. Just look at this story written in tandem by a female and male student.

Seriously, though. If you need a stereotypical manly-man, or an obvious, curvaceous seductress your imagination can conjure, feel free. There are no rules in writing, only strongly worded suggestions.

But take a look at the fantasy series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ (written by the deceptively cherubic George R. R. Martin). In his books, he writes stereotypical characters with a purpose: to turn them into deep, complex, unexpected champions. For example, one character, Sansa, is the perfect princess in the beginning of the series, but as Martin explores her character, she evolves into a devious, self-saving, woman of inner strength.

george-rr-martin-credit-karolina-webb_custom-f55e7468bf1390094e2995cc4f26d8e6a8f7ab47-s6-c30
Beloved Author, and (Fictional) Mass Murderer George R. R. Martin

After everything, that really is the key to writing the opposite sex: Everyone is complex, everyone is a mystery (even to themselves, at times), and the first thing you should worry about is writing human beings. All people have this tendency to grow, and so should your characters.

Writing Challenge: From the Perspective of the Opposite Gender

You’ve got an interview with a small company, and you’re about to meet your new boss. You’re called into the boss’s office, and they appear too interested in you. You realize that your soon-to-be boss is hitting on you, hard. How do you react?

Pay special attention to how your character talks, how they move, and especially how they feel about these overt advances. Tell me how it goes!

17 thoughts on “How to Write like a Girl

  1. Great article, P.S. I find it also helps to read books where the main character belongs to the opposite sex (especially if they are narrated in the first person by the main character).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Spot on. You only get better by using general observation as your research. My husband and I wrote about the challenges of writing the opposite gender—just because you want them to sound like people, not stereotypes. Just as a general rule of thumb, if your female characters sound too much like Bella from Twilight, you’ve gone too far. Turn around when possible. http://witandtravesty.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/writing-the-other-gender-both-perspectives/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the post! As someone who has role played both genders, I keep thinking it gets easier with time. Then, I get to the dialogue scenes, and realize it hasn’t gotten any easier at all! One book down, 4 more in the works for this series, and the next series shaping up behind this, and I keep stalling having to go back and tweak the main character (male) when he talks.

    Thankfully, he’s got the kind of past that he is likely to do anything, which makes writing him fun!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The entire series is planned, I’m just having to be careful to not put too much in any single book so things flow smoothly and logically.

        As for writing the main character – he’s easy. It’s the supporting cast that’s hard. The main character is still fairly simple and straight forward – see movement: kill! He’s great to work with because I can shamelessly torture him. Not so sure how it will be once he starts developing more, and civilizing a little bit.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice article. The novel I’m writing has a female protagonist & a mostly female support cast (with a male villain and male romantic interest). At the moment, I’m ‘just writing it’, knowing that I’ll need to go over large chunks to get the character ‘correct’.

    We’ll see how that goes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Still early days so no problems as such more an anticipation of issues to come 🙂

        Its science fiction. She’s supposed to be confident, leader of a squadron, military woman. Her challenges will involve both physical threats and more emotional/cerebral problems.

        Im 2-3000 words in (done loads of planning though), so not much character to review yet!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well now I’m curious! What is it going to be about? What kind of cerebral problems?

        I’m in the same boat, as far as planning goes. I’ve spent so much time planning, sometimes I forget I really need to just write.

        Like

      3. Ah, I’ll keep the specifics under wraps for now (plus this early on they are subject to change) – but it involves the interaction between a military upgrade to make her a better pilot, and a traumatic teleportation event. Also, aliens!

        Also, I might do a post on how I’m approaching the writing and the method I’ve used in planning 🙂

        Cheers
        KT

        Like

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