Writing Male and Female voices

I started reading a new book by M. C. Beaton entitled There Goes the Bride. It’s a romance mystery. I just starting but it seems different from romances I had read in that the perspective is strongly focused on the external world and doing: he did this, they did that. I am enjoying the book, interested to see where it goes. Then I noticed, in the first chapter at least, the main character could have been a man in my mind, from the style of thinking. 1347567726_4567_bride

Do men and women have different styles of thinking that comes across on the page? If you weren’t told the speaker was a woman, do you think you would know from the nature of what was being said?

If there are archetypal differences between the masculine and feminine frame of mind, I thought, it would be interesting to try to state what those differences would be. So here are my top three writing tips for writing a character that has a distinctly masculine or feminine p.o.v.

#1. The masculine is pushing back against what it doesn’t want to happen. The feminine voice is pulling in more of what it wants.

When your male lead talks about squeaky doors and fences that need fixing it sends a masculine tone because things falling apart from lack of maintenance is to be pushed back against. Interest in safety practices, risk assessment, justice, adherence to building standards all shouts the masculine. The masculine voice is driven to preserve and protect what already exists and push back the boundaries of mortality.

The feminine is pulling in more of what delights the senses. Food, gardening, nature, beautiful architecture and warm relationships all create a feminine atmosphere. Asstock-photo-33292540-sentimentality-mature-old-lady-smelling-yellow-flower does creativity come to think of it, and expressions of gratitude which is a connection to what brings passionate feelings. The feminine is about connection to what you love and taking it into your interior world and feeling the pleasure it brings.

 

#2. The masculine thinks in terms of either/or. The feminine thinks in terms of and/both.

If you want to sound like a guy assume there is a choice to be made: the choice between being a winner or a loser resulting in a competition; the choice between seeing someone as an alley or an enemy; deciding if something is on-track or off-track to maintain focus.

The feminine is like an improv genius responding to life with a “yes, and” attitude. Can my kid sister’s friend join us? Yes, and let’s turn this lunch into a picnic so the kids can go swimming. I wonder what would happen if we opened this door… Fred thinks it was a murder and John insists it could only be an accident and Amy feels it could have been both- a murder accident! The feminine defies logic but it takes you in the unexpected direction necessary to make new discoveries, or truly connect to people.

#3. The masculine voice is externally focused and logical. The feminine voice is internally focused and feelings centred.

The masculine voice has a heads up attitude assessing the external factors and planning the counter moves. It is a very objective frame of mind focused on making progress.

The feminine voice has turned the loci of attention inward and is willing to be guided by that inner voice. Feelings matter, intuition, and a fascination for people who live with a gift of sight. It is a very personal and subjective perspective on the world and a willingness to customize to individual needs. Relationships are what really matters.

Okay, that’s my top three. I have purposely not said male and female because I believe we all have a masculine and a feminine side we can all upon. I think a character is really interesting when they do a shift from one to the other, at least once.

  1. Kim, this is so interesting. My husband is definitely more practical than me, though it could be our personalities rather than our genders. Dick Francis’s wife co-wrote his books, and after her passing, he had male co-writers. I could tell a huge difference in the books. Neither ‘voice’ appealed to me, though I have enjoyed books by other male authors.

  2. Kim, a long time ago I had a link to an Israeli linguistic PhD student’s algorithm. You could paste in your text, and it would tell you if it was your male or female POV. I was always amazed when my male character’s POV came out male and my female character’s POV came out female. He’d apparently fed the writing of thousands of women and thousands of men into his programme and then was able to use language type and style to work out which was which. I looked and can’t find the link anymore. But it’s really an interesting field.
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