It just occurred to me that there is this really common thing on Planet Earth. It's called Gender Dimorphism. It means, that there are guys..... and there are gals..... and they are different from each other. *GASP!* I know, right?! Totally weird! But it's totally true. And, what's more; the two opposites have great difficulty understanding each other.
Because of this phenomenon, I have noticed something that is a bit of a problem in the written world.
I like to visit gaming forums and Role Plays, and I often get asked to read other people's stories. So, I see a lot of very fresh writing from other people on a regular basis (most of it is very, very good writing, I might add). This gives me a good chance to see and analyze a lot of things about writing.
Here is what I see: in women's writing, male characters tend to be what I like to call "touchy-feely" and emotional. Why?
Girls are "critters of emotion", as I like to say. They rarely understand that guys are very non-emotional. This does not mean that men have no emotion. It simply means that the thoughts and actions of men just don't revolve around their emotions, which is the case for girls, and this often bleeds profusely into male characters that are created by women.
In men's writing, I tend to see female characters that are overly flirtatious, or too macho. Why this is the case, I'm not really for sure. It is either because A) they think girls are all ridiculously flirty (which I wont argue with...sorry girls.) or B) they believe girls think like they do: analytic, possessive, and non-emotional.
So, I am here to help out. I am going give the basics on how boys and girls are hard-wired as far as thought patterns, feelings, and emotions. It is nothing in depth, but it gives you something to think about for that opposite gender character that you've made.
So, girls, here we go: a crash course on guys. Yay!
(Guys: if any of you are reading this, any extra insight would be welcomed in the comments. After all, it is YOUR brain I'm talking about...)
1. Guys are materialistic and possessive. Ever heard the saying "he who dies with the most toys wins"?? Yeah, guys take that seriously, consciously or not. Objects are not inanimate to them. They view pretty much everything as something that either must be obtained, conquered, or protected... like a football! Their materialistic-ness is what makes them ambitious, competitive, and even romantic. Romance is not an emotional-fuzzy-shiny feeling for men, but an elaborate plan to get the ultimate prize: the maiden fair. They will go to great lengths to obtain and keep "the best", weather this be a girl, the football, a new stereo, or what-have-you. When put to the test, you never know what boys will do to get "the best". They may charge mindlessly into a fray of monsters, or blow lots of money on teddy-bears and chocolate...
2. Guys don't think with their emotions. They hardly ever talk about how they feel. Sometimes, I wonder if they even realize they have emotion. Guys are analytic and are creatures of logic. Emotion is illogical and cannot be analyzed. When they think, they strategize. They tend to pick plans that involve less trouble and effort for them. They are naturally lazy (sorry guys, but you are). They act on their possessive instincts (or hormones, take your pick) which make them naturally more protective and territorial. It's like playing football: they have a basic strategy, no details - kill the other guys, get the pig skin to the other side of the field, and win! Once that's done, go home (the castle) and watch TV (play a game of chess) while reclining in the Lazy Boy (the royal throne)...
3. Guys are all about power and respect, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Guys naturally want to feel 10 foot tall and bullet proof. Winning the football game, opening the unconquerable pickle jar, mastering a complicated song, slaying the dragon, saving the maiden fair, conquering the fortress.... these things and similar make a guy feel powerful and respected, the same way a man's tender attention makes a girl feel loved. Men will go to great lengths to feed this craving for respect, sometimes to the point of becoming an evil pirate. This often results in a power struggle between men (*poke, poke* great conflict in role plays and stories!), and it is also a major factor in why they are attracted to women. A girl, if she knows what she is doing, can make a man feel 20 foot tall and A-bomb proof... or she can pound him into rubble with a few simple words.
All three of those points make your basic guy. That is why men are better warriors, better leaders, tell great in-depth stories, start more wars, get into more trouble, and all that good stuff.
Ready for a crash course on girls now? It's pretty easy: they are just the opposite of a guy.
1. Girls think using emotion, basing everything on how they or others feel. They are able to feel what others feel in a way that men cannot understand. This is what makes them the best mothers, the best nurses, and the best listeners. It is not hard to get into a girl's heart, because your words, your actions will instantly filter through her emotions. Everything you do, everything you say, goes through the "feel" zone on a girl. How does that make her feel? How does she feel about that? It is what makes girls such drama queens. Even the most "macho" of girls will think using her emotions. What sets tough girls apart from extreme drama queens is that drama queens will instantly react to their emotions, where-as a tough girl will put a lid on her emotions and gush later.
The emotions of a woman is what can make her a Joan of Arc; passionate, inspiring, courageous, deep - or her emotions can take her to the other end of the spectrum and make her a Cruella de Vil; shallow, selfish, impulsive, boisterous, and all together annoying. And, of course, you have the in-between girls that make up the majority of the world.
2. Girls are verbal, whereas guys are visual. Girls like to talk about things. That is how they think and that is how they help others: they talk, and they listen while others talk. This is often where guys and girls collide, because guys just don't talk about things like girls do, and it often makes girls mad because they want to help and feel distanced if problems aren't shared (girls will even run silence through their "feel" zone - watch out!).
A group of girls with problems on their shoulders can get together and talk for hours about absolutely nothing and walk away feeling refreshed, accomplished, and pretty much like a new woman. It irritates them that guys are just like "Meh. Had a bad day at work. That's it." whereas a girl will walk in and go "Let me tell you ALL about my horrible day at work!"
3. Girls are relationship oriented. Everything to a girl has to do with a relationship. Again, this goes back to the emotions. They crave gentle attention, affection, sympathy, a listening ear...you know. Their support system revolves around this sort of stuff. Girls need girlfriends to hang with and talk to. They feel more confident when they have a guy to hold hands with. The pet fish is always finding a way to make her smile. And when all else fails, chocolate and cookies will always be there for her.
The world is either for her, or against her. It either lifts her up, or casts her down. One way or another, it revolves around her and is in some sort of relationship with her. It really doesn't occur to her that it is just a world and it doesn't care (and the world is totally for the guy's taking - another piece to add to his empire).
Girls are emotional, guys are analytic. Girls are verbal, guys are physical/ visual. Girls are relationship based, guys are respect based. Girls think with their hearts, guys think with their heads. And, while guys think that their brain is totally bigger that yours, every girl knows that her brain is actually switched ON.
I don't know if this helped you at all.
I've personally had lots of practice, since my main character in my books happens to be a male, but I still quite often have to take a step back and ask myself "Now, would a guy really do that, or is that a girl thing?".
If you really want to gain a deeper understanding of the differences between males and females, I suggest you go to a public place and watch people. Observe the differences between men and women.
Want something a little easier? Spend time with your parents or grandparents. Watch them each individually and pay special attention when they are interacting together. Or, if you are not that motivated, watch a Tom Hanks movie... I would suggest "The Terminal". It does an excellent job at depicting the difference between men and women.
Author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion,she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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