How To Write Characters Of The Opposite Gender
by Jacklyn Crooks
“Can’t he just listen? Why does he always have to try to fix me?”
“I’ve taught her how to ____ at least a dozen times, why does she keep asking me to do it?”
These are just a few of the questions that I’ve been asked in my years as a daughter, a friend, and a youth leader. They are questions that everyone has asked, at one time or another, about someone they love. Why? Because men and women are different. Bet you didn’t see that one coming! And that brings us to my point. I’ve had several friends ask me for advice on how to write a believable character of their opposite gender.
“What is she, dude, IronWoman? Really?”
“He feels…fake. Like a guy version of me. Shouldn’t he have his own personality?”
Girls write soft, mushy guys, and guys write detached, emotionless (sometimes crass) girls. Why? Because we write what we know. Girls know soft and mushy – we cry when we’re sad. We cry when we’re happy. We cry when someone else is sad or happy. Guys, on the other hand, not so much. As we all know. We’re sitting in front of a sappy movie, crying into our Kleenex, and there they sit, checking the NFL scores on their smartphone (Packers are up by ten, by the way). They like big guns, big explosions, big trucks. They couldn’t care less if their kitchen rug matches the curtains hanging above it, but they’ll buy three different scopes for the same rifle – one for morning, one for afternoon, and one for late evening. And they all match.
And this is why we all struggle to write characters of the opposite gender. But today I’m here to offer you some tips that I’ve learned for writing believable characters.
The best way to start is by spending time with the people you want to write. If you want to a convincing guy, spend time with guys. If you’re writing a Christian guy your age, observe the guys at church, youth group, school, while shopping – everywhere you go, there are people to watch. It’s the same for guys writing girls. It takes time; it takes patience. And it takes knowing what to look for.