Boxes Of Tools; Tangles Of Yarn: Part 1 – Know Your Character

 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?”

Boxes of Tools Pt 1 Post Graphic

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.

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Women In Combat: We Need More Strong Female Characters – Part 2

This post is a collaboration of thoughts from the KP Team, building off of part 1.

How should the Christian writer handle the prospect of female characters in combat? 

Strong Female Characters Part 2

Strength comes down to how well someone or something fulfills the purpose it was created for. Men and women were created to fulfill different roles, each reflecting one-half of God’s character. A woman doesn’t need to pick up the sword, or express military prowess to be strong.

Does this mean we can’t depict women in combat? Not at all!

As writers, we need to draw a careful distinction between aspects of the story that are there just because it reflects reality, and aspects that we’re trying to glorify.  In the context of whether not we should write stories with women in combat, this distinction can become pretty crucial.  There is nothing wrong with writing about “gung-ho, beat-’em-up female characters taking part in combat” necessarily. To the extent that our culture is moving in that direction, those sorts of people do exist in real life to some extent.  The real question then, is whether or not we present it in a positive light in our stories. Gender roles and gender callings are a tricky subject to wade through, especially in light of a culture that’s very hostile to drawing any distinction between men and women.  It therefore becomes imperative to focus on biblical commands to guide us through these discussions, and not on cultural standards.

The real question then becomes, “should we be glorifying women in combat?”

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We Need More Strong Female Characters – Part 1

“We need more strong female characters!”

I’m sure you’ve heard this battle cry before. Whether it be in books or movies, we hear the mainstream media and our peers clamoring for more “strong female characters”. And you know what? I agree with them; we do need more strong female protagonists in our stories.

Strong Female Characters Part 1

Of course, I disagree with the Feminists over what “strong” looks like for women and girls. For the Feminists, a “strong female character” is a woman who knows martial arts, and can beat up all the men with kicks and punches. She wears a sly, confident grin, and never needs any help, especially not from men. She is Independent and deadly.  She is equal, if not superior to, men in physical strength, and she curses just as crudely. This is a “strong” woman. In other words, an arrogant self-centered man…in female form. This is not strength, but brokenness and weakness.


 When “Strength” is Weakness

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