Writing Genders In Fiction

Well, I didn’t promise I’d be back soon . . .

Okay, so . . . writing genders in fiction. How do you go about doing it? What’s the right way to do it? What’s the wrong way to do it? How far into stereotypes do you go? Well, I have absolutely no idea. So, it only makes sense that I give advice on the matter, right?


So, without further ado, here’s my short list of quite possibly terrible points of what to do on the matter of writing genders . . .

1. Do not write genders.

This is my number one golden rule when writing characters and comes before any other. Write a character, not a gender. When you start delving into how you should go about trying to write a convincing male or female or whatever your opposite gender is, you may find that you just end up restricting how far you can go into developing your character. Sure, men and women have some innate differences and experiences, but in reality, every individual is different. And besides, it’s fiction. Who knows what each gender’s role is in the society you’re writing? Have a highly emotional and sensitive man. Have a tough as nails woman who keeps her emotions to herself. Have a man who loves watching sappy soap operas. Have a woman who loves drinking beer and watching sports. Conclusion? Do not get caught up in trying to write a convincing member of the opposite gender. Get caught up in trying to write a convincing character.


2. Stereotypes aren’t bad if they’re convincing.

In other words. Literally, everything I pointed out in point number one. Nothing further needs saying.


3. Yes. There are actually differences in men and women.

This is a given. If you’re writing about today’s society, men and women will, in fact, have very different experiences growing up. Again, like the previous two rules, your story does not have to abide by any such social norms. But in general, each gender is essentially programmed by society into behaving as what is considered normal for their gender. And while my next point essentially contradicts my previous two points, it’s still true. Generally speaking, men are more aggressive than women. Generally speaking, women are more emotional and more open to talking about their feelings. Stereotypes. Yes. I am generalising. Biologically speaking, we are different and this does, to some extent, affect how we interact with each other. Without getting too much into such details, if you are really set on shoving it into your readers’ faces that, yes, this character is male, and yes, this character is female, then show how they behave differently from each other, in general. Show how different their daily/morning routines would be, and whatnot.


4. Friends?

If you have somewhat useful friends of the opposite sex and you’re having issues writing said sex, ask them for help. Not necessarily a rule, but a second opinion couldn’t hurt. They would likely be able to pick up some of the awkward parts in the writing and tell you what sounds right and what doesn’t. Though, if you’re not one for sharing your work . . . well, I’ll direct you to the other rules and rule number five.


5. Just write!

Don’t worry about whether your character comes across as a realistic male, female, bigender, pangender, agender, or any other other gender identity. You know why? Let’s go back to rule number one: Do not write genders and Every individual is different (Shh, I can definitely quote myself). Write a realistic character.


I’m just going around in circles now, it seems. I should stop here, then. Hopefully I’ve helped someone get around any issues they had, writing their characters. I probably haven’t but hey, here it is. In my opinion, if you only go by one of them, make it number one.

So . . . if you like taking advice from an eighteen-year-old who is probably one of the most unproductive writers you will come across, I’ll be back soon with more . . . “advice”.

Till next time, guys.

Laurence out.

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