How to write a girl when you're a guy. [Lit]

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How to write a girl when you're a guy. [Lit]

Post by Kipper »

How to write a Girl when you're a Guy.

Developing a female character is no different than any other character other than you have additional questions you have to ask yourself. Really, these sorts of questions need to be answered for male characters as well, but you, being male, can do that without second thought. When I start working on a female character, these are the areas I apply to the character.

Relationships

Importance: Girls are naturally more social than guys. The question you have to ask yourself is, how does this tendency fit into your character? Are they social butterflies? Shy? Why are they the way they are? If they're a shy girl, is it because of some sort of upbringing issue, or is it simply a natural tendency? If you're outgoing, were you in an environment where you had to meet a lot of new people? Does your character hate people? It doesn't matter what you decide, it just has to be a decision you make consciously.

Girls: How does your girl react to other girls? Is she a tom-boy that likes to hang out with the other guys? Is she the queen bee? Does she have some girls she trusts but others she doesn't? You have to make these decisions carefully because girls interacting with other girls is a very complex and nuanced system that can be difficult to master. You should take some time to figure out what kind of girls she likes and what kinds she dislikes and why.

Boys: Boys is much the same: what sort of qualities does she find attractive versus unattractive? Focus on personality rather than looks here, because girls are willing to overlook physical flaws for a person that supplements their weaknesses while affirms their strengths. Figure out the weaknesses of your girl and determine what sort of boy would be able to make her feel like she can overcome those. Furthermore, when interacting with boys, most girls will be more apt to kick them aside if they're treated poorly or betrayed. Female-female relationships are stronger and more important than non-romantic-female-male relationships. Unless you change that around, but you have to ask why.



Body

Self Image: Everyone suffers from body image problems. But girls more so than guys, and some girls moreso than other girls. Even if your character is gorgeous (which most characters on the site probably are...) there will be things about her body she doesn't like and will never be convinced that she will like. To add another layer, make her hate something that another girl might be jealous of: being tall, having straight hair, having larger breasts. This happens all the time in girl-world (form what I've seen, anyway) and it can really help you connect with female readership.

Awareness: Girls are far more aware of their bodies than guys are, which contributes to the self-image problems. One problem male writers have is that out of respect, they tend not to focus on the actual anatomy of the female body. They stray away from words like "breast" or "butt" and avoid changing clothes and the like. This is a dead giveaway that you're a squirmy male writer. You have to remember that while us males nearly-worship the female body, to them it's just a body. Boobs are just things that get in the way when you're trying to punch an enemy ninja, and bras are just things to keep them in place. Especially with other girls, most girls are very comfortable with talking about their bodies, though mostly in a matter that is rather clinical and/or practical. Ignoring their parts of the body is just as bad as oversexualizing them (addressed later) as it makes it unrealistic.

You do have to decide on a level of comfort for your character, though. The level of comfort will be dependent on the availability and openness of a mother or mother-like figure, how many other girls she hangs around with, and her own self-esteem of her body. Some girls are so comfortable they walk around nearly nude (though often this is a sign of low self-esteem) while others can barely change their clothes in the presence of another girl. You just have to pick and choose.

Over-sexualization: Probably the number one problem with male writers writing females. Every character has giant boobs and wears a miniskirt and is a fighting expert and loves to make out with everyone. L.A.M.E. Please keep your fantasies to yourself and remember you're supposed to be a girl. Yes, some girls are sexual and you can't ignore that, but there is a limit and balance to everything. Overtly sexual characters are usually just frustrated male fantasies. The psychology of an overtly sexual character can be very complex and very interesting if done well but you need quite abit of skill to pull it off. Still, you do need to make decisions about how comfortable your girl is with the idea of sex and set a limit of interest, curiosity, and fear.


Mind

Manipulation: Because of their social skills, girls can be master manipulators. You need to decide how much manipulation they will use and who they will use it on. You may decide that they don't want to manipulate at all, that they're straight-shooting say-what's-on-their-minds kind of girl, and that's totally fine. But, the difference between a male non-manipulator and a female non-manipulator is that a female non-manipulator will be aware of the techniques being used by a a female manipulator. Where as the sultry seductress might tempt the male into bed, the female will see through her tricks and probably punch her in the face. One problem I see with male writers is that when they try to make a tomboy-ish character is that they give their females all of the same male weaknesses. This is a mistake. A tomboy actively chooses not to participate in typically female thoughts and activities, but is still aware of them. A normal male may not be aware of them.

Society: Keep in mind that society will always affect your character, females especially. Professions are still male-dominated and as such your girl can have varying feelings from wanting to prove equality to letting the boys doing all the heavy lifting while she files her nails. Culture, personal history, and environment will also change how a woman will view herself.

Emotions: Everyone feels emotions. Like any character, you have to choose how much emotions effect that person and how they are expressed. Strong female characters are not emotionless. It is a large pet peeve of mine to see this. I don't know why. And I'm not just talking about RPers, I'm talking about published novelists who turn their characters into angry, cold automotons in an attempt to make them seem strong. Even if your female is stoic, she will have internal emotions that she struggles against.


How to improve
The best way to improve is to pay attention.

-Talk to girls. LISTEN TO THEM. This is just good advice for life, but the more you pay attention to what a girl says, the more you find out how they determine what things are important and what are not. I have done this for a long long time, so I have a lot of experience to draw on. But never stop paying attention to people.

-Use a model. No, not that kind of model you retard. If you're using a female character for the first time, base it off someone you know. It's like training wheels for RPing.

-Study your favorite female characters. Why do you like them? How did they answer those above questions?

-Read Shoujo manga. I do. A lot. Some are trash, but some have some very interesting and complex female protagonists.

-Study female RPers writing females. Probably the easiest way to do it. Of course, some of them are just bad writers, but I'd say the majority of the girls here are excellent.

-If you have a question, ask. I ask girls all the time if a girl would do this or that. Having a girlfriend helps, but you can always bug one of your fellow RPers too.


And that's about it. I tried to keep it generalized, and tried to keep it from sounding too much like "girls are like this." Hopefully I didn't offend anyone D:

Please feel free to discuss the above points, even if (or especially if) you disagree. Other tips and tricks are welcome too.
Last edited by Kipper on Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Jackie Haystack »

nods slowly reading the topic with a huge amount of intrest. See, this is the stuff I'd pay to get a good instructor for because of my tendancy towards female characters. I'd like to think that I do reasonably well in it, though Justin's told me that inspite of being a good 'girl' it's still obvious its a guy playing it... I hope I can improvebut yes, this tutorial deserves a massive thumbs up for cool subject materiel that stays away from excessive 'men always play sex idol tomboy' rants :P

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Post by Sade »

Yes, thank you for this, it will come in handy when I make my emotionless super-soldier sex-goddess!

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Post by Rainwhisker »

Thanks for making this -- gives me a rough guide on how to play a female role.
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Post by Indrick151 »

Yes and that bit about oversexualisation reminds me of the classic D&D and fantasy novel cliche: a chain bikini and chain underwear (with the arms, belly, and legs exposed) seems to be a piece of impervious armour that protects that character from nearly all harm. Or it provides them with as much protection as a suit of full plate.
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Post by Bigfox3 »

*Runs over and hugs her* This is absolutely brilliant! Erm... Now all we need is the other tutorial for writing guys, since I'm weird like that and have doubts about how I'm writing both. XD
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Post by Rainwhisker »

Indrick151 wrote:Yes and that bit about oversexualisation reminds me of the classic D&D and fantasy novel cliche: a chain bikini and chain underwear (with the arms, belly, and legs exposed) seems to be a piece of impervious armour that protects that character from nearly all harm. Or it provides them with as much protection as a suit of full plate.
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Post by Jackie Haystack »

Ya, qoute booking that quite possibly... :P

Also yeah, one for how to play guys, I vote Indy as good for that part :P and no, that wasn't sarcastic.

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Post by KatKry »

What about the girls that play guys?
http://www.twilightus.net/feila/viewtopic.php?t=3584
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Post by Jackie Haystack »

Oooh... I could teach Kat. Then she'd do it wrong! XD

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Post by KatKry »

Hey! I RP guys fine, thank you very much! At least, I think I do >.>
I was jsut saying that some girls need help when it comes to RPing dudes, is all ^^"
http://www.twilightus.net/feila/viewtopic.php?t=3584
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Post by Jackie Haystack »

Heh, well, yours can be a tad lacking in the ott machoness :P

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Post by KatKry »

Not all guys are macho *Looks innocently at Jackie*
http://www.twilightus.net/feila/viewtopic.php?t=3584
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Post by Jackie Haystack »

me? I'm macho, I just hide it better, plus, we know I'm f*cked in the head darling ^^

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Post by KatKry »

Who isn't and...hey! What's with the avatar change all of a sudden, Mr. Macho?
http://www.twilightus.net/feila/viewtopic.php?t=3584
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