Dudes, how do I write guys??

Forums Fiction Characters Dudes, how do I write guys??

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    Noah Litle

    All great stuff, guys.

    I only have a couple things to add.

    In answer to @eden-anderson ‘s question: I would say it would take some powerful motivation for him to bottle up such turbulent emotions. As far as I know, people don’t bottle up emotions “just because”. If he had, say… a girl… that he wanted to impress (or maybe just get her to like him) for example. Or perhaps something to do with his father/identity. Fathers and identities often go hand in hand. I would say always, but I don’t know if I want to be that assertive.

    About showing emotion, I heard someone say recently that if your head leaks, then it won’t swell. It was a man that said it, too, as he was wiping tears from his eyes. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

    p.s. I only know a little.

    Hope Ann

    I’m not a guy. XD But I have watched/read/listened to stuff and gathered bits and pieces that make it interesting when writing a guy pov. And this is simply how a man and woman are different physically.

    I’m not talking about one (normally) being stronger than the other. More detailed. Sight, for example. Guys see distance and speed better. Girls see color and texture better (has to do with rods and cones and such in the eyes). Other interesting thing. The whole fight or flight deal is generally a guy mentality. A girl’s mentality is to hide. Again, normally. It’s not cultural. It’s the fact that a guy’s heart rate speeds up with he’s in pain. Girls will start slowing down. (Don’t quote me on that. But it’s something along those lines).

    And there are other details. Such as boys tending to be more restless in a classroom and able to study better where it’s slightly cooler while girls can study better when it’s just a little warmer. Or guys getting psyched up by shouting while the loud noises can stress girls out.

    And there are plenty of other things, I’m sure. But that’s the basics of what I remember. 😉

    The most important step a man can take is always the next one.

    Buddy J.


    Those are fun inputs!


    I’d like to add something here… and that is this. In southern culture I see a huge push for men to bottle up their emotions. I think there is a teaching for men to suppress their emotions. Now that’s not to say it’s being fought… I think men need to be able to show their emotions, but there are places where men are taught not to.


    -Wordsmith- Author of short stories, Reader of many books, Student in writing, and Lumenite!

    Noah Litle

    @the-fledgling-artist One more thing.

    Jill Williamson writes guys perspectives pretty well. But she did do one thing that bothered me. Somehow she got it in her head that guys can’t smell as well as girls can. So all the cooking smells were described as “something meaty”. She used this phrase two or three times (or more) in each of the Mission League books so far, and it really annoyed me. (Like, what? You think I can’t tell the difference between chicken soup and steak?)

    I’m just saying, be wary of any kind of “girls are this way, but boys are that way” kind of advice. God makes all kinds. For example, I don’t like loud noises. So much so that I am almost more comfortable hanging out with girls than I am with guys. Almost.

    Sorry @hope-ann , I don’t mean to rain on your parade.

    All I’m trying to say is, if you focus on all that stuff, you’ll just end up with a shallow viewpoint that will annoy guys. Focus on the emotion, and the human experience (as others were saying) then, if you can work that little stuff in subtly, then go for it. But I would say subtlety is key when it comes to little specifics like that. And I doubt anyone would notice if you left them out.

    Sorry again.

    p.s. I only know a little.

    Hope Ann

    @noahlitle Yes, everyone is different, definitely. Very good point. And I’d not use something like ‘guys see distance and speed while girls see color and texture’ to characterize every single guy/girl.

    Still, I would argue that norms can be helpful when it comes to writing the opposite gender. Because once you know the norms, you can then break them and use them in much more useful ways than haphazardly assigning characteristics to everyone regardless of gender.

    The most important step a man can take is always the next one.

    Taylor Clogston

    @hope-ann Thanks for sending me on a rabbit trail re the fight or flight stuff! It was some interesting reading that was new to me. As is obvious above I tend to lean toward “there’s no difference between guys and girls” too much and it’s good to stay grounded =P

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    Noah Litle

    @hope-ann Now I see the science in your post. I guess I just read it, related it to the “something meaty” thing, and freaked out.

    Sorry, @the-fledgling-artist . I was talking about wider, less scientific generalizations. Not necessarily what Hope was talking about.

    Sorry for misunderstanding you, @hope-ann . I do agree with you.

    But I still think subtlety is a good idea. Or at least smooth… ness.

    Never mind. I’m done. I’m  taking my foot out of my mouth so I can shut it. :-j

    p.s. I only know a little.


    @the-fledgling-artist @eden-anderson

    Honestly, I have no idea. 😛 (which is kinda sad since I’m a guy). I’d suggest following the advice of @daeus-lamb @karthmin @parker and all the other people who commented before me, because they could probably explain it better than I could. XD

    House Vizsla, Clan Avis
    Member of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, Phoenix Squadron

    Hope Ann

    @noahlitle ha. No problem. 😉 And while there might be scientific basis for things, there’s also situations and people in general. A girl’s backstory might incline her to fight at once while there might be guys who hide instead of fighting or running. Still, it can be an interesting study.

    The most important step a man can take is always the next one.


    @hope-ann Yeah, I’ll have to look into it.

    Someday. Whenever I try to write from a girl’s viewpoint. Which I should sometime soon. I have a story that needs me to add the leading girl’s viewpoint. Thankfully, there’s no romance, so that’s one less thing I have to worry about. 🙂

    “Creativity takes courage” -Henri Matisse

    Noah Litle

    @hope-ann Yeah, I’ll have to look into it.

    Someday. Whenever I try to write from a girl’s viewpoint. Which I should sometime soon. I have a story that needs me to add the leading girl’s viewpoint. Thankfully, there’s no romance, so that’s one less thing I have to worry about. 🙂

    (sorry @chalice)

    p.s. I only know a little.

    Eden Anderson


    “I would say it would take some powerful motivation for him to bottle up such turbulent emotions. As far as I know, people don’t bottle up emotions “just because”.”

    Yeah, I’ve been struggling with that fact for a while…it’s the main reason I asked the question.

    To be honest, there’s more than one reason that my character is keeping all his emotions bottled up. For one, he’s afraid if he lets something get to him, (if he succumbs to fear for example) then he’s gonna break down and everything’s gonna come spilling out and it’s going to totally ruin the image he has taken years to create…he can’t risk letting people see through his mask. Secondly, he doesn’t know how to deal with some of the stuff that happened to him so he just tries to ignore it and all the pain that goes with it. There’s other stuff that ties into it to.

    Does that sound realistic? Could those things be enough to keep him bottled up like that? (BTW, he never knew his father…and as far as girls go, he’s kinda occupied with other stuff and the girls he is around…well, they kinda annoy him. 😛)


    To everybody else who responded to my question. Thank you! You all have been very helpful and I’ve learned some interesting things. 😀

    *struts off to create the best male character ever written in the history of the world*

    Ha, ha…yeah right.


    "But how could you live and have no story to tell?" - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    KR LaLonde

    Easy. Take how a girl does things… and write the complete opposite. ^_^



    I was about to post a new topic, but went to look for a similar question first…. While I haven’t read all of the comments yet, the guys seem to have given some great input!

    I saw that @daeus-lamb said, “I sometimes see girls write who write passive guys who don’t seem to have strong yearnings or goals, but, while this might stem partly from them not understanding guys, I think it’s mainly just a run of the mill character development problem that doesn’t have much to do with gender.”

    I’m working on the possibility of writing part of my novel from a male character’s perspective, but after only a couple chapters seem to have found this problem, in a sense. I want him to be caring and a little bit insecure. But I don’t think I’ve been portraying his insecurity as guys realistically do, and that’s most of my problem. He is responsible and strong, but at his core hates conflict. I think there’s a stereotype that guys have a violent nature… Thoughts? How do I realistically portray a male character who just wants everyone to get along (at first, anyhow)?

    2 Corinthians 12:9


    How do I realistically portray a male character who just wants everyone to get along (at first, anyhow)?

    That is an interesting problem. (I’m a girl, though…*headscratch*) I think it has to do with the form of appeal. The gal who wants everyone to get along will appeal to emotion and spend a lot of time talking about common goals. The guy is more likely to storm off and show everyone why they should work together by attempting to fight a small class evil bad guy to show that the team should focus on what he wants. Show versus talk.

    Girls tend to want to cater to every viewpoint and build a suitable compromise so everyone is happy. Guys tend to want to get everyone on board with their plan, their vision. They like to show off their skills and abilities and strut their stuff, rather than the feminine instinct of wanting to support and nurture other people’s talents. The gal version of getting along is compromise among interests and consensus and willing to sacrifice your interest for the good of the group; the guy version of getting along is “everyone agrees with me.” 😀

    This is coming from a girl who has spent far too much time observing guys for precisely the reasons this topic outlines…

    The other “scientific” thing I’ve heard about guys is that they can spend days in either their left or right brains, whereas women easily switch between the two within minutes. For reference, the left brain is mathematical, logical, and puts things in order and makes sense of stuff, while the right brain is more creative, interconnected, and emotional.

    How does this play out in the story? Let’s say that you protagonist is fighting an evil bad guy and one of his friends gets injured. A male protagonist would be in left-brain mode because he is fighting the evil bad guy, so he would ignore the emotional impact of what happened to his friend and continue the fight and win. After the fight, he would take his friend for medical care (again, still logical) and see to the treatment. But it will take hours for the emotional impact of the injury to sink in. If another evil bad guy needs to be faught in short order, the guy will go straight back into battle.

    By contrast, a female protagonist in the same situation will have the emotional impact of the injury will sink in immediately, and they might even mess up the fight with the evil bad guy as a result of the distraction. The fight will be much harder for the female protagonist to win, and even if they do win, they won’t feel good about it because of the emotional cost, because in their mind beating Snorgface wasn’t worth it if their friend’s arm got amputated. After the fight, they will be beside themselves with grief and crying with their friend. Okay, that might be slightly exaggerated, but you get the point.

    Contrast another type of story – let’s say that a couple just had a baby. The guy in the situation will be in right-brain mode ready to hug and protect his little child, and more likely to make mistakes in battle – or in work – and cheerfully write them off or make man-excuses because he’s on cloud nine. Aww.

    The woman in the situation will register the emotional impact of the situation too, but she will be immediately able to be more practical about the matter. She will be into the logical aspects of caring for the new child – do we have the right brand of sippy cups? Do we have enough diapers? Unlike her husband who is enjoying himself and being a goofball, she’s on top of the emotionally loaded situation and making sure the family infrastructure doesn’t collapse.

    Thus, for the female writer writing male characters, it’s important to know which side of the brain your male character is in, and keep him there for long sections of prose. Unlike your female characters who will instantly register all of the logical and emotional things and all of connections between the two within minutes, your guy will enter the logical realm…and stay there…and enter the creative/emotional realm…and stay there. Make no mistake – they perceive both realms in detail, and sometimes in more detail than their female counterparts due to all of the hopping and switching we do, but it takes them longer to make the switch and understand the connection between the spaces. As a result, they may feel that their identity is fragmented into separate people and roles and that they don’t understand themselves as a result, an almost uniquely male thing.

    It’s also why a man fighting alone versus a man fighting with his son is very different in text…anyway, I’ll knock this off since I’m not a guy. But I’ve found this writing advice to be extremely helpful in writing realistic male characters – it’s kind of like what @karthmin said, but maybe a bit more practical.

    (I also found all of the other advice in this topic to be helpful, gentlemen. Thank you for your contributions. :D)

    Sarah, Miss S, Sierepica_Fuzzywalker

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