So my topic this week is How to Write like a Guy when you're a Girl, mainly because it's dawning on me that there's a good possiblity the MC for my newest WIP is actually a guy. I'm writing her as a girl and having a hard time. She's just so...guy. How can you tell? you ask.
A few ways. All of these are gleaned from the fact I've been married for half my life, and am currently raising two boys. Granted, men/boys are as varied as we are in their approach to life but after many discussions with Hubs on this topic, I've uncovered a few Secrets to Being a (heterosexual) Man. (The qualification is due to the fact I've not lived with or had a long discussion on this topic with any gay guys.)
- Guys are direct. They don't hide who they are. If a guy finds something interesting, he'll go after it no matter what society thinks. The push to conform so many girls feel at this age generally doesn't apply. I realize there are exceptions - there are always exceptions - but this is a major difference in the teen years.
- Guys fight...like guys. There's no long-term pouting or cold shoulder treatment. They may dance around the topic but when it comes up, they confront it. Head on. Boys deal in physical violence like girls trade in barbs, insults and petty put-downs - an emotional violence that studies show does more serious long term damage than a punch to the face.
- They don't obsess over the opposite sex.* Guys are just as direct with girls as they are with their friends. The problem is, that directness gets distorted because girls are hearing them through the hormone phone. Remember the movie "He's Just Not that Into You"? If he likes you, he'll call you. If not, he won't. He may not use words (because guys are chicken and seriously hate getting yelled at) but the message gets through.
- Guys speak with actions a lot more than words. And if allowed, they won't talk at all. Unless you're a girl whose attention they want and then they get all goofy. Which is an action all by itself.
- Guys will take what's offered without thinking they are required to give anything back. In a word: selfishness. Teenage guys have it in spades. (This is why they need to be trained. ;) There's no worrying if he hurt someone's feelings, no automatic obsession over how he came across. Guys spend way less time being embarrassed than girls. (See: guys are direct.)
- Guys live in the present. They go after what they want without fear of the consequences. Of course, this changes as boys turn into men but when they're young and single, they're pretty single-minded. Studies show the female brain is much better suited to considering long-term consequences, to picturing all possible scenarios in a second or two. This is why, when my toddler son went sledding down the hill heading toward a tree, I went racing down after him while my husband simply watched him go by.
- Guys don't notice the details/specifics. The baby was a girl, the food tasted good, you smell nice, that dress is pretty. Etc.
Bottom line: if a girl's emotional landscape is a mountain range full of peaks, valleys, glaciers and fast-flowing rivers of emotions, a boy's is more like a rolling plain. The peaks and troughs of a boy's inner life are (generally) much slower, gradual and less dramatic.
Compare and contrast your favorite male/female heroines. How are they different?
Next week, we'll discuss how these attributes translate on the page.