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Male Vs Female

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by WarriorPrincess, Mar 29, 2013.

Can you tell the difference between a female's writing and a males?

  1. Yes

    11 vote(s)
  2. No

    14 vote(s)
  1. WarriorPrincess

    WarriorPrincess Minstrel

    Not sure if this particular subject has came up in threads before, but it recently came up in a conversation of mine.

    Are there any noticeable differences between fantasy novels written by females Vs Males? And do you think you could tell if it was written by a female but published under a male name?

    I personally enjoy both, and don't notice much difference. But can anyone else?

  2. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    I'm going to answer with a tentative yes. But that comes with a huge caveat: to me the difference is only really obvious in beginner writers. In my creative writing class, the difference between the males and females in terms of writing style was obvious if not quite neatly defined. When writers get older and become more experienced, the difference is less pronounced.
    WarriorPrincess likes this.
  3. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    My writing is usually evaluated as either female or foreign--my style doesn't seem to be common amongst male Americans.

    (Autocorrect doesn't think amongst is a word. Then again, Autocorrect doesn't think Autocorrect is a word.)

    Speaking more broadly, there are definitely men who don't have any idea how to write female characters, but that doesn't necessarily mean a writer who can write female characters is female. (Oddly, I've seldom encountered female writers who don't know how to write males--maybe because there are so many male writers writing male characters that it's hard not to pick up at least one believable male archetype to imitate?)
  4. Alexandra

    Alexandra Closed Account

    I don't know, I've never thought about it. I do know that I can tell the difference between good writing and bad.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
  5. glutton

    glutton Inkling

    Not all the time but there are some writing styles that are more often male and some that are more often female. For example the genre romance style is usually female, although there are some male writer who write romance under pen names, and the 'hardcore warrior story' style is more often male - but some women like Donna Gillespie write it well, but more of the ones who do it are men. Elizabeth Moon is another who writes in a nice gritty style.

    Yes I do actually mean style and not plot because you could write a love story in a non-genre romance style, or a story about a warrior that doesn't come off as 'hardcore'.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
    WarriorPrincess likes this.
  6. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

    To be honest: no I can't, I never think of it and I find it completely irrelevant :)
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I would say say that if I absolutely had to sit down and type out a list of what I'd expect from male and female writers (I'm not going to), I would say that Martin and Rowling catch those differences pretty well.

    I respect Martin's style a lot. But I enjoy Rowling so much more. That's just how it is.

    I'm not going to try and pinpoint what I'm talking about, and I kind of hope nobody else tries to, either. And of course nothing is even remotely absolute. But by no means do I think those differences are a bad thing. Always play to your strengths. If men and women sometimes have slightly different strengths, then sometimes that should show up in the writing. And I think that's a good thing.
  8. glutton

    glutton Inkling

    I will also say that for what I think of as typical 'high fantasy' style, it's pretty hard for me to notice a difference between male and female writing styles.
  9. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    That's a tough one.

    Any perceived differences between men and women's writing is going to be entirely social. Which means that it is going to vary from culture to culture. 'Feminine' writing traits or content in modern (white) America are not at all like 'feminine' writing traits or content in modern Japan, or Ancient Greece (for the very few female writers there were), or even 1800s America. For instance, as glutton mentions above, romance is a woman-dominated market both in the writing and reading... in the West. Not true of all countries and times, however. Even within Western countries, the roots of romance are masculine. The courtly romances of Lancelot and Guinevere were written by men; it wasn't until the Victorian era that we began to see a shift.

    Personally, I see a few things that are more common with women than men (in modern, Western, fantasy literature), and vice versa. They're not universal, but they aren't bad indicators. I know all the men here are above it, but let's be honest, if a work has few to no women in it, and the women that are in it are scantily clad, damsels in distress, or super tsundere... it was probably written by a man. And, as a rough equivalent, the entire 'feminist SFF' subgenre is unsurprisingly dominated by women. Romance is definitely more popular with female writers, and power fantasies ala Conan the Barbarian tend to be more popular with men. There are subtle shades of all four of these that I think, on some level, I'm picking up enough that I can make a guess about the writer's gender. But I'd probably never make a bet on it.

    Stylistically, I don't think there is any difference.
    A. E. Lowan and WarriorPrincess like this.
  10. I'm sure there's some difference. I doubt I could reliably tell just by reading the story, though. Aside from the fact that storytelling works the same way either way, it's reasonable to assume at least some men lean towards a feminin style while some women lean towards a masculine one.

    So, there's probably enough variables here to make any guesswork mostly meaningless.
  11. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    I shouldn't be able to tell if the author did their job properly. I should be too engrossed in the story to notice any gender intricacies (assuming they even exist).
    Jamber likes this.
  12. Devora

    Devora Sage

    Yes. It comes from how Male and Female writers form their sentences in stories, and how they present details.
  13. Jamber

    Jamber Sage

    A well written book can do anything, including 'be written' convincingly by someone of the opposite gender to their name. Many early works by women authors were published this way.

    While differences can be the there, writing is a kind of impersonation anyway. We impersonate the kind of author we'd like to read. I feel the only question to ask is whether it's well done.
  14. That may be true if you are an ordinary reader, but what if you are deliberately reading the book with a very analytical mindset, specifically to catch any subtleties a normal reader would not consciously pick up on?
  15. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    Unless you're making a study of the writing for educational purposes, I don't see the value in searching for any gender differences.

    Good writing is good writing.
  16. Alex Beecroft

    Alex Beecroft Scribe

    I think you can tell sometimes. Mercedes Lackey, for example, definitely writes like a girl. (And now someone's going to tell me she's actually one Mark Lake writing under a pen name aren't they?) And I hope that most of the 'ew, women are icky and mysterious, but I suppose the hero has to have a love interest so here, have a token female character' books I've read over the years were written by men. But most of the time you really can't tell. Look at James Tiptree Jr, for example - lauded as a great masculine writer until someone found out he was a woman. Andre Norton - I had no idea she was a woman until someone told me only last year. The romance genre is full of men writing successfully under female pseudonyms, and all the other genres are full of women writing successfully under male ones. So really no, you can't tell.
  17. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    Seeing as how James Tiptree Jr. is most famous for a): a story about how awesome the world would be if all the men died, and b): a story about men becoming murderous rapists, I think men back then only assumed she was male because they didn't want to believe someone so technically accomplished could be a woman.
  18. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    I think if you think about it, there will be something that stands out in woman writers that men normally wouldn't think of.
    Different thought patterns, different views, different way of writing it. It's not great earth shattering changes, just little things.

    every writer is unique, every female writer, every male writer, but certain thought processes just shine through.

    Having said that, doesn't mean either is better, one is more blood and guts, or one is more relationship based. Its not that obvious.
  19. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    See this is why I gave the caveat. Only in beginner writers does gender truly stand out. Fledglings most likely haven't found their voice yet, haven't mastered close POV, etc. Most experienced writers can sound like anything they choose, but may prefer to use a certain style. Beginners don't have that skill and are more likely to either:
    A) imitate their favorite author
    B) write "typical" masculine or feminine prose because it doesn't take much effort
    C) All of the above

    When it comes to experienced writers it's harder to tell what's due to gender and what's due to personal style choice, POV, etc. It's especially hard to tell if you're going in blind and/or the writer is trying to trick you.

    Re: Tiptree, it is strange no one suspected her even after she wrote two stories about how men are the scum of the earth. Typically men don't write like that unless they have some deep self-esteem issues.
  20. Hard to tell; if I had to give an answer I would say no, given that I've read some novels by Naomi Novik and Anne McCaffrey. Their style of writing fantasy isn't obviously different from male authors.

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