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Discussion Starter #1
Hello fellow writers and enthusiasts of PerC. I am an amateur fiction writer experiencing difficulty creating well-rounded and believable female protagonists. If I failed to mention it, I am a man. Being an INTP, I find it really challenging to see the world from the perspective of Feelers, which incidentally happen to comprise three quarters of the female population. Thinkers are much easier to understand, but as I writer I can't stand the thought of limiting myself only to Thinker women. Hence the dilemma which I've generated for myself. How can a man go about creating female characters with depth, namely Feeler women, when he doesn't truly understand the mindset of such women? Any advice would be much appreciated.
 

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I would avoid trying to write a "female character". Just write the character. Her gender shouldn't matter that much. It matters a little (like age does), but you don't want to stereotype your character, and thinking "hmm what do girls say?" might do that.

If she's the protagonist, then you're going to want to invest in her.

answer these questions:
What does she want?
What is she afraid of?
Does she care what other people think? Why/Why not?
Does she have any insecurities?
How does she handle conflict?
How does she handle intimacy?

These questions aren't gender specific, but they should help you develop a believable character.
 

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I tend to think of all characters not really puppets controlled by me but as their own people who think and act in their own way. They have their own mindset and their actions and my only job is to stick them in situations and record what they do.

It makes little sense for you to be able to understand all of your characters. Do you understand everyone in the world? I didn't think so. Could you? Unsurprisingly, I'm pretty dubious of this too. So, if we think of characters as their own people, it is only natural for you to not understand some, if not most, of them.

Suggestions:
- Don't think of characters as yourself AT ALL (not even one)
- Writing from third person can help with the above.
- Carefully observe and/or interact with real Feeler women
- Don't force characters to do stuff.
- Observe people in general. There are interesting patterns that can help a lot.

Hope this helped. (Though, now I read it again it seems pretty useless.)
 

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Gender shouldn't be taken into account. You should create a character and go from there. If you try and write female character you'll end up trying to hard and she'll sound like a desperate house wife. Look @mark174 questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I would avoid trying to write a "female character". Just write the character. Her gender shouldn't matter that much. It matters a little (like age does), but you don't want to stereotype your character, and thinking "hmm what do girls say?" might do that.

If she's the protagonist, then you're going to want to invest in her.

answer these questions:
What does she want?
What is she afraid of?
Does she care what other people think? Why/Why not?
Does she have any insecurities?
How does she handle conflict?
How does she handle intimacy?

These questions aren't gender specific, but they should help you develop a believable character.
Yes, not thinking of a character on the sole basis of gender is definitely a start. Questions like the ones you've listed I've been able to answer, but what I experience difficulty with is "getting into their heads" to know what they are thinking, feeling, and why they say and do the things they do. Inner monologue is definitely my Achilles' Heel. When I attempt to write inner monologue I only end up writing my own inner monologue (and there's a lot of it considering that I am a Ti-dom). So the question becomes: "how to make a character convincingly think for herself without resorting to stereotypes or one's own interior monologue?"
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I tend to think of all characters not really puppets controlled by me but as their own people who think and act in their own way. They have their own mindset and their actions and my only job is to stick them in situations and record what they do.

It makes little sense for you to be able to understand all of your characters. Do you understand everyone in the world? I didn't think so. Could you? Unsurprisingly, I'm pretty dubious of this too. So, if we think of characters as their own people, it is only natural for you to not understand some, if not most, of them.

Suggestions:
- Don't think of characters as yourself AT ALL (not even one)
- Writing from third person can help with the above.
- Carefully observe and/or interact with real Feeler women
- Don't force characters to do stuff.
- Observe people in general. There are interesting patterns that can help a lot.

Hope this helped. (Though, now I read it again it seems pretty useless.)
Well I am definitely guilty of the first, though this seems to happen subconsciously. IN-- male protagonists naturally end up borrowing my own thoughts which is definitely a problem I've been experiencing. Moreover, though I will agree that it's unrealistic for even the writer to understand all of the motivations of his characters (as much as he would like this to be the case), there needs to be sufficient understanding there to allow for empathy and a believable portrayal of the character in question. What one doesn't understand cannot be emphasized with nor properly articulated. This is why it so important for me to understand where my characters are "coming from", which understandably is easier if her mindset isn't all that divergent from my own. That gives you an INT- female, which isn't a bad thing, just limiting.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Gender shouldn't be taken into account. She should create a character and go from there. If you try and write female character you'll end up trying to hard and she'll sound like a desperate house wife. Look @mark174 questions.
Perhaps I am overanalyzing again. I do that, a lot. I suppose I am trying to create something which I don't fully have a grasp on, which obviously isn't wise in the least bit. Hmm...I've got some restructuring to do.
 

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Perhaps I am overanalyzing again. I do that, a lot. I suppose I am trying to create something which I don't fully have a grasp on, which obviously isn't wise in the least bit. Hmm...I've got some restructuring to do.
I am writing a short story right now and the main character I had an idea of what I wanted him to be. His personality I mean. What kind of character do you what want for your story? And don't say a woman. Do you want someone funny, depressed, a hero, a anti-hero, lonely etc. of you pick a hero create the hero you want, it just so happens she is a woman.

Sorry if I'm not helping I have a hard time trying to explain myself lots of times.
 

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Yes, not thinking of a character on the sole basis of gender is definitely a start. Questions like the ones you've listed I've been able to answer, but what I experience difficulty with is "getting into their heads" to know what they are thinking, feeling, and why they say and do the things they do. Inner monologue is definitely my Achilles' Heel. When I attempt to write inner monologue I only end up writing my own inner monologue (and there's a lot of it considering that I am a Ti-dom). So the question becomes: "how to make a character convincingly think for herself without resorting to stereotypes or one's own interior monologue?"
Is she presumptive? Specifically about the opinions of others? "He'll probably..." "She only said that because..."
Is she deductive? Does she think in terms of "if,then"? For example, "If do that, then this will happen?
Is she imperative? "I won't let them get away" "I can't quit now"
Is she anxious? "What will happen if I don't make it in time?" "What if he's lying?"
Is she declarative? "I love it when people underestimate me, it makes things so much easier." "If only they could all be like that."

Here are a few ways you can go. I suggest primarily sticking with one style predominantly. Over time the character will develop through her style.
 

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One problem I find when reading is that sometimes the conversations do sound a bit incestuous. What I mean by that, is that it is all coming out of one person's way of thinking and reasoning. You might want to pick a friend and have a conversation with her and see how she responds off the cuff to a list of questions and write exactly in her words what she says thus to get the feel of another person's thought processes. What I found that helped me was that I would sit in a restaurant or a cafe and over hear others' conversations and jot them down verbatim in order to get the feel of what other people would say which wouldn't have to make sense or be of a linear mindset... and most of all wasn't from ME... if you get what I mean. It is good as an author to get outside of yourself in order to develope the other characters. This I understand perfectly and think this is good practice for you. ;)
 

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I think that when you are creating the character, you really can't focus on gender. However, you may want to consider gender when the character is making choices. A lot of women aren't going to be gungho for the one night stand for instance. Most women will avoid certain places at night and avoid certain roads during the day. The first for their own safety. The second to avoid cat calls.

The best way to create a female character is writing her as if she were a man. Then to keep her believable, keep in mind personality types change a little with gender given the society and culture a person lives in.

As an example, ESTP men are generally very masculine. I have a small build and I'm a woman. Last time I body body checked a man playing street hockey I went flying (literally) and caught a concussion. I can't pull off cocky masculine. Some ESTP women will just go the tom boy route. I went the cocky very feminine route, partly because society isn't very open to thinking women.

There are differences within type that are affected by gender. I wouldn't consider these differences too early into the process of creating a character. Get the character down on paper and then consider gender late in the process.

If that helps at all.


ETA: I don't write much. I have done a lot of editing and proof reading for a friend that writes. These are my observations of what works and doesn't work.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I am writing a short story right now and the main character I had an idea of what I wanted him to be. His personality I mean. What kind of character do you what want for your story? And don't say a woman. Do you want someone funny, depressed, a hero, a anti-hero, lonely etc. of you pick a hero create the hero you want, it just so happens she is a woman.

Sorry if I'm not helping I have a hard time trying to explain myself lots of times.
I understand what you are getting at: essentially personhood should come first and gender second. There's some subconscious operation at work that just seems to say "yea, that sounds good, but is it realistic?" I'll then start to overanalyze things, self-doubt, and lose the essence of my character in the process. I feel like I am always wrestling against the prevailing (negative) female stereotypes out there. Consequently, I am likely to question the credibility of my own character at times, if it happens to be a she. I appreciate all the feedback.
 

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I understand what you are getting at: essentially personhood should come first and gender second. There's some subconscious operation at work that just seems to say "yea, that sounds good, but is it realistic?" I'll then start to overanalyze things, self-doubt, and lose the essence of my character in the process. I feel like I am always wrestling against the prevailing (negative) female stereotypes out there. Consequently, I am likely to question the credibility of my own character at times, if it happens to be a she. I appreciate all the feedback.
I appreciate that you're actually looking for input. So many times, I read books written by men and I'm annoyed by the female characters. It happens a lot. That you actually stopped to ask this question is a good sign.
 
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Discussion Starter #14
Is she presumptive? Specifically about the opinions of others? "He'll probably..." "She only said that because..."
Is she deductive? Does she think in terms of "if,then"? For example, "If do that, then this will happen?
Is she imperative? "I won't let them get away" "I can't quit now"
Is she anxious? "What will happen if I don't make it in time?" "What if he's lying?"
Is she declarative? "I love it when people underestimate me, it makes things so much easier." "If only they could all be like that."

Here are a few ways you can go. I suggest primarily sticking with one style predominantly. Over time the character will develop through her style.
This is helpful. I imagine how all could apply to one person, though for the sake of simplification it may not be necessary within the context of literature. On a similar not, what I've attempted to do is to use Jungian and Myers-Briggs typology to create a base personality for my characters. I found this to be also quite helpful, though it translating that theory to practice which isn't so clear-cut.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think that when you are creating the character, you really can't focus on gender. However, you may want to consider gender when the character is making choices. A lot of women aren't going to be gungho for the one night stand for instance. Most women will avoid certain places at night and avoid certain roads during the day. The first for their own safety. The second to avoid cat calls.

The best way to create a female character is writing her as if she were a man. Then to keep her believable, keep in mind personality types change a little with gender given the society and culture a person lives in.

As an example, ESTP men are generally very masculine. I have a small build and I'm a woman. Last time I body body checked a man playing street hockey I went flying (literally) and caught a concussion. I can't pull off cocky masculine. Some ESTP women will just go the tom boy route. I went the cocky very feminine route, partly because society isn't very open to thinking women.

There are differences within type that are affected by gender. I wouldn't consider these differences too early into the process of creating a character. Get the character down on paper and then consider gender late in the process.

If that helps at all.


ETA: I don't write much. I have done a lot of editing and proof reading for a friend that writes. These are my observations of what works and doesn't work.
Ouch. Yea, body-checking isn't recommended regardless what sex you are. I do think it is wise to get the basic character outline down on paper first before attributing gender to the character; oftentimes, I am guilty of doing the opposite, and once I've thought about a character being a woman first and foremost, the whole project pretty much goes downhill from there. The only female character that I've convincingly been able to create incidentally is an ENTP, and that's because I knew from the get-go what kind of character I was trying to create. Seems like I may have to re-evaluate my strategy. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I take pride in creating empathetic and realistic characters, and this is especially true for those that happen to be female. If I can't do it properly, then might as well not even bother with the process.
 

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Ouch. Yea, body-checking isn't recommended regardless what sex you are. I do think it is wise to get the basic character outline down on paper first before attributing gender to the character; oftentimes, I am guilty of doing the opposite, and once I've thought about a character being a woman first and foremost, the whole project pretty much goes downhill from there. The only female character that I've convincingly been able to create incidentally is an ENTP, and that's because I knew from the get-go what kind of character I was trying to create. Seems like I may have to re-evaluate my strategy. Thanks.
Yeah, body checking, not my brightest moment. I was still a teenager and I'm 5'9". It's harsh lesson that just because someone is about the same height, doesn't necessarily mean they have the same weight behind them. I've still forgotten that sparring in class.

What kind of woman do you have in mind this time? ISFP? ENFJ?
 

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I think that when you are creating the character, you really can't focus on gender. However, you may want to consider gender when the character is making choices. A lot of women aren't going to be gungho for the one night stand for instance. Most women will avoid certain places at night and avoid certain roads during the day. The first for their own safety. The second to avoid cat calls.

Haha! I'm all about one night stands. But, I do agree with you about not walking down certain places at night... etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yeah, body checking, not my brightest moment. I was still a teenager and I'm 5'9". It's harsh lesson that just because someone is about the same height, doesn't necessarily mean they have the same weight behind them. I've still forgotten that sparring in class.

What kind of woman do you have in mind this time? ISFP? ENFJ?
Goes to show that height isn't everything.

Well in particular I've been juggling between the INFJ and ISFJ in my current work, and there's an ENFP/INFP in yet another project . It's collecting dust somewhere along with the other partly finished works. :) I have intimate knowledge of the ISFJ since I've been around them all my life, though I have a natural N-bias when it comes to lead characters which nudges me towards the INFJ, a type with significantly different functions. It doesn't help that they are extremely difficult to read, being both introverts and intuitive feeling types.
 

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One problem I find when reading is that sometimes the conversations do sound a bit incestuous. What I mean by that, is that it is all coming out of one person's way of thinking and reasoning. You might want to pick a friend and have a conversation with her and see how she responds off the cuff to a list of questions and write exactly in her words what she says thus to get the feel of another person's thought processes. What I found that helped me was that I would sit in a restaurant or a cafe and over hear others' conversations and jot them down verbatim in order to get the feel of what other people would say which wouldn't have to make sense or be of a linear mindset... and most of all wasn't from ME... if you get what I mean. It is good as an author to get outside of yourself in order to develope the other characters. This I understand perfectly and think this is good practice for you. ;)
Female friends are lacking, so that leaves the eavesdropping option available to me. However, if been thinking about drafting a questionnaire that I may post here on PerC for female members to respond to at leisure, so that again is another option to consider. Off the top of your head, what type of questions are you referring to in particular? Open-ended questions? For instance, "how would you react in XYZ scenario?" That kind?
 
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