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Accommodating Gender Preferences in Storytelling
Differences don’t make us any less equal. A pen and a pad are two completely different things, yet they are equally important. In the same way, men and women are equal, yet distinct. The way a man and a woman write differs from each other. Both men and women don’t think, act, write or read the same thing. So, in writing, the differentiation of readers by gender should not be ignored; the ability to write for both male and female readers is a recipe for literary success that transcends gender. Here, we will try to educate ourselves on how both sexes differ so we can accommodate these differences in our writing.
Differences in Writing
Consider the stylistic discrepancy between these two statements: “I’m sorry we couldn’t make it; our car refused to start,” and, “The car engine had a clogged oil filter, and it was straight to the mechanics.” You can probably tell right away which sex is talking in each statement. If your writing is intended for female readers, ensure you use a lot of personal pronouns — I, you, and we — and descriptive terms. If your readers are male, substitute the pronoun usage for articles — a, the, and that — and active verbs, limit adjectives, add concrete facts and figures like numbers. To appeal to mixed readers, edit your writing to involve language that caters to both genders. When you see examples that cater to one sex more than the other, provide these instances with language that caters to the other sex. Your analogies should include one for each sex as well.
Differences in Reading
Recent surveys have shown that women read approximately 80 percent of literary fiction and most self-help books, while men are more inclined to reading history, science fiction, and political tomes. What each gender cares for is obviously different. While men want to see accomplishments, women seem to favor issues about relationships and emotions behind a story. While a man is interested in a child finally learning to walk, a woman is likely interested in what it felt like for the child to finally take its first few steps. So, no matter what you choose to write about, gender would have to play a dominant role, because what a woman wants when she reads a story is definitely different from what a man wants. So, to write a story for both sexes, you will have to give both sexes what they want. The female reader needs to see the emotions and thought processes of the main characters; what the characters are thinking and feeling during each plot point. The male reader needs to see the movement: the characters achieving something, deciding, taking every step they have chosen, and seeing how those steps are executed.
Differences in Speaking
Where style differences express themselves the most is in writing dialogue. A very tedious undertaking for writers is to give the right words to the appropriate characters in a way that sounds natural and relatable. The fear is to have a character sounding less believable and artificial, and writers need to identify the different ways each gender communicates and uses words. Women are more likely to state their preferences rather than demands. Men, on the other hand, use more commands and aggressive language. So, where a woman would say, “I would like a glass of water,” a man would say, “Grab me a bottle of water.” Women often use apologetic language even when being decisive. They might say, “I’m so sorry, but I’m going to have to cancel your card.” Also, men tend to hoard personal information in everyday conversation, while women frequently don’t.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Frank Stephen