Men vs. Ladies: Perspective on Characters

As a writer reading is important to me for many reasons, the sheer enjoyment of it, research and education, and keeping up with the world. My pleasure reading encompasses both male and female authors, young and those who have been around the block a few times. I never read a genre that may influence whatever I’m working on at the moment. I write fantasy and won’t even crack a book in that genre. Afraid that I might be prone to subconsciously copying a fellow author, I wait until I am far removed from my work to dive in another author’s fantasy. I do write other genres and that rule would apply as well.

As of late I have noticed the distinct difference in character presentation by male and female writers. I like both, but I started to wonder if it colored my reading process in any particular way. Clive Cussler always gives great personality traits whereas I am left a little visually challenged. Don’t get me wrong, he does provide details, and he is on the money with women’s fashion. I still somehow never get a picture in my mind’s eye 100% of how his characters look. I Like Mr. Cussler’s writing very much, and I do have to force myself to close his book, or I will be up all night. I believe the physical presentation is a gender perspective.

I also read Nora Roberts a.k.a J.D. Robb. Her characters visually jump off the page for me. I can paint a detailed picture of the characters’ attributes. By no means am I trying to take anything from either of these authors, but I am interested in asking my fellow male writers if they feel visual display is a key factor in their stories. I should be so lucky to have the success of either of these authors.

I would love to hear any feedback from either side. Is this is my viewpoint alone, or is there a gender perspective difference?

6 thoughts on “Men vs. Ladies: Perspective on Characters

  1. dvberkom says:

    Interesting post, Aron. I prefer less description, allowing my brain to conjure the character myself. So, obviously I’m drawn to thrillers written by men rather than women. I also tend to write that way, since that’s what I enjoy. I’ve read Cussler and enjoyed his over the top action, but haven’t ever cracked a Roberts book–mainly because I am not a romance reader, although I hear the Robb books are less so. And I totally get why you don’t read the same genre as you write when you’re writing, although I’ve begun to let a few thrillers slip into my nightly reading. I’ve been reading for cadence and flow, and learning from the greats is one of the best ways I’ve found so far.

    • aronjoice says:

      Thanks DV. I like the Robb series better, more action and a bit gritty. I lean towards those more than the Roberts, although I have read my fair share. Cussler is great on the action. I am always double checking myself, wondering if something has wormed its way into my subconscious. They say everything has already been written, it is just in the new translation, maybe true, I’m not sure. I was interested in your opinion since I know you have strong female characters. Another thing I have picked up on lately is formula, and how it is used successfully in a series. I agree that by reading the greats, not just the successful, can only enhance ones work.

  2. It’s an interesting question, not something I’ve given much attention to. All I can say is that my visual descriptions of my characters, while present, are pretty sketchy. I don’t like to give too much detail as I believe it takes away from the reader’s ability to create a picture in their own mind that enhances their immersion into the story. I find that if a description is too detailed I find myself thinking it doesn’t suit how i ‘see’ the character.

  3. aronjoice says:

    Like yourself Yvonne, I don’t give too much detail, but I feel enough so that a reader can create their own vision of said character. What I have noticed is that female writers give a tad more in the descriptive area than the men. It made me wonder if men perceived their characters more from a personality stance than physical. Does it make a difference in the long run? I don’t think so if you have managed to grab your readers attention. I would like to have a bit more than ‘her long dark hair pulled back neatly in a ponytail.’ BTW, no one actually wrote that, only intended for show and tell.
    Thanks for your input.

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