the Rift

Tips for Writing Male Characters

Brit Posts: 11
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So in Dragons Throat chat we were discussing the sad lack of stallions on Helovia. And I know for myself it's because I find them very very hard to write. I am someone who loves breaking gender roles and so my characters always take after me without fail and end up either straight out gay (yeah I rub that off too) or very feminine in a traditional sense. Which doesn't really help when there are few gay characters on site.  

I tried my best with Kaj and it worked pretty well but I really wanted tips for how to write male characters that aren't harmfully sexist because I could never bring myself to write that.

What do you guys suggest?

Roskuld the Sparklight Posts: 424
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Be direct. Make the character do things without justifying or explaining them too indepthly. It doesn't have to be bad things or brainless, just:

Lila is crying.
Lila likes eating apples.
I should get Lila some apples so she'll feel better!

Instead of

Lila's crying. It hurts to see her like this; but how can someone like me make it better for her? How can I ease her suffering? Is it my place to do so?

She enjoys apple--hmph. I shouldn't diminish her problems in such a way, as though a mere fruit could fix the ache in her spirit. But I have to do something to show her that I care, don't I? I only hope these apples can bring her comfort, even if they cannot bring her joy.

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Odd the doer of things Posts: 115
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I wasn't trying to be funny when I said stop writing emotions. Not to generalize an entire gender, but like .. I ask Dan all the time like "Baabes, what are you thinking" or like "Ooh, how did that make you feel?" And it isn't that he doesn't know how to communicate things, he legit does not have an answer. He just shrugs and does things. He doesn't internalize, he doesn't overthink, he just does.

I think when you start writing out emotions, you sort of go down a path of emotional complexity that leads you away from the 'type' of male you seem to struggle writing.

Write about the things they are doing, rather than how they are feeling about doing them.


Just to be fair, your gender and sexual identity aren't necessarily linked. You want to be a super emotional straight male, that's totally fine too. They don't go hand in hand.
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Mauja the Frozen Light Posts: 1,392
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Writing a male character is, honestly, just using the pronoun "he"...
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Roskuld the Sparklight Posts: 424
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I think the question is writing a "masculine" character vs just writing a male character

which...could be it's own conversation (What IS masculinity?? What MAKES A MAN??) but I think in this instance Brit's asking about writing a certain type of character instead of what she's generally used to?

Am I good for saying this or am I talking out of my ass @Brit .__.

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Blu the Bootyful Posts: 443
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I actually prefer to write males haha! I still have emotional males, but I also think I have a tendency to write more direct overall (maybe why my mares come off a bit manly too) so I can fully agree with what the Odd and Smithers have said regarding that. It's not like, don't write emotions, but more of, do more action instead of more emotion, especially if you have a tendency to do the opposite already.

I do however want to add that thinking about sex does play a larger role, imo. Again I don't want to get too deep into gender roles and rape culture and all of that, BUT males are wired by nature to want to spread their seed. Women are wired by nature to protect their egg and pick the best candidate to fertilize them. So Women can put a lot more rationale and emotion and judgement behind their sexual, or lack thereof, choices, where as men have an impulse in the opposite direction to screw without much thought.

Obviously we still hold men accountable, they are not mindless sex machines etc, but it doesn't change the fact their biology is different and that it underlies a lot of their thoughts and actions. I'm not saying make a man slut if you don't want to, but their genitals play a big role whether we like it or not.
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Brit Posts: 11
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Mare :: Other :: 15hh :: 19
Yes! Exactly what Smithers said.

Blu you do have a really good point. I think my issue is finding a good balance with the sexuality portion, because I'm not a fan of objectification and such when it comes to male characters (let's ignore the outlier Hotaru here lmao).

So I guess my question is more how do you create and play a "traditionally masculine" character without hyper sexuality? Maybe more protective urges, or possessive? Walking the fine line with a monogamous but sexual character? Advice for that?

ChaoticMelodies Posts: 0
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I'm really bad at playing male characters that fit into this type of "masculine" role (lol Quilyan) but in terms of the biology behind it, it might be helpful to look at males of different species and see what their behaviors are. Humans are hard because we have a TON of extra social things going on (we talked about this in depth in my animal bah our class and I'd be happy to discuss it if you want) so let's talk about horses.

What do male horses do in the wild? They attempt to gather up a harem and sire offspring, all the while protecting their herd from outside threats, to the point that they often chase their own offspring off at a certain point of development. Even though we humanize our characters a lot, you can definitely pull some protective, maybe jealous, possessive instincts out of this that can be a driving force - even if the character isn't necessarily that "personality." For example, maybe your character gets really grouchy when in a group with multiple males and one female, but he doesn't know why. Maybe he feel protective of her, especially if she is his mate. And then, as said above, I think writing this into action - how these emotions DRIVE and action based on INSTINCT is possibly the best explanation that I could think of as to how this might work.

Volterra the Indomitable Posts: 785
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This thread is a really interesting one for me, because most of the posts describe Vol to a T xD He's the stereotypical man with the emotional range of a boulder, but to be honest I've always seen that as a flaw of mine as a writer. I suck at writing emotions, so I tend to play characters who are less emotional and more action-orientated. That's probably why I play males so much better than females, and any females I do play tend to be very masculine (hello Nyx and Oizys).

So reading this is all quite interesting, because it's making me wonder whether I'm actually doing the right thing by playing Vol as being a bit thick and naiive when it comes to other people's emotions. I won't lie, sometimes I write him with other characters and I feel so horrifically inferior with his feels compared to theirs. I feel like the person I'm writing with will be looking at my posts and going 'wtf, I bust my ass to be emotional in my post and I get THIS in response???' But I've tried to write it into his personality that he's just not very good when it comes to feeling things.

So yeah, I'd definitely say to cut down on emotions in order to write male charries. The downside of this is that it can count against you in spars - in fights, Vol defaults to angry mode, which doesn't make for much interesting reading. That's definitely a downside of a relatively numb-emotioned male charrie, although it could also be a flaw in my writing that I can't put across the anger in an emotional enough way.

I'm probably not the best person to give advice to you, Brit, because all my males tend to have hyper sexuality. HOWEVER, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, and doesn't necessarily mean they objectify mares! Look at Gaucho, for example. He had a lot of ladies, but I always got the impression he respected mares and didn't objectify them. My advice would be to default away from monogamy and accept that polygamy usually goes hand in hand with male characters, and that you can play it tastefully without having the charrie be a chauvinistic asshole. Like Blu said, it's all about the spreading of the seed. I personally cringe at mono males, but that's just me xD

If you definitely don't want the sexuality thing, though...maybe they're a diehard warrior who's sworn off women for the sake of duty? Or they could see mares more like sisters, and vow to protect them?

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Odd the doer of things Posts: 115
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Eh, I disagree with the sparring thing. Gaucho always did well in terms of emotion throughout a fight. In those situations, you're more writing their motivations and reactions to things, rather than a lengthy internal monologue about feelings. Even when your character is unfeeling, it's still your job as a writer to give that context.


For a long time he was almost monogamous - Sohalia and Ampere mostly happened at separate times, and then his flings with Aith/Neph/Nyx were caused by his brain melting :P But yes, he actually was fairly respectful of women, and his sexism I wrote was just an effect of the way he was raised - and sometimes he did have to reframe how he viewed the world.

But for Gaucho, I'd say his motivations were mostly around protection and bettering himself. When I wrote him checking out the ladies, he moreso litereally appreciated their bodies, rather than just being horny all the time. But he also did have emotional outlets that I played up a lot through his companions. And having relationships can help round out a character too - I wrote some insanely (I think?) Gaucho posts with Soh and Ampere.

Tl;dr : Masculine male characters can be emotionally complex, there's just usually a time and a place. Like with Cera, I feel like he has a huge emotional reaction to EVERYTHING, or at least you go into great depth to describe those things in most of your posts. For our generalized masculine male, usually you can leave those things unless it actually IS important and relevant to what's going on.

Merlin Posts: 15
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I think another way to kinda of put this into perspective too (even though I haven't played a lot of male characters in a while), is that their writing can be more simplistic. Like Odd was saying, obviously you can have an emotionally complex male, but the way you describe his emotions makes it different. When writing my feminine characters there's lots of flowery poetry and metaphors, where when it comes to my male roles I can be much more direct. Before December was at all emotional; her posts were more masculine in the sense that she is very to the point in her opinions, her emotions are blatantly there, but she doesn't dwell on them as a "typical" woman would do. IT gets so hard once you get really in depth into it, but honestly the best way I can describe it is being more simplistic in your phrasing when writing your character, and that in itself can speak volume.

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Astarot Posts: 81
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I find men so much easier to right than females xD You can basically get rid of emotions and run off instinct. It's so freeing!

Thranduil the Laurelin Posts: 598
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I find males easier to write as well, but not necessarily because mine are emotion free. Thranduil deep down is very emotionally troubled. Mostly because he doesn't know how to process them or deal with them in a proper way, but I don't chalk it up to a stereotypical maleness (or I try not to write it that way anyway). I think there's a lot of emotion in masculinity, just not emotion like crying. Masculinity CAN be portrayed as a protectiveness, a lust, a vanity, a pride, and so many more. When it comes down to it, I think that emotions like these can be placed onto any character really, regardless of gender. As much of a 'male' as Thran may seem I can write him as a female. Maybe not as easily, but I would think you could go 'that's still thran in the inside'. Because for me, there are descriptors deeper than gender that make him who he is.

ETA:: Not saying gender isn't a factor, but maybe its the descriptors you feel more drawn too versus a gender stereotype. IDK

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Brit Posts: 11
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Mare :: Other :: 15hh :: 19
Unfortunately when I try to write a male - even one in touch with emotions, or protective, etc - they end up "feminine". I'm coming to the point where I just want to give up on it. I appreciate all the advice but my characters are already viewed as notoriously emotional and I've lost a lot of my drive and hope for achieving this. But I hope the thread is helpful for anyone else who may read it in the future. Thank you all for your advice.

Albrecht Posts: 249
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I'm one of the few sticks in the mud around here that doesn't play multiple characters, so I understand wanting to try something different just for the sake of trying something different, but I personally find it impossible to write a character that I don't match up with well - and I don't mean matching up personality-wise so much as emotionally for that specific period of time in my life.

Some characters you can let time and experience change a little bit at a time, just like we do, and some characters are really inflexible to the point where you (or I, at least) have to stop playing them when those two emotional states don't line up or at least overlap anymore. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, and maybe that's a part of why it feels so difficult for you to write something other than your usual?

I'm one of those people that writes what comes to me and what feels good at the time, and I think that's what writing SHOULD be, since it's a hobby and supposed to be cathartic and fulfilling and all that. So my answer for finding males so difficult to write - to the point where it seems to be taxing and you're losing the drive to do it at all - would be to take a break. Find a character you feel really GOOD writing and just stay with them for an extended period of time. Get comfortable. Don't think that having a niche for writing makes you any less interesting or any less amazing a person and author. Let that niche take the stress and the annoyance and the disappointment away, and when you feel yourself changing a little bit from who you were yesterday, try again! You might have a completely different reaction.

I have to admit that I personally find males easier to write, so this entire comment may be supremely unhelpful and I apologize if it is. I'm very much not traditionally feminine, not in attitude, priorities, sexual preference, or career, so maybe that makes my advice kind of forfeit, but I hate to see people make what they love into a job. You don't have to prove yourself or your characters to anyone. You don't have to meet anyone else's criteria. They're for you. <3
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