Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Writers Tips - How boys can write girl-talk

Last Wednesday I reviewed On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels and gave an excerpt of her chapter on Writing Realistic Dialogue, or how girls can write boy-talk. This week I am including an excerpt on how boys can write girl-talk.  

Women tend to sympathize and share experiences.

From On Writing Romance - How To Craft A Novel That Sells by Leigh Michaels. In Chapter Twelve - Writing Dialogue and Introspection, subheading Gender-Specific Dialogue, Ms. Michaels has advice for men writing heroines' dialogue.

Writing a character of the opposite gender can be difficult, but if you check it against this list, your dialogue will be more convincing.

Check for advice. Women tend to sympathize and share experiences rather than give advice. Can you add empathy to your character's reactions and have her talk about similar things that happened to her, rather than tell someone what he should do? 
Check for bragging. Women tend to talk about their accomplishments and themselves in a self-deprecating fashion rather than a boastful one. Can you rephrase her comment in order to make them laugh at herself?   
Check for aggressiveness. Women tend to be indirect and manipulative; even an assertive woman usually considers the effect her statement is likely to have before she makes it. Can you add questions to her dialogue, or add approval-seeking comments and suggestions that masquerade as questions?

There are three more checks to make, too.

Check for details. Women notice styles; they know what colors go together (and which don't)... Check for emotions. Women tend to bubble over with emotion, with the exception that they're generally hesitant to express anger... Check for obliviousness. Womennotice and interpret facial expressions and body language, and they maintain eye contact.

More detail in the book, and the following from last week hold true for men writing women, too.

To write realistic dialogue, Ms. Michaels suggests: Eavesdrop (politely) as real people talk. Can you guess their relationship? Write dialogue and check it against the checklist. Read your dialogue aloud. Listen to someone else read your dialogue aloud.

This chapter (and the book) is chock full of great writing advice. And don't fret guys, there's advice for men writing women's dialogue. I'll post those tips next Wednesday.

I have several flags marking places to return to to study more in my copy of this book.

On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels

I also reviewed the chapter on Maintaining Tension. I don't usually review the same book more than but I found last Wednesday's tip left such an impression on me that I wanted to share it, and I didn't want to leave the guys out so I had to post this week's tip, too.

My writing craft bookshelf.


  1. I completely agree about reading dialogue aloud (I do that with prose too). It's much easier to catch something that doesn't sound believable when you hear it spoken. Thanks for sharing, Christy!

  2. One of the last things I do before sending my ms to my final proof reader is to have the computer read aloud to me while I read the hard copy. The voice is pretty good, except he tends to rush into the next paragraph.