Last week, while conversing with my wife about an appropriate housewarming gift for a single woman in her mid-twenties buying her first home, I had an epiphany: I don’t remotely think like a woman. Therefore, I need to expend significant research and call on female beta-readers when creating female characters. If not, my stories won’t appeal or be convincing to female readers.
I’ll make this topic hit home with some real life examples. Let’s get inside a man’s head for a moment—mine: What does one get someone who’s just purchased their first home?
- Five-Gallon (Nineteen-Liter) Bucket
This is a home essential for a new homeowner. It’ll be used often for washing windows, floors, the car; used in the garden for pulling weeds from the flower beds, collecting twigs before mowing the lawn; a must-have for pulling up the old carpet and collecting hundreds of carpet pad staples.
- Package of Light Bulbs
Let’s face it—the world has changed from inexpensive incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs that cost $9 USD ($6 GBP) each. No doubt the previous homeowner packed up all eight from the basement’s hanging fixtures, and the ones a new homeowner left in the end-table lamps are now broken as a result of the move.
- Flannel-Lined Leather Work Gloves
With a new home, the homeowner will wear them to pull up the old carpet, carry out debris to the curb on trash day, and trim the shrubbery on the new property.
In a man’s mind, these are appropriate housewarming gifts because they’re practical. Much thought, consideration, and experience have gone into the selection of these products. However according to women, namely my wife, these are wildly inappropriate housewarming gifts. Instead, one should consider:
- Scented Candle
A fine and necessary method to remove odors left behind from the previous homeowners and their pets. In springtime, select a pale green or lavender-colored candle to reminisce of a dew-laden fragrant meadow, yet in autumn a burgundy or maple-colored candle is the more appropriate choice.
- Non-Scented Candle
Viewed equally important to its cousin the scented candle, but used instead for practical lighting, particularly areas of the home that currently lack lamps or bulbs (eg, the basement when doing one’s first load of laundry because the previous homeowner removed all eight of the costly $9 USD / $6 GBP compact fluorescent light bulbs).
- Decorative Candle Holder
Because it’s a no-no to simply place your scented or non-scented candle on an unprotected surface. Not only will this help better disperse mood lighting to any occasion via the subtle six-inch raised elevation, it also serves as a stunning accent piece during daytime.
Having had a week to compare and contrast the differences in thought between men and women simply in the selection of a housewarming gift, I realize that the volume of effort and research needed to write convincing female characters varies, and a few different tips and suggestions can be applied.
Is your female character a lead or a supporting character? Female readers may reject your entire work if the lead female character doesn’t think and behave like a typical female. For a supporting character, female readers may be more forgiving, but maybe not.
What’s the point of view (POV) of your story? Will you be writing only a woman’s dialog, or will you need to go deeper into a woman’s psyche in order to write the triple-threat: dialog, thoughts, and emotions.
Don’t be afraid to conduct interviews with women you know on how they would think and behave in certain circumstances you’ll be placing your female character. Also, enlist female beta-readers during your editing cycle.
If your female character will be speaking, thinking, or reminiscing about love or sex—well, you’re on your own.