November 29 – December 5: “Who struggles more to write across gender lines, male or female authors?”

Before a reader can care about what happens to the characters in a thriller, the characters have to ring true. Is it difficult to write across gender lines? Join ITW members LJ Sellers, Teresa Burrell, Allison Leotta, David Morrell, DP Lyle, Daryl Wood Gerber and Shane Gericke for a thought-provoking Roundtable discussion.

L.J. Sellers is an award-winning journalist and the author of the Detective Jackson mystery/suspense series. The Sex Club, Secrets to Die For, and Thrilled to Death have been highly praised by Mystery Scene and Spinetingler magazines. Her fourth Jackson story, Passions of the Dead, will be released soon. L.J. also has two standalone thrillers, The Baby Thief and The Suicide Effect. When not plotting murders, L.J. enjoys standup comedy, cycling, social networking, mystery conferences, and editing fiction.

Teresa Burrell has dedicated her life to helping children and their families in both the courtroom and the classroom. As an attorney in San Diego, Burrell maintained a private law practice for twelve years, which specialized in domestic, criminal, and civil cases. Her work in juvenile court focused on representing abused minors and juvenile delinquents. Burrell has received several awards and special recognition from the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program for her countless hours of pro bono work with children and their families.  Burrell has also enjoyed a satisfying career as a teacher. She has taught children of all ages with diverse backgrounds and special needs. After creating an after-school program that kept kids off the street, she received a community service award.  Now in semi-retirement in California, Burrell continues to educate groups about social issues impacting children and write novels, many of which are inspired by actual legal cases.

Allison Leotta is a federal sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington, D.C.   She has been a federal prosecutor for ten years.  Like her heroine, Allison started out in the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting misdemeanor domestic violence cases.  She now handles the most serious sex crimes in D.C.  Allison is a graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School.  She lives with her husband (who is also a federal prosecutor) and their two sons in Takoma Park, Maryland.  “”Law of Attraction”” is her first novel.

David Morrell is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight books, including his award-winning Creepers and Scavenger. “The mild-mannered professor with the bloody-minded visions,” as one reviewer called him, Morrell is the author of thirty-two books, including such high-action thrillers as The Naked Edge, Creepers, and The Spy Who Came for Christmas (set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives). Always interested in different ways to tell a story, he wrote the six-part comic-book series, Captain America: The Chosen. His writing book, The Successful Novelist, analyzes what he learned during his four decades as an author. Morrell is a co-founder of the International Thriller Writers organization. Morrell is a three-time recipient of the distinguished Bram Stoker Award. Comic-Con International honored him with its Inkpot Award for his lifetime contributions to popular culture. The International Thriller Writers organization gave him its prestigious ThrillerMaster Award. With eighteen million copies of his work in print, his work has been translated into twenty-six languages.

D.P. Lyle MD is the Macavity Award winning and Edgar® Award nominated author of the non-fiction books, MURDER & MAYHEM, FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES, FORENSICS & FICTION, and HOWDUNNIT: FORENSICS as well as the thrillers, DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, DOUBLE BLIND, and STRESS FRACTURE, the first in his new Dub Walker Series. His essay on Jules Verne’s THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND appears in THRILLERS: 100 MUST READS. His next Dub Walker novel, HOT LIGHTS, COLD STEEL, and the first of his Royal Pains tie-in novels, ROYAL PAINS: FIRST, DO NO HARM, will be released June, 2011. He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, and The Glades.

Daryl Wood Gerber writes the Cheese Shop Mystery series as Avery Aames. The first of thee books, The Long Quiche Goodbye, published in July 2010. The series is set in idyllic Holmes County, Ohio, and features Charlotte Bessette, a feisty cheese shop owner with a colorful extended family. Daryl has also had short stories published and she created the format for the successful TV series Out of this World that ran for four years in first-run syndication. Daryl podcasts some of her suspense/thriller work on her website. Prior to writing, Daryl was an actress in Los Angeles. A fun tidbit for mystery buffs: she co-starred on the popular series, Murder, She Wrote and Matlock. Daryl graduated from Stanford University. She enjoys golfing, swimming, photography, gardening, gourmet cooking, and has been known to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

National bestselling novelist Shane Gericke (pronounced YER-key) launched his writing career in high school as a $30-a-month sportswriter. He liked it so much he never looked back. He spent the next 25 years as a newspaper editor, most notably at the Chicago Sun-Times. He then turned to thrillers, with Torn Apart, Blown Away and Cut to the Bone quickly establishing him as one of our foremost masters of suspense. His work appears in translation around the world. Chairman of the international book festival ThrillerFest and a founding member of International Thriller Writers, Shane lives in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois.

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36 Comments
  1. I can’t wait to follow this discussion as it develops. We have another great panel, and I still can’t believe we’re getting all this expert advice for free!

    1. From the women, I’d like to know what drives you nuts about female characters as portrayed by male writers? What are some red flags that make you think a male writer doesn’t know what he’s doing when it comes to creating female characters? Do you have any pet peeves in relation to the way men write about women? Any advice for male writers? My protagonist and several supporting characters are female, and I’m male, so I’d really love to know what you think.

    2. From the men, I’d like to know if you find it more difficult to write female characters than male characters. If so, why? What are some lessons you’ve learned in relation to creating female characters?

    I think I’m a little paranoid about character development in general, but even more so when it comes to female characters. Any advice or comments will be greatly appreciated.

  2. I’m not sure that any differences in writing across gender lines are truly gender specific but are more likely author specific, and perhaps genre specific. I’m not sure that male authors are any more or less equipped to write about women than men and vice versa. I think that some authors are better able to cross gender lines than others so to me that’s the real focus of the question.

    My Samantha Cody series has a female protagonist. Sam is a cop and a professional boxer. You do not want to mess with her. My Dub Walker series has a male protagonist but his ex-wife and on again off again love interest Claire McBride is also someone you should not take lightly. An investigative reporter who can do with her tongue what Sam can do with her fists. I like strong tough female characters.

    I found each of these characters fun and easy to write. But I deal more with human issues in my stories than I do with gender issues. That’s probably why I see no difference in writing male and female characters. A good character is a good character regardless of gender, race, religion, etc.

    I mentioned genre specific above. I think that in thrillers the issues are more often broadly human than gender specific–will the protagonist catch the bad guys, or save a loved one or himself/herself, or perhaps even save the planet? Male and female protagonist fit this formula equally well.

    Perhaps the literary writers out there can weigh in on this, but to me literary writing might be more gender specific. These stories more often deal with deeper, internal issues so that author gender differences are likely to be the greatest. I would think crossing gender lines in these stories would be more difficult. In thrillers with big stories and big stakes the good guys or girls are the same—at least in the broadest sense and the story context.

    1. Great points, Dr. Lyle.

      By the way, you’re one of my favorite ThrillerFest instructors (I bought the audio lectures, which I highly recommend to anyone who couldn’t make it to the conference).

  3. Hi, all. I thought I was supposed to post my opening thoughts in a separate post, but I don’t see a spot for that, so I’ll just post them here. [Hope that’s okay]

    The question: Who struggles more to write across gender lines, male or female authors?

    First off, as a female with a male name, I find it odd that some men feel the need to change their names to a female name to write a female protagonist. On the other hand, with my name, if I write about a male protagonist, no one will question that I’m a guy writing about a guy. Okay, some might. Yes, I get the question all the time, where’s my other brother Daryl? And yes, I’ve been told I don’t look like a guy. I was put into an all boy gym class in high school, and the boys begged me to stay. Go figure.

    But back on topic, who struggles more to cross gender lines? I think it depends on the author and the author’s style.

    Ken Follett says that when he wrote Eye of the Needle and changed his protagonist to a female, it was a groundbreaking decision that changed the tide of women as protagonists in a thriller genre.

    Lisa Gardner has come up with a terrific character in her novel, Alone (with Bobby Dodge, Massachusetts police sniper).

    Agatha Christie created an iconic figure in Hercule Poirot.

    And the list continues.

    You will often hear “write what you know.” But does that mean that men should only write men and women, women? No! Absolutely not. However, it might be difficult for men to get inside the head of a female and vice versa. The dialogue doesn’t always ring true. The actions don’t always ring true. It takes work. It takes observation. It takes putting your pages past a female reader and a male reader to see if anything feels “off” to that reader. Men don’t always talk gruffly. Women don’t always cry. 🙂 Writing stereotypes has got to go. Can a man cook? You bet. Like a chef? Not always. Can a woman kickbox the socks off a man? Yes, sometimes, not always.

    In the stand-alone thrillers that I write, I have written both female and male protagonists, in first person POV and in multiple third person POVs. I enjoy writing both. I like tough but complex people. I like save the world scenarios as much as I like save the family/individual. Each requires a different protagonist with a different set of demons and strengths. Side note: * I also write under the pseudonym Avery Aames. As Avery, I write A Cheese Shop Mystery series. It’s a first person POV female protagonist. I like to consider the series a “delicate but deadly” mystery. You can check that out at http://www.averyaames.com

    So…a couple of questions for our participants: Do you believe you can write cross gender effectively? What research have you done for your characters? What opposition have you encountered from your agent and your publisher if you’ve chosen to write cross gender? Which authors do you read to inspire you?

    Good writing to all!

    Daryl (aka Avery)

    1. “So…a couple of questions for our participants: Do you believe you can write cross gender effectively? What research have you done for your characters?”

      As the only non-published, relatively new novel-writer commenting so far, I’ll climb out on a limb and say that I think I’m writing women effectively. I base my answer on feedback I’ve gotten from females in writing workshops, a female writing instructor, and, yes – women I know from everyday life.

      However, I think the only reason I can answer “yes” to that question goes to your second point (research), and to Allision’s comment about caring about other people.

      I probably spent way too much time researching subjects, issues, and people I either already knew or knew about. But, I did not want to miss anything that I thought would be relevant or important, and I didn’t want to be guilty of perpetuating a negative stereotype.

      To Allison’s point, I care about my female characters because they are based on real people whom I care/cared a great deal about, and who were engaged in, as a directive I once read during the throes of a military coup described them, “significant emotional events” that really happened. Caring about my characters and their story is the part that keeps me writing when I start thinking I’d just as soon be going door-to-door in Waziristan, handing out Christmas cards to al-Qaeda.

      As for which authors inspire/d me . . . there are many, but since one of them is participating here this week, I’ll take this opportunity to say “Thank you, David Morrell,” by admitting that when I first sat down to write a novel (which I had a very matter-of-fact “this will be easy” attitude about), I had extremely marked-up copies of THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE, THE FRATERNITY OF THE STONE, THE FIFTH PROFESSION, THE LEAGUE OF NIGHT AND FOG, etc. sitting on the table beside my computer.

      If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention RAMBO . . . that’s a long story, but it has to do with not taking the sacred lightly. 😉

      Thanks for the great questions and comments, Daryl.

  4. Thing I like about writing my female characters is I get to ask all kinds of women, “What kind of underwear do you prefer?”

    Even cops.

    Well, one cop, anyway. I was creating patrol officer Emily Thompson for my cops-vs.-psychos crime series–latest of which is TORN APART–and needed readers to see her getting dressed in the morning, from shower stall to body armor. So, I asked a longtime cop friend to lunch, and asked if she’d be so kind as to tell me about her underwear. She didn’t shoot me.

    I love research.

    Well, she told me, and the answer was surprising and intriguing: thong underwear. Followed by a heavy-duty sports bra–running after bad guys in something flimsy just plain hurts–Under Armour sweat-wicking T-shirt, body armor that matched the navy blue of the uniform, uniform pants and shirt, socks, boots, knife with sheath for boot, holster with small revolver for ankle, trouser belt, gunbelt with 20-odd pounds of equipment including gun, four spare ammo magazines, handcuffs, plastic gloves for searching suspects, radio, cellphone and collapsable baton; and pockets full of knives, pens, breath mints and other stuff.

    Naturally, all I wanted to know about the thong underwear. Guys, right? But she was a good sports, and her answer was . . .

    Oh, wait, I should say I find it easy to write female characters. But I was a newspaper reporter and editor for many years, and learned to be observant, for that is the essence of reporting: observing and remembering all sorts of odd details. I knew women button their shirts the opposite way from men. Women’s hips stick out more than men’s, meaning pants and belts need to be cut differently from men’s or they’ll rub the hips raw. A female action hero is not just a macho/cursing/belching/hard-drinking guy wearing a dress; they approach things differently. Stuff like that. Those are the details that can trip you up when fleshing out a female character, so I try my best to get them right.

    That said, I think most women authors write men better than most men authors write women. Why? Because women are much more socially aware then men. They’re the social gatekeepers of our society, and as a result, they’ve studied both genders with keen eyes. Plus, they raise our children, and know them–boy and girl alike–like the backs of their hands.

    So, when they write men, they already know the stuff that we male writers have to learn.

    Oh, you probably wanted to know my friend’s answer to the thong underwear question, right? Thought so.

    Stick around. I’ll answer it sometime this week.

    And welcome to our virtual panel discussion. Delighted to see you all here today.

  5. Each author has different skills. Some men write well about women (Henry James), and some women write well about men (Patricia Highsmith). But if I needed to choose a pseudonym, in today’s market, I would undergo an imaginary sex-change operation and acquire a female name (unless my new book was about machine guns). An alternate persona opens the imagination and encourages fictional exploration in ways that might not have been possible before.

  6. A quick experiment will reveal who writes better across gender lines.

    First, I’ll answer the question as if I were a man: Men are much better at writing across gender lines. I say that with confidence, because, as a man, I claim to be good at everything and I always speak with confidence.

    Now I’ll try that as a woman: I’m not really sure how to answer who writes better across gender lines. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings! Women are probably better at channeling men, because we’ve learned to operate in a world dominated by men. On the other hand, some men have suppressed their feminine sides, so writing may let them express what they have bottled up.

    In all seriousness, I think the best character writers are folks who care about other people – whatever their gender. In my debut legal thriller, LAW OF ATTRACTION, the protagonist is a female D.C. sex-crimes and domestic-violence prosecutor, not really a stretch for me, since I’m a female D.C. sex-crimes and domestic-violence prosecutor. I know every detail of that world, from which bathroom stall she’d choose on the third floor of D.C. Superior Court (there’s only one with a working lock) to how it feels when a victim unexpectedly lies on the witness stand to protect her abuser (you worry about what’s going to happen the next time he gets angry — what if, next time, he kills her?).

    But the majority of cops, attorneys, and criminals are men, and so are many of the characters in my book. I’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with these men, or fought against them in court, or put them in jail. I was able to write these characters because after all these years, I know these guys.

    Oh, and because of my inherent female intuition.

  7. Writing anything you haven’t experienced is more difficult than writing something you have, so for that reason I think it’s just as much a struggle for one as it is the other. That said, we have all experienced events with members of the opposite sex and we’ve seen their reaction to situations, painful or rewarding. And therefore, we can write about them and they are authentic and believable. The real issue is the depth, the gut feelings, the pain that results from any given situation. If it’s a piece that needs that kind of soul searching beyond what we feel as humans and into a realm where our gender might effect our reaction, then it is a greater struggle. But this is no different than writing about other things we have only experienced second hand, such as child birth if you’ve never had a baby, or advocating for an innocent client if you’re not a lawyer, or rollerblading on the boardwalk if you’ve never had a pair of skates on. So, what do you do? I do several things. First of all, I research. Yes, I even research gender reactions. I write the piece and then get feedback from my male friends, all the time keeping in mind that what any individual male might do or say isn’t necessarily what the readers will believe. And secondly, I don’t write the depth that I would when I’ve had the personal experience. I’ve seen that with other authors as well. And that’s okay. Not everything has to be peeled back to the core.

    I was concerned when my book was first published that men may not like it as well as women. My experience has been two-fold. I have discovered that more men won’t read a book written by women than the other way around. And secondly, I have received some of my most glowing reviews from my male readers. Perhaps that’s because as my friend Bob always says, “…but you think like a man.” He thinks it’s a compliment…go figure.

  8. Teresa, you made a good point. It is a known fact that women will read a male author’s work, but men don’t particularly like to read a female author’s work. Sad state of affairs, if you ask me. Because there are some absolutely fabulous works by women that men, even men who thrive on action and thrillers, would adore.

    Men…why is that?

    ~Daryl

  9. Wimmen. Can’t live with ’em, can’t kill ’em 🙂

    Can’t answer that one, Daryl. I like books written by women. Gayle Lynds is a god(dess), along with Tess Gerritsen, Alex Kava, Erica Spindler, Jodi Picault, and the fine folks writing on this blog today.

    And Allison’s comment, “The best character writers are folks who care about other people – whatever their gender,” is OH so true.

  10. Okay, I finally got a chance to read other folks’ posts this morning (last night, I was typing with one hand while holding my teething, crying toddler with the other).

    Shane, I laughed out loud at your post, and I’m determined to read your entire cops-vs-psychos series based on it. Should I start with the first book, or can I launch right into TORN APART?

    David, I’m intrigued by your comment that if you were choosing a pen name today, you’d use a female one. Why is that?

  11. Shane and Allison, not even a question that the “best character writers are folks who care about other people – whatever their gender”.

    Question – do you think specific characters must be male vs. female? Can you imagine Hercule Poirot, James Bond, or the Jackal as a woman? Can you imagine Kinsey Milhone as a man? [The little black dress would have to go.]

    What switches do you think we could do as writers and get away with? In today’s market, would this make a difference to the publisher? Would the gender of the author make a difference?

    Just throwing questions out that are striking me through the day.
    ~Daryl aka Avery

  12. Bless you for wanting to read my series, Allison! You can jump right in with the new one, then follow up with Nos. 1 and 2 (in that order) for more back story on my cop hero, Emily Thompson, and her SWAT commander best friend, Annie Bates. And yes, Emily wears thong underwear, though she feels like she’s being flossed 🙂

    Interesting question, Daryl. “Nikita” is already a great female James Bond. Can’t imagine Kinsey as anything but female, but the Jackal could have been either male or female. Females actually make terrific spies, assassins and killers, both in real life and fiction. They blend in far more easily than your standard-issue muscled male soldier with high-and-tight haircut and biceps o’steel, allowing them to reach the target without setting off alarms. Plus, most of male society considers females to be weak and helpless. It’s not true in the least, but it gives determined female killers a great advantage in that they’re vastly underestimated.

    1. Great point, Shane, and to add to it (because it’s a fascinating subject):

      “They blend in far more easily than your standard-issue muscled male soldier with high-and-tight haircut and biceps o’steel, allowing them to reach the target without setting off alarms.”

      The issue of non-standard-issue male soldiers (one or more of whom could be her accomplices, enablers, etc.) aside . . . whether a certain female blends in or not is subject to how she looks and acts, and how that fits into the context of the mission. How will her appearance and behavior relate to the specific target, obstacles, defense, environment, etc.? It may be the fact that she DOESN’T blend in that enables a successful breach. It all depends on what the target analysis reveals about the “gates” and the “gatekeepers.”

      Thanks for a great discussion.

      1. P.S. I’ve already decided that if I can make it to the next ThrillerFest, you’re going to be one of the people I look for. I can only imagine what you come up with and are willing to say in a non-public environment. 🙂

  13. Oh, and I would pay to see David wearing a dress as he writes his female protag. He’d probably make it out of titanium, though, with grenade ports for shooting back …

  14. My gut instinct tells me that it’s harder for men to write from a female POV than for women to write male characters. As the male comedians all say: Guys are simple. 🙂

    I write a series with a male homicide detective as the protagonist, and it’s not a big struggle for me. I ended up with a male protagonist inadvertently. The first story needed two main characters: a Planned Parenthood nurse and homicide detective. The nurse had to be female, so I made the cop male for balance. I wasn’t sure it would turn out to be a series, but going forward, the homicide detective had to be the main character. (I’m not writing cozies. )

    I’m glad it worked out that. I like writing from the male POV. It gives me distance from my character and allows me to let him make mistakes. It would be harder for me to let a female protag screw up. And the truth is, I love reading series with male detectives. I believe my male protag gives me a wider audience.

    As for research, I’ve interviewed several male homicide detectives, a male crime scene technician, a male medical examiner, and a male SWAT leader. I didn’t chose to interview all men; they just happen to work in those fields. But as info, the sergeant who supervises the violent crimes detectives here in Eugene is female, and I’ve picked her brain too.

  15. Hi – I write mystery novels that morph into thrillers and back (a whole different issue). I think this topic on writing across gender lines is terrific.

    So far I haven’t seen any discussion of the different ways in which men and women handle conflict. I think that when some male authors (I don’t want to generalize here!) create female protagonists they enjoy dressing them in sexy attire but when it comes to their reactions to confrontation these women act like men. A case in point is Le Femme Nikita (yes I know this was a film but the screenplay was written by a man) – she’s compassionate, yes – but inevitably ends up strafing her adversaries with a machine gun or blowing them up.

    My point of view on this is informed by growing up in a violent neighborhood in the SE Bronx and being taught that if this 10 year old girl was going to survie she needed to be smarter than the crazies out there looking for blood. I had to learn how to defuse conflict rather than escalate it. Without this skill I would not have been able to talk an angry schizophrenic out of throwing me onto the subway tracks by assuming the role of his mother and scolding him into submission – I would not have been able to pretend to lose a fight while picking just the right moment to roll my out of control opponent under a parked car and pin her there.

    I’d like to hear what others think about this. Do women deal differently with conflict than men?

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

    Thanks,
    Joyce

  16. This discussion reminds me of a funny line from a Jack Nicholson movie.

    In “As Good As It Gets,” Nicholson plays a grumpy bestselling author. A gushing fan asks him, “How do you write women so well?” Nicholson replies, “I think of a man, then I take away reason and accountability.”

  17. Joyce, I think you’re right about men and women handling conflict differently, in a general way, with females more inclined to avoid or mitigate it. Yet for those of us writing about law enforcement personnel, the character needs to respond according to training more so than gender. Of course, their internal dialogue can be quite different.

    1. Well put. To me the key issue, whether the conflict is resolved by negotiation or armed conflict, the protagonist must do so heroically. Verbal jousts can be just as aggressive as a fist fight–often more so. The final courtroom scene in A Few Good Men was basically armed conflict with words. Well written, well acted. Could the Cruise character have been played by a woman? Yes and in fact it might have been even better. A female prosecutor locking horns with a decorated General would have been great.

  18. LJ, we’re not simple at all. It takes tremendous effort and coordination to scratch, belch and fart at the same time …

    DP is absolutely right—no matter how the protag resolves the conflict, it must be heroic, not meek and submissive. But that can take a whole range of options, from talking calmly to faking losing a fight to Jack Nicholson-like verbal electricity to open warfare. Lots of wake to bake a heroic cake.

    That said, sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than letting loose with a few missiles and machine guns.

    Teresa, you’ll have to share with the class here the results of your research. But I suspect you won’t find too many thongs in Guy World. None that we would admit too, anyway 🙂

  19. It’s interesting, but in my current mystery, I’ve been told that I have many “thriller” moments, probably because of my love of thrillers. I cut to the chase. I stop adding as much background and description. I have my female protagonist thinking how she’ll get through the situation, planning, plotting. She’s not skilled in defense moves. She doesn’t wield a gun, so she has only her wits to protect her. A cozy-thriller or a thrillzy, as Julie Hyzy likes to say about her own work.

    I remember back in college when I went on a hitchhiking tour of Ireland by myself how worried all the guys at school were. Would I survive? Would I be able to fend off lechers, etc? I have a few close calls, and I wouldn’t suggest any girl do what I did, but it was one of the best lessons for me on how to survive with my wits. I ran, I dodged, I hid. I did a number of things that didn’t get me one iota closer to seeing the inside of a darned castle! 🙂 But I did kiss the Blarney Stone.

    Daryl

  20. So it seems it comes back around to “what we’ve experienced” more than our “gender.” Granted our gender often keeps us from having some of those experiences, but some of us do it anyway. Daryl, I also hitchhiked around Europe while in college. I spent three months traveling from country to country. Everyone back home was worried about me, and rightfully so. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. The experiences I had, the feelings, along with everything else I’ve done in life go into my writing. It’s just easier to write when you’ve been there, but not impossible to write if you haven’t.

    As far as how we resolve conflict. I’m a woman but I’m also a lawyer, so I don’t argue unless I get paid for it. My protag does the same. Negotiation is her strong point but she often finds herself in a situation where she has to dodge, duck, and fight back.

    And, I too, have kissed the blarney stone…so maybe this is all blarney.

  21. I’m glad the question I raised about how women deal with conflict generated so many excellent comments – and I loved the examples that were provided to support them. No wonder Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, and justice, was the favorite child of Zeus.
    Thanks!
    Joyce

  22. This is an excellent question. As an aspiring thriller writer I have not thought about that question until, now. As I think about the question I sometimes find it more difficult to write about female characters rather than male characters. The mind set of a female is different from that of a male, and it takes a little more time to psych myself up when I’m writing in the point of view of a female character. And, sometimes to avoid writer’s block I write a scene of a female character without getting into her mind until I go back through the scence a second or third time.

  23. My husband is reading a Brad Thor book about a female Delta force. He said they acted like women, using feminine wiles to infiltrate, then became “guys,” doing strictly business. He said they became women again when they found body remains frozen in rock and showed their horror. A guy would be appalled, as well, he said, but Brad’s normal protag would have proceeded with the mission. The women needed to get out of there. My question: did Brad go with a caricature? I have not read the book, but it sounds like it. Also, I read about a Delta force women’s team from Silhouette Bombshell 3 years ago. Well written, but the line couldn’t survive because women wouldn’t buy the books. Wrong publisher or wrong theme fir women readers? BTW, I love James Bond, Jason Boune, and Jack Reacher, so no bias here. 😉

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