Guest Post: Showing Emotion: Boys vs. Girls

It is my pleasure to bring you this guest post by the ever interesting and informative, Susan Kaye Quinn, who today celebrates the release of her latest novel, Closed Hearts,  the 2nd book in the Mindjack series. Congrats, Susan!

 By Susan Kaye Quinn

I've talked before about Thinking vs. Feeling, and Sherrie brought up an excellent point: boy characters think/feel differently than girl characters.
First, let's not stereotype: boys certainly have feelings just as much as girls do, and your character should be true to who THEY are more than what their gender is. But, in general, what boys do with feelings can be quite different from girls, and accurately portraying that in words on a page is the key to a realistic character.
Here's a girl thinking (Ever in Evermore, contemplating a small lie to her friends): They're making such a big deal I'm thinking it's my only way out. Only I can't. Not to them. Haven and Miles are my best friends. My only friends. And I feel like I'm keeping enough secrets already.
Here's a boy thinking (Cassel in White Cat, having just nearly fallen off the roof): I laugh with relief, even though I am shaking so badly that climbing is out of the question. Cold makes my fingers numb. The adrenaline rush makes my brain sing.
Here's a girl thinking like a boy (Katniss in Hunger Games, ruminating about how she didn't kill Buttercup the cat, because of her beloved sister Prim): But Prim begged so hard, cried even, I had to let him stay. It turned out okay...Sometimes when I clean a kill, I feed Buttercup the entrails. He has stopped hissing at me. Entrails. No hissing. This is the closest we will ever come to love.
Girl-like characters tend to think and react in terms of relationships: they ponder (sometimes a lot); they agonize; they contemplate feelings: theirs and other people's.
Boy-like characters think more in terms of action, cause and effect, connecting the emotion to the outcome, rather than how they feel about it.
These are generalizations, of course. Your Character May Vary. But here's a back-to-back example of how I would write a scene from a girl POV and a boy POV.
Boy: I sprinted down the street, dodging early morning sprinklers. I was going to be late. Again. Mr. Spencer was sure to give me a tardy and another note with a fake signature wouldn't cut it this time. Spencer would kick me out of Trill Academy for sure. I slowed my pace. No sense in hurrying to my doom. I kicked a hose draped across the sidewalk and imagined it was Spencer.
Girl: I sprinted down the street, narrowly keeping out of the sprinkler. If I was late this time, Mr. Spencer would have my head. He's hated me ever since I pointed out his error that time in Geometry. I clenched my fists. It wasn't fair. I worked so hard to get in, and Spencer would kick me out of Trill with the slightest excuse. I stumbled over a hose draped across the sidewalk and came to a stop. I wouldn't give Spencer the pleasure of seeing me come in all flustered and red faced. I straightened my shirt and leisurely strolled on.
Of course, this scene would play differently for different characters with different backgrounds, and I think the most important thing is to stay true to your character.
Do you write boy or girl POV's? Do you incorporate emotions differently for each?

Closed Hearts (Mindjack #2) $2.99 at AmazonBarnes and Noble (ebook and print)
When you control minds, only your heart can be used against you.
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA novel Open Minds, Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy, which is available on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iTunes. The sequel Closed Hearts has just been released. Susan's business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist," but she mostly plays on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.
Mind GamesOpen MindsClosed HeartsIn His EyesLife, Liberty, and PursuitFull Speed Ahead

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Kyra Lennon said...

Ha, this is a post I needed today! Great tips - I am just about to embark on my first boy POV book and this helped a lot!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@Kyra I love writing boy POV! Even though the Mindjack series is from a girl POV, the short stories that go with it are going to be mostly boy POV. Good luck with your book!

@Nicki Thanks for hosting!!

Tara Tyler said...

loved that comparison! so true! and Susan is so fast! it seems like open minds just came out!

Lynn Proctor said...

great points! saying hi from the az challenge!

Clarissa Draper said...

I switch POV in my mysteries and so I have to constantly think how they would talk. Great examples.

Suze said...

One of the best books I have ever read from an adolescent male's perspective is, 'The Cardturner,' by Louis Sachar. That book hummed with authenticity and actually was written by a 'boy.'

For any woman wanting to capture the essence of male thinking patterns in narrative, I really can't recommend it enough.

Great topic for a post!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Great rec, Suze! I will add it to my reference list!

Nicki Elson said...

Hey everyone! Susan always has the most interesting topics and great ways of making her point, doesn't she?

When writing from a limited or first person POV, I almost always stick to the woman's mind BUT that doesn't mean I can ignore the way boys think---have to keep their reactions in mind for the story to ring true, right? So thank you, thank you for this post, Susan, and the book rec, Suze. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Well, Susan, it must be fate. I've come across your posts twice today. This one is excellent.

I write adult, not YA, but I write in both male and female POV. Men and women think differently, too :)

Hi Nicki!

DL Hammons said...

Let me politely disagree. I'm a guy and I have to say...we do not have as many feelings as girls! :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@DL LOL! I'll trust you on that. :)

Heather Murphy said...

Interesting post on POV.
I really want to read this series also! I think I would rather read minds than jack them :)

Tony Van Helsing said...

I thought males are supposed to think about sex every six seconds or something.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Women do the same thing, only it's sex/love alternating with thoughts of chocolate. :)

Michael Pierce said...

Great things to remember! I have my wife read most of what I write, but it's especially helpful when I'm writing from a girl's POV.

Rachel Morgan said...

So far I've only written from a girl's POV, but I'm planning on doing some boy POV soon, so this was a great post to read!