Based on the questions I get I know that a lot of non-male writers struggle with developing and writing male characters. There’s no straight-forward guide to writing a male character, but I can offer some insight based on what I read.
I’ve noticed that a lot of male characters, no matter who wrote them, tend to have a lack of insecurities. More accurate would be to say that lots of male characters have a lack of insecurities that are not related to a physical skill or leadership, especially when these male characters have a major role in the story.
If you have trouble developing your male characters, give them insecurities beyond not being able to fulfill their prophecy or not being able to hit a home run.
As with all characters, insecurities should impact your character’s behavior, thoughts, and decisions. Integrate their securities into their being. If your character doesn’t like the way they look or if they don’t like their body, their body language should reflect that when talking to people (such as avoiding eye contact, looking down, crossing their arms, etc.). Some insecurities will have greater impacts than others. They might even create conflict for your character or prevent them from resolving an issue.
When it comes to male characters it’s important to show that males can have certain insecurities without being “less male” because of it. More than a few times have I had writers ask if a certain trait is unrealistic for a male character because it’s “unmanly”. So if you ever think a certain trait or insecurity is “inaccurate” for a male character, ignore that feeling and write it.
However, a male character hiding insecurities can be accurate (especially among children and teenagers) because not being a masculine male makes you a target, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Anyway, here are some insecurities I don’t typically see in male characters:
- Appearance & Perception: I rarely see this one. If I do see it, the author never goes into detail or the insecurity is about something quite small. Most of the time male characters mention it once and then forget about it for the rest of the story. I almost never see male characters insecure in the way others perceive them, which does not always relate to appearance (e.g. their voice or the way they walk).
- Fears and Phobias: Having a fear or phobia of something other than “what if I don’t defeat the antagonist” or “what if my actions end up hurting/killing my friends” is nearly absent from male characters. They’re never afraid of themselves dying or of anything that could prevent them from achieving a goal.
- Self Worth: Again, most of the insecurities in male characters that relate to self worth are about being a good leader or fulfilling a prophecy. Explore other options. Maybe your character thinks he’s not a good son or that he’s a terrible friend.
Here are some tips:
If you have created a fictional language, go ahead and create fictional words for these terms. Our terms might not be culturally appropriate anyway, depending on your world.
For example, a culture might have different words for someone who is a bisexual male and someone who is a bisexual female. Therefore, you could create two different words.
However, when it comes to creating fictional words, it’s good to be clear on what they mean. As an example, I’ll use the word “allromnilo” to mean “bisexual male” and “allromnelu” to mean “bisexual female”. Refer to bisexual males as “allromnilo” enough times and in the right context (when talking about relationships, who they are attracted to, etc.) to show the reader what this word means. Do the same thing for “allromnelu”.
You can take it further by switching the order to show preference. A bisexual woman with a preference for women would therefore be called “romallnelu”. A gender neutral option to our bisexual alternative could be “allromnol”.
Here are all the words so far:
- Allromnilo - bisexual male
- Allromnelu - bisexual female
- Allromnol - bisexual
- Romallnelu - bisexual female, preference for women
These words are all pretty similar, so if you do something like this is might be easier to create words that are not so similar or to create fewer words. You can put a dictionary in the back, but it’s still important to give context within the text alone.
It’s not bad to create words like this (especially since many cultures have different ways of describing stuff like this), but it’s so rare to find characters just outright say what they are in a situation that is not a big coming out moment.
It’s especially rare to find someone say they’re bisexual. There’s always some speech about how it “doesn’t matter what this person likes and blah blah blah let’s not put labels on it”, which erases bi/pan people and which also allows people to avoid talking about a subject that makes them somewhat uncomfortable.
So it’s not bad to use fictional words, but it’s good to use real words to break down the taboo that surrounds them.
BUT DO MODERN WORDS DISTRACT FROM MY WORLD?
Maybe. Maybe not. It really comes down to whether it feels “right” in your world or not and whether you could see your characters casually using these terms.
LOOK. IT’S EVERY SINGLE STEREOTYPE ABOUT MEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVISTS PUT INTO ONE HANDY-DANDY DEMOGRAPHICS SURVEY SO IT CAN BE STATISTICALLY VALIDATED!! [x]
Song: Sakura Kiss (for string)Artist: Hirano YoshihisaAlbum: Ouran High School Host Club Soundtrack & Character Song 1
soundtrack of my life. wedding song, funeral song, what have you.
oh my god, used as a wedding song, I’m in heaven!
Annnnnnd playlisted for the ball.
YOOOO SO HERE’S A REALLY QUICK GUIDE ON BUYING FROM AMAZON.JP HERE’S SO CRAP THAT YOU SHOULD KEEP IN MIND THAT I DON’T REALLY COVER IN THE PICTURES!
- Amazon will automatically change the money on your credit card to yen from whatever you use so you don’t have to worry about that! You can you a currency converter to see how much an item will cost in your currency!
- Amazon.jp will only ship media items internationally. If you try to order something they can’t ship you’ll get the error message while going through check out that I show. Personally, I really recommend the site amiami for stuff that I can’t get off amazon.jp, they ship internationally and I’ve had great success with them. There are many other sites that I can recommend but this tutorial is about amazon.jp not other crap.
- Shipping takes about 3 or 4 days. ex. My copy of Mekakucity V’s that I pre-ordered was released on January 1st, and the expected delivery is the 4th or 5th. Usually I get stuff a day earlier even.
- Sometimes if you pre-order a popular item RIGHT before release, you’ll be put on back order, you’ll get an e-mail saying this, and that means that amazon ran out of stock due to such a short notice, but when they restock which usually takes a week or two you’ll get your pre-order shipped then. It’s only happened to me once and it’s not that big of a deal. You just have to wait some extra time.
- Shipping is about 10 dollars depending on what you order. For DVD’s it’s usually 700 yen but that can change depending on the item.
- You can just put your e-mails you get from them in google translate ya that’s what I do.
That should cover it, but if you have any questions, or if you need help with anything, or are like wtc is this e-mail, feel free to send me a message! I’m more than happy to help!
For those interested in purchasing goods off AmazonJP…
Naming systems vary widely based on culture, sub-culture, and even family. Go beyond creating magical creatures and create naming systems for your world too.
If you’re writing in a world that has not figured out what sperm is and where it comes from yet, names will most likely be matronymic (it’ll probably be matriarchal in terms of any type of inheritance, but this does not guarantee gender equality) because there’s no way to confirm paternity and because people used to believe that women could magically make life (which also means the first deities were most likely female).
- A matronymic name is a surname that is based on maternal lineage. These names might only exist for one generation.
- A patronymic name is a surname that is based on paternal lineage. These names might only exist for one generation.
- A family name is a surname that is used by an entire family for generations.
Legal and/or Official: This is the name on legal documents. If there are no birth certificates, this name will be the equivalent of what you would put on legal documents. Not all people go by their legal or official name for several reasons. One reason could be that no one in a given culture goes by this name, but instead by a casual name. This name could be used for legal, religious, or political purposes. These names do not have to be given at birth.
Birth Name: The birth name is obviously the name given at birth, but it doesn’t have to be right after birth. It can be days, weeks, or even months after. The birth name can also be a temporary name until an official name is chosen. It depends on the culture you’ve created.
Given Name: The given name is the first name that people in Western society are referred to on a daily basis. For example, a person whose legal name is “Daniel” might go by “Dan”, or they might just go by “Daniel”.
Nickname: The nickname is different from shortened versions of names. While a person may prefer a shortened version of their name for casual use, a nickname of “Daniel” would be “Danny Boy”. However, some nicknames are used regularly like the nicknames in Holes.
Religious or Spiritual Name: Some first names are chosen for religious purposes. This could be standard in the culture you’ve created or it could be a casual occurrence.
Appearance: Self-explanatory. However, these names might not appear until later in life.
Meaning: This refers to two things:
- Author meaning: This is when you, the author, chooses a name, that exists in our world or that has roots from our world, because of its meaning.
- Story meaning: This is when your character’s name is chosen because it has meaning in their fictional world.
Legal and/or Official: See above.
Birth Name: See above.
Given Name: A person’s given name might actually be their middle name (see example 2 below).
Religious or Spiritual Name: Religious and spiritual names that are given or chosen are often done so for religious and spiritual purposes. For example, in some versions of Catholicism, children choose a saint’s name to be Confirmed under, thus making this name their Confirmation name. Some people make this part of their legal name while others do not.
Symbolic Name: See above.
Meaning: See above.
Appearance: See above.
Ancestral: These are surnames that come from an ancestor of an individual. They can also come from a place.
Chosen: Chosen names are self explanatory, but they can also fall in the adopted category below.
Hereditary: Hereditary surnames are surnames that have been passed down through generations and that are used by the family. Any name can eventually become a hereditary name.
Clan: A clan name is a name that shows a person is a descendant of a certain person. This brings all these descendants together because they claim the same lineage, thus making them a clan. Clan names can exist alongside another surname. This varies by culture and not everyone will be associated with a clan. These are similar to ancestral names, but ancestral names are more personal and individualistic.
Occupation: Surnames can come from a person’s job. These names
Adopted: An adopted surname is just that. It is chosen by a person who adopts it from someone else. Reasons for adopting a surname from someone else vary.
Forced: Forced surnames are names that are forced on a person. This can be through adoption, kidnapping, slavery, immigration, cultural change, certain marriage practices, and a few other situations.
Appearance: See above.
Place Name: Some surnames are based on where a person is from (“George of X”).
None: Surnames do not exist everywhere.
Importance: Some names have significant importance to a culture. This importance can be political, religious, or just well known within a society. If certain names hold political importance (most likely surnames) and you are writing characters from well known families, make it known that their family name is important. For example, upon hearing your characters name, the behavior of others might change around them.
Taboo: Some names can be taboo or they can hold negative connotations based on historical context. For example, when people hear the name “Adolf”, they think of Hitler. If your characters have a name that is considered taboo in your world, that may affect your character. Names can be taboo for any reason. It might be taboo to be named after a deceased paternal family member or it might be taboo for a child to be given the same name as the current ruler.
Outlawed: Not all names are up for use. There could be a written law that certain names are not to be used or there could be an unwritten law that using certain names is disrespectful. For example, naming children after deities or important figures in your world’s culture could be considered illegal or at least deeply frowned upon.
Title: Like I said above, some titles can be considered names or at least part of a name. This probably won’t be part of a person’s legal name, but they might be addressed this way daily.
Syllables: Some names might be required to have a certain amount of syllables.
Epithets: Sometimes, if a child has the same name as the parent, something might be added to the name to differentiate between the two.
Traditional: Some people might have a traditional name to honor heritage or culture and an official or legal name.
Many cultures have certain prefixes or suffixes that indicate if a name if feminine, masculine, neither, or both. Make a list of suffixes or prefixes that are associated with gender to help keep naming patterns in your fictional world. You can also have different versions of the same name this way.
Below I will give examples of a fictional naming systems.
a person complaining about puns basically invites every pun enthusiast in the vicinity to come snapping rhythmically from the shadows
I found this site when I was looking around comparison heights for 5”2 compared to 5”11 and if you know the height of a celebrity/historical figure and it’s similar to your characters it may be helpful for writing and/or drawing /0v0/
Hi. I’m writing a militaristic spy against the government and I was wanting to know what simply HAS to be in it. Like what is psychologically done to create a spy or what kind of spy work should there is. I don’t want this to be a James Bond lets shoot and blow stuff up, so I’m 100% trying to approach this realistically.
Hello there, Savannah! Let me first thank you for your continued support, it really does mean the world to me~ ♥︎
Now, as for your question(s) I absolutely get where you are coming from. Ironically, this is the funny thing about Spies (and any sort of shady underworld themes). You can do research, but can one really trust that? And even so— how successful can it be? After all, what are the odds that all Spies are trained the same way? Not very high if you ask me.
Unfortunately, this is one of those situations in which ‘realism’ is more a burden than anything else. Spies in the ‘real’ world are not as we perceive them in fiction— or maybe they are, this is the funny thing. There is no way to know for certain. After all, the best Spy Network should be entirely unknown to us, right?
I think that the way to approach this is to create *your* own Spy Network. I mean it. There is no way to get it ‘wrong’ since Spies in our culture might as well be supernatural creatures. Thus, you have the freedom to create *your* own version of Spies— the trick here is to make it authentic (or, bluntly put, it has to make sense).
Really, when people say something is ‘realistic’ it simply boils down to them being able to ‘understand it’ and ‘agreeing that it could happen.’ This is why some disaster movies really affect people, because it shows them how probable something is— no matter how silly it may seem from the surface.
Keeping that in mind, let’s look over how ‘PROBABLE’ we can make your Spy Network, okay?
First you need the founder(s). Who made this Spy Network? What is the purpose of it? Is there disagreement amongst the founders? What do they disagree on? Is killing civilians okay? What about torture? Now, what do they all agree on? What are values of this organization? Spy Networks are some of the best-run businesses, because the last thing they want is their own people launching a hostile take-over. This is why power needs to be split carefully. Who runs the show? Who makes the choices? Is there a council, or a single mastermind?
Remember, a spy network is about CONTROL. This can be done in many ways (one of which is shooting things and blowing this up, of course). Control can be obtained through Information (using blackmail as leverage), Terror (using violence as leverage), and Resources (using supply and demand as leverage).
If a country is growing too strong, you can find out what the lead officials do behind closed doors, and blackmail them. You can steal their money— or worse, their cache of weapons. And, of course, you can just have a sniper blow the brains of the Señor Presidente on national television.
Control. It’s all about control.
Now, what goes into the training of one such Spy? That will depend on your Spy Network. What you need to keep in mind that the Network is looking for people they can’t buy (because otherwise the enemy may end up offering more money), or people who disagree with their morals (again, hostile takeovers are bad for Spy Networks). This is why the ‘training’ is really nothing more that a systematic way to weed out everyone who is not fit for the task. Ask yourself what your Spy Network needs, what they want, and then put yourself in their shoes.
“How can we weed out the weak and the unfit?”
There is an interesting story about a secret service trainee who was asked to shoot his own wife in order to pass the next test. They locked both in a room and gave him a gun. (Spoilers: the gun had nothing but blanks, but neither wife nor agent knew that. Also, no, he did not pass the test). Is this brutal? Is this bad? Maybe, but you can’t say that test wouldn’t guarantee a soldier willing to do anything for your cause c;
Remember. It’s all about control— control over your minions, your foes, and the entire populace.
I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any more questions~ ♥︎ I had tons of fun answering this!
Thank you for the question, Savannah! And doubly-thank you for pledging to my Patreon page! Thank you for directly supporting me, my books, and the awesome posts that you see on this blog everyday~ ♥︎
Interested in becoming a Patron? Head over to my Patreon Page where you will find information on the sweet perks that can be yours from as little as $1 dollar a month, least of which is my gratitude! ♥︎
There are a couple of things you can do:
- Create different naming systems. In the Naming Systems link, you’ll find a guide to creating a naming system. If these cultures have different naming systems, you’ll be able to set them apart. Through naming systems and customs, one culture might have four names (each with two syllables) and one might have two names, both of which tend to be long. That’s enough to make them sound different.
- Use different prefixes/suffixes and roots. In the Names link, you’ll see that I created several different names using similar roots, prefixes, and suffixes. They all look like they belong to the same culture or language because of this.
- Use different spelling and phonology. Different languages have different sounds and different spellings to convey those sounds. If one culture does not use “k”, “q”, or “i” but another one does, we might have names such as “Caty” and “Qati” (both pronounced as “kah-tee”). They’re pronounced the same, but look quite different.
I’ll give a more in depth example below: