Writing with Male Mental Sex

The male Main Character solves problems by examining what cause or group of causes is responsible for an effect or group of effects. The effort made to solve the problem will focus on affecting a cause, causing an effect, affecting an effect or causing a cause.

This describes four different approaches. Affecting a cause is manipulating an existing force to change its eventual impact. Causing an effect means applying a new force that will create an impact. Affecting an effect is altering an effect after it has happened. Causing a cause is applying a new force that will make some other force come into play to ultimately create an impact. These are the four primary problem solving techniques of the male minded character.

It is important to note that these techniques can be applied to either external or internal problems. Either way, manipulating cause and effect is the modus operandi. When selecting female or male, typically, the choice is as simple as deciding if you want to tell a story about a man or a woman. But there is another consideration that is being employed with growing frequency in modern stories: putting the psyche of one sex into the skin of another. This does not refer only to the “sex change” comedies, but to many action stories with male mental sex, female Main Characters (e.g. Aliens) and many decision stories with female mental sex, male Main Characters (Prince of Tides).

When an author writes a part for a man, it would intuitively use the male psyche for that character. Yet, by simply changing the name of the character from Joe to Mary and shifting the appropriate gender terms, the character would ostensibly become a woman. But that woman would not seem like a woman. Even if all the specific masculine dialog were changed, even if all the culturally dictated manifestations were altered, the underlying psyche of the character would have the male bias, rather than the female bias.

Sometimes stereotypes are propagated by what an audience expects to see, which filters the message and dilutes the truth. By placing the male psyche in a female character, preconceptions no longer prevent the message from being heard. A word of caution — this technique can make a Main Character seem “odd” in some hard to define way to your audience. So although the message may fare better, empathy between your audience and your Main Character may not.

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software