I beta read, and I’ve seen a pattern in how men and women write differently. This doesn’t mean one is better than the other, but it is a testament to how our brains process information in different ways. Once you recognize that difference and see in what ways men write and in what ways women write, you can blend your writing so that your gender is hidden.
(When I say “gender” here I mean the “masculine” and “feminine,” not specifically straight men and straight women. I mean more the gender of a person, not what sexual organs they have.)
Here are the giveaways to the writer’s gender:
Gender of the Protagonist
Most often, men will write male protagonists and women will write female protagonists. Women are more likely to write from a male point of view than men are to write a female point of view. I believe this is because women are also more likely to read a book with a male protagonist whereas men are more reluctant to read a book with a female protagonist. I don’t think that’s sexist; it’s a personal preference.
This one is more prevalent in beginning writers. Male writers tend to focus more of the outer appearance of characters. They also tend to make their female characters overly sexualized, by commenting on breast size or how tight their shirt is. I read one short story that made a female seem more like a porn star than a real character, and when I pointed it out to the author, he was beyond embarrassed. He had no idea he’d done it. That was how he saw women (unfortunate, but true). Men notice boobs, no way around it, but once they realize that, they can overcome it in their writing. Although, if you read published books by male authors, it’s a lingering effect to write women as dames and not really characters.
Action vs. Emotion
Men focus more on the outward action of a scene, whereas women focus more on the emotional development that happens in result of the scene. It’s not that men can’t write emotion, but they don’t necessarily think emotion first. They think action first. That’s one reason I enjoy books with joint male and female authors. There is a healthy balance of action, suspense, and emotional output. This could also be a reason why men read male authors and females read both female and male authors. They relate to the way the author sees the story. They’re on the same wavelength.
“I write like a guy, so what?”
So nothing. You write like a man, congratulations. But, now that you’re aware of these things you may not have been aware of before, you can evolve your writing. The same goes for women that write like women.
Being a woman doesn’t mean you can’t write action scenes, no more than being a man means you can’t write an emotional love scene. Regardless of sex, gender, or label, you can learn to write like whatever you want.
The bottom line is to write a story that you would want to read. Write the story like you want it. You’ll hear the advice “write with an audience in mind” but that doesn’t mean you should change your story or writing so that a certain group of people will buy it. Don’t push emotions onto your characters so women will like it; don’t make your character gay just so LGBT folks will buy it; and don’t force themes to fit into an era or trend. Write your story. Write your story.