Men Are Calling Out The Things Female Authors Get So Wrong When Writing Male Characters In Their Books, And Some Of These Are Surprising

    "Women underestimate the male ability to spend hours talking about the dumbest crap. I want to read a romance book where the guy is late, and she thinks he was cheating, but he was actually hanging out with the bros, talking about how unreasonably strong gorillas are and lost track of time."

    It's no secret that male authors tend to wildly misrepresent women when they write female characters in their books and movies; it's something Olivia Wilde was outspoken about in the press for her film Don't Worry Darling. But in the same way men frequently miss the mark and write one-dimensional female characters, women are just as prone to writing male characters who come off flat or stereotypical, and it often flies under the radar.

    So, my curiosity was tickled when u/SilNoHoo asked guys, "What is something women who write male characters get wrong?" And honestly, I never thought of some of these:

    Heads up that there's a lot of cringe in here — consider it atonement for all the horrible ways we (continue to) write women.

    1. "This is petty and personal to me, but you can’t just say a character is 6’5" without addressing its physical problems. Like, I know my height is generally considered attractive, and I understand that, but you have to understand that I DON’T FIT IN BEDS. The one woman-writing-male moment that fully shattered my immersion in the story was when in one fantasy series, a character was casually mentioned to be 6’5" six books in the series — at 6’5", you would not fit on a normal horse saddle, among other things. So please, if you're going to write about a character my height, don’t make it an afterthought. Tell me, at least in passing, about them ducking under a door, or the fact that they had to get their bed custom-made.

    tall man short woman kissing ((insert) excerpt from book

    2. "Women who write gay smut fan-fiction usually have a more glorified view of gay sex than it actually is. Also, these guys in many fan-fictions are either strictly tops or bottoms, and their sexual role is basically their entire personality. I don't think I've ever read a gay romance novel, written by a woman, where the guys switched up their positions."

    heath ledger and jake gyllenhaal kiss in "brokeback mountain"

    3. "He's always the rescuer, and never vulnerable. He's always swearing that he'll never fall in love because his parents divorced, his ex cheated him, or some other nonsense like that. And he never has the open-mindedness to think that life happens and that you don't have to swear off love and sleep with random women out of anger."

    bedroom talk in "50 shades of grey"

    4. "So often the male love interest is a big-time CEO who becomes interested in the female protagonist, and then suddenly has all the time for her and is available 24/7. It's hilarious."

    book description

    5. "It feels like the male lead in just about every romance novel is always some 6'2" muscular dude with a deep voice and abs. Oh, and he's rich. Always rich. For some reason, it's essential that they always have olive skin as well. That combined with the default of the guy doing everything to chase and woo the woman and somehow always knowing exactly what she wants.

    man with light stubble (insert) romance novel excerpt talking about olive skin

    6. "I unfortunately read a story from this author who is misinformed and believes in men's natural lubrication."

    a donut dripping with purple glaze (insert) excerpt from wattpad fanfic

    7. "Men don't have these long-winded conversations with our friends about how we really feel about a woman. How we feel is usually determined by how we act when everyone is together."

    chad michael murray in "a cinderella story"

    8. "We're not always smirking. We're much more likely to have just a dumb, blank look on our face."

    kristen stewart and robert pattinson in "twlight"

    9. "I can usually tell right away if a woman wrote a male character when his inner monologue and thoughts are too analytical. I feel like many women (not all, of course) think about a particular situation from many different angles; meanwhile, men will be 'quick' and concise about it.

    two guys watch a woman skate past them in "sleepover"

    10. "They never get that we actually can think about nothing, and there's no deeper meaning to it. We just need down time."


    "Lots of guys don’t need to talk at all to each other to either understand one another or bond. Just existing in each other's presence is enough." 


    11. "It's not necessarily one thing they get wrong — many of the same mistakes that male authors make in writing women, female authors will make in writing men. The men will have no agency. They are driven by lust, anger, or duty unless they are the boss, in which case they have some nebulous goal that is never established why they even want it."

    britney spears as lucy deals with an upset man in "crossroads"

    12. "I've noticed female writers tend to imagine male social groups as far more hierarchical, rigid, and dominance-based than they actually are in real life. They also fail to understand where the line is between us horsing around and us being hurtful to each other, both verbally and physically."


    13. "Their male characters just happen to be muscular and have abs, seemingly without ever doing any exercise. I feel like many female authors don't realize how big of a part of your life that gym and fitness have to be for men to look like a fitness model. They think we just need to go to the gym here and there, and there you go. Some people even think if guys go too much, they might even get 'too big.' For an author to think that their depiction of a man can have the body of a Greek god without ever doing anything in order to achieve that must mean that guy is the peak of mankind. And yet, he fell for the most ordinary woman to ever walk the earth.

    romance book section at bookstore

    14. "In books, when something bad happens to the male characters, they lash out and get mad. In reality, most of us learned that it's not 'cool' to show emotions, so we actually internalize and hide it."


    15. "The thing that I immediately notice when I'm reading a man's point of view that's written by a woman is that the sort of topics that get a lot of introspection feel different from my reality. In the male introspection written by women, there's much more mulling over the thoughts and feelings of others, and trying to guess others' motives. However, for me, and I feel like many men, when my mind wanders, it's more along the lines of, 'OMG that thing I did before was really dumb, wasn't it? I'm your brain, and I'm going to make you feel that cringe all over again!' or 'Let's concoct an elaborately complicated plan for the future,' or even, 'Let's go off on weird tangents about exceedingly unlikely hypotheticals.'"

    "50 shades of grey" (insert) excerpt from "Grey"

    16. "I don't usually see the mild anxiety permeating personal conversations between men in accurate light. Men are more emotional than we let on; we just don't express as much, which leads to a standoff in conversation. We both know the other person is keeping things in, because both of us are, but we don't want to overstep our boundaries because we know we're hiding for a reason. It's not a competition to see who folds first; it's about maintaining each other's personal space."

    Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield in "New Girl" (insert) excerpt from Jessica Park's "Flat-Out Matt"

    17. "Any constant struggle for dominance between men, with catty passive-aggressive bullshit to determine their place in the 'hierarchy' is hard to believe. Only men who watch those 'how to be alpha' YouTube channels do that kind of crap.

    chris pine in "don't worry darling"

    18. "I’m so tired of the idiot husband stereotype. I’m not asking to make him godly smart, just normal."

    parents in "mean girls"

    19. "Something that has always bothered me with the romance genre is that men aren't treated as people that are allowed to have flaws. Usually, in romance, both the man and the woman will have issues preventing them from coming together. However, they showcase the woman's problems as something that developed from an adverse event in her past, so it's forgivable. At the same time, they will only display the surface level of the man's issues, so he is the single individual responsible. This puts the male character in a position of not only accepting the woman, flaws and all, but also coming to terms with his own flaws and making amends for the way he used to be before he can be truly worthy of love."

    couple in bed in "50 shades of grey" (Insert) excerpt form "50 shades of grey"

    20. "There is no such thing as 'locker room talk.' Maybe in the past, but nowadays, anyone bragging about sex in that kind of setting is seen as weird. Or, they're probably a teenager trying to look cool, and even in those cases, they won't go into graphic detail, just 'I had sex with so-and-so.'"

    book description for Meghan Quinn's "The Locker Room"

    21. "I helped my partner write a few male characters, and I noticed that she struggles to relate to certain parts of the male experience. For example, with men, there's an overwhelming but nuanced fear of showing weakness we're all familiar with. Grieving a major loss? You can't do it openly. It's even hard to do privately. A lot of women authors either make their male characters too sanguine and turn the other cheek, which most men would struggle with, or they're made to be two-dimensional barbarians who get angry all the time."

    robert pattinson as edward in "twilight"

    22. "I take issue when women write men who react to everything. Guy makes a shitty comment to his friend inadvertently? Guess they have to fight each other now! Y'know, instead of talking it out and rationalizing what happened. For the most part, guys don't talk crap about their friends behind their backs, yet women tend to imagine male friendships as having this kind of drama."

    two guys fight over a love interest in "insecure"

    23. "I feel like a lot of romance written by woman is about her being able to change him. No matter what trauma he has, no matter what his worldview is, she can change him."

    meg ryan and tom hanks in "sleepless in seattle" (insert) excerpts from nora ephron's screenplay for "sleepless in seattle"

    24. "I think women tend to misunderstand how little we can know about our friend group sometimes. It can be very different from how their group of friends is. For example, we could simply not know (or forget) a mate's last name or the name of their long-term girlfriend they've been dating for two years. It's actually pretty common."


    25. "I find it strange when male characters ask too many questions of their friends, or just talk too much. I spent eight hours fishing with my best friend the other day, and we realistic talked for maybe 30 minutes to an hour in total — he told me his family is doing good, and that's about as personal as it got. The rest of our conversation was about what lures or bait to use. Also, we're more 'mean' to our closest friends than acquaintances. You can usually tell how close men are by how 'mean' to each other they are face to face versus how well they speak about the person when they're not around."


    26. "Haven't seen them really 'get' the male group dynamic. Women authors tend to write about it so seriously. Even when we fight, it's not going to be that serious because the other people in the group think it's the best entertainment ever. It's hard to stay upset in that kind of setting. Or, someone will usually completely disarm a situation with a rude joke about whatever people are tense about."

    men posing as football players dance erotically on stage in "euphoria"

    27. "In my experience, men don't just become communicative, vulnerable husband-types just because someone we're into asks us a question. We either genuinely don't care and acknowledge it half-heartedly or jokingly, or, especially on bigger heavier topics, dance around our true emotions in the conversation."

    "do revenge"

    28. This author took the phrase 'the penis has a mind of its own' a little too literally:

    person with shoes and their pants down to ankles (insert) book excerpt

    29. "Barbershop talk. They assume that’s where men meet to yell and discuss very vulgar, explicit details about their sexual conquests. That almost never happens. The most you’ll hear in a barbershop is a sports debate. For the most part, it’s a very tame environment to cut your mane."


    30. On one hand: "Women writers have no idea how much men see the world through a lens of sexuality. I'm dominated by sexual thoughts during a normal day, but a woman-written male character never thinks about it."

    daniel kaluya in "get out" (insert) excerpt from "grey"

    31. But on the other hand: "Hypersexuality. No, I do not want to put my penis in everything that moves just because I'm a guy."

    pallavi sharda in "wedding season" (insert) excerpt from "grey"

    32. And finally: "Women underestimate the male ability to spend hours talking about the dumbest crap. Like, I want to read a romance book where the guy is late to the date with the girl, and she thinks he was cheating on her or something...but he was actually just hanging out with the bros, talking about how unreasonably strong gorillas are, and lost track of time."

    Screenshot from "Fire Island"

    Who are some fictional male characters from books and movies that you feel were obviously written by someone who doesn't understand men? And what do you wish more authors knew about guys as they're writing male characters? Share your knowledge in the comments.

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.