Are Women Better Writers Than Men?

Posted Dec 18 2014, 11:43 am in , , , ,

Grammarly conducted a survey of 3,000 people and asked questions about writers. Of the 3,000 respondents, about 54% of them were men. Check out the info graphic and my comments that follow (click on the graphic to blow it up):

 MenvsWomen_Writers_infographic

 

Overall, I don’t think the information here is all that surprising. When you look at things like character development vs. get to the point, I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that most men are writing for men and are writing things like action thrillers. Their stories are plot driven. We don’t care a whole lot about why the bad guy wants to blow up the world, we just want to see the good guy save it. Likewise, most women are writing for women, and as a romance writer, I always focus on character first. Romance readers want the journey that develops characters. We need to know the “why”s of everyone.

And is anyone really surprised that men tend to write shorter sentences than women? It kind of goes right along with the “get to the point” issue. It’s been long established that generally, women use more words than men do on an average day. Of course, it’s not all women because I, for one, speak thousands fewer words than my husband on a daily basis. I don’t believe it’s a man vs. woman writer thing. It’s stylistic. I don’t spend a lot of time on description in my books. I’m very general in describing how characters look, what they wear, and where they are. I don’t spend a lot of time on it because as a reader, I skim that stuff. I want to create my own picture in my head. Other authors, however, give a detailed run down for every character (even minor ones) so you know exactly what each is wearing throughout the entire book. I tend to follow Elmore Leonard’s advice to not write the stuff readers skip. I can respect that some readers like that level of detail, but it’s not for me.

And herein lies my biggest problem with the survey. Women are considered better writers based on the fact that they are more descriptive, write longer sentences, and spend more time developing characters. I don’t believe you can make that judgment on those criteria. If it were that easy, I would think Charles Dickens was a fabulous writer. He could spend a page and a half describing someone sitting down. I can acknowledge his books as classics, but I dreaded reading them in high school (as a teacher I never taught him). On the other hand, take a look at Elmore Leonard. He wrote short and snappy, but when he let loose with dialogue, it was a thing of beauty. I think we can all come up with authors whose writing we love and hate in almost any genre. It’s more about what style appeals to us than whether a particular writer is good.

So, while I think the survey is interesting, I won’t be walking around saying I’m a better writer than men because I’m a woman. What do you think? 

 

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