Thursday, December 29, 2011

Simply Write It, Stupid!

Procrastination, the universe knows I'm guilty of it. At around the 65k word mark of my book, I think I am realizing it more than ever. Sometimes I think I have too many friends who write and manage to publish what they write. While the thought is very encouraging, at the same time it gets rather intimidating, especially when they write far faster than I. They also manage to work at it every day, a fact which doesn't really help alleviate my own self-deprecation. Sure, I can blame the fact that I write for a living at my 40-hour day job, but considering my friend JH Glaze works in the same building I do on the same schedule and he's already well into his third book in the past two years, I really have no excuse.

It wasn't until one Tuesday writing group session at Library Coffee  I realized how bad my excuses have gotten. After to listening to my tiny word-count lament, one of the girls suggested just writing down crap, not necessarily in my book, but just random crap to get myself started. When I asked her to clarify, she said "Just write some words, and follow it with more words, and then more words after that. Do it for ten minutes." I did. Two hundred and fifty-some words later (after typing out: "This is my craptastically-crappy short story") I actually had something rather readable, and also her point. While it is good to have a game plan, while it's good to have big ideas, when you get so focused on making something good, you're so terrified of creating something crappy or mediocre that you end up not creating anything it all.


It's not post-modern. It's not minimalist. It's blank.

I don't think writer's block  has really anything to do with lack of inspiration, but everything to do with an overabundance of intimidation and anxiety. The project is overwhelming, you want to make every word count and be perfectly in place. Does your mind really work like that though? Who honestly is able to write perfect dialogue, imagery, and flow on the spot? I sure as hell can't. I don't think I know anyone who can, though it often seems like they do with their massive word counts assembled in what seems as only a matter of minutes. If someone actually claims to be able to do this, they're either lying through their teeth or not human.

This doesn't count. They fling their own poo.


So here is what I've gleaned, which I hope you take with you, is this: in the times you feel the urge to not write, write some words, follow it with more words, and then more words after that. You can edit LATER. You can embellish LATER. You can add space monkey metaphors LATER. It's always easier to polish something when you've already created it, even crap. However, it's really hard to be proud of a big pile of absolutely nothing. So faithful readers, at the risk of sounding cheesy for pulling a total "title of the film" moment on my own blog post, stop getting intimidated by your work, make it your b*tch, and simply write it, stupid!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oh Look! I Wrote Some Stuff!

So October's here...
Yeah, so to say I've been busy lately is like saying a Catholic bear sh*ts in the Pope's woods.
Please don't ask me to show what the Pope's woods look like.

Anyhoo, here's a quick update: I've been writing...a lot!
What can I say? My career is picking up faster than it was before. I just sort of wish I got paid for all the extra stuff every once and awhile. I'm not griping or anything, just getting one's name out in the community can be expensive sometimes! At least I have my free books. I still need more bookshelves though.
Where was I?
Oh, right, writing.
The book is progressing slowly but surely, reaching around 60,000 words currently and into the 10th chapter. The characters are about to embark eastward of England. My work sessions at Library Coffee Company with Wannabe Writer have been fruitful enough, though it's been getting loud lately with the various other community groups that have started also meeting there on Tuesdays. We may as well just reserve a table on all of November's Tuesdays for NaNoWriMo write-ins so we at least have access to the outlets. I digress, however.

I also joined up with my friends Nick and Jason of the Gin Rebellion and we'll be playing music together as soon as we finish figuring out, writing, and arranging our repertoire. It should be some styling Balkan sounding craziness. Been writing songs on that front. Songwriting has been a bit therapeutic for me lately. It's faster than writing books, that's for sure! Also I must admit I have a bit of a penchant for rhythmic wordplay and unconventional rhyme schemes that don't always translate well to novels, but quite nicely to song lyrics.

Now to the stuff I can actually show you! So as you know, faithful readers, I've been writing quite a bit lately for a publication called the Steampunk Chronicle. I think I've only posted links to my work only once or twice. So here is a brief list of links to some of the articles I put together:
News Articles:
Potential Steampunk TV Series 'Aether Dancer' Seeks Funding
Book Reviews:
The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge
With Fate Conspire by Marie Brennan
Blood in the Skies by G.D. Falksen
Convention Reports and Reviews:
Goblins and Dragons and Steampunks, Oh My! (Labyrinth of Jareth 2011)
The Adventures of Steam-Valkyrie: The Convention of Dragons (Dragon*con 2011)

Also I'm one of the Art Directors for the Mechanical Masquerade put on by the Artifice Club. I got to come up with the storyline among other things and wrote up some in character blog posts for the event:



Alright, shameless self promotion aside, I promise I will have a real post on here...someday. If you'd like to get some insight on craft though, read the book reviews. I personally believe every writer has room to improve, even the published well-knowns.
Until then, happy writing!





Thursday, July 28, 2011

Writing For One's Living and Reputation

So it's been inevitable, I've stretched myself too thin. Nothing wrong with this of course, but now I've finally been moved to copy-writing full time at my day job. So yeah, those HUGE chunks of free time I had during the day? Gone now in favor of writing website copy for plumbers and donut shops.

Is this a bad thing, you might ask? Not really. I welcome it actually. Granted while it can get a little tedious writing advertising cheese over and over again, it's making me write faster. Example? You see what I've typed up so far? Written in less than two minutes. Normally it would've taken me about five to ten.

I also have been writing more and more for the Steampunk Chronicle. A close friend who works in publishing told me that one of the best ways to approach an agent after writing a book is to have an online presence established already. It's starting to pay off already by exposing more people to my work and to my existence in general, I suppose. Don't even get me started on all the free books I get to read for review, either! Though I will admit it seems sort of funny that because of this, the Borders' liquidation sales are making me balk a little. So many cheap books, so little time! I need more bookshelves...

/drool

On that note here's some advice as far as establishing your online presence: find something love and write about it. Blog about it! Find a publication involved with it and submit articles for it. If that something you love happens to be involved with the genre you are writing, all the better! The people you meet will open so many opportunities for you. But also keep in mind these few notes:

1.Be competent. Write something worth reading and write it well. If that means you need to do research or write in a certain style, by all means do so.

2. Be reliable. Have a deadline coming up and you're running late? Let your editor know. Other than than if you say you are going to do or not do something, consistently hold to your word. No one likes a flake, and a flaky reputation spreads faster than any other in most circles.

3. Be helpful. Sometimes someone asks you to take on an assignment that is not the most entertaining in the world. Take it on and make it just as good as anything else you've written. The talent to spin crap into gold speaks volumes of your ability as a writer. More importantly, the fact that you've taken on a task and performed above expectations speaks volumes of your character. People will respect you for it.

4. Be gracious. The people you know are offering you these opportunities because they either trust you with them, or because think you have the potential to take them on. Don't put on airs. Thank them for what they offer you.

5. Be mature. The internet is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. You want to know how I've how I've gotten a few page views on this blog, according to my stats? The keyword phrase: sneaking into the women's lockerroom. The internet can be your best, and also your worst friend. While it has made it much easier to get exposure, at the same time, you need to quickly learn how to put the best face forward to your potential readers. How many horror stories have we heard about authors getting butt-hurt over unfavorable reviews and arguing against them over the public forum? Too many. Not everyone is going to like your work. Acting super-sensitive about it to complete strangers is going to burn your bridges faster than a wine jug full of thermite.

6. Be passionate. This, this, and more of this! Keep in mind the reason why you're doing this above any other: because you love it. Writing can be a lot of work, but it also can be so incredibly fun. You're not doing this for the fame, and I certainly know that you're not doing this for the fortune--and if you are, you should probably reexamine your goals and then find an easier and more profitable profession.

Like an evil mastermind, muahahaha!
You are doing this because you love it. You cannot help but think up stories and want to write them down. You want to do something you enjoy. So enjoy it, dammit! Have a boring writing assignment? Make it fun. It's possible! I think I spent a good paragraph coming up with tree puns for a tree services site the other day. Did I want to write about tree services? No. Did I have to stifle my giggling while coming up with it so my coworkers wouldn't give me funny looks over my cubicle wall? You betcha, I did! Making a habit out of this practice will transcend to your other work and will keep your creativity from drying up.

A good friend of mine posted this on Twitter a few weeks ago: "Creativity is not a zero sum game. It's a renewable resource. The more you use it, the freer it flows. Thank heavens for that." This really does hold true. Don't let the fact that you are not given the most creative of tasks bar you from using that creativity and having fun with it. Every moment can be an opportunity.

Now that I've rambled on a bit, it's update and shameless plugging time!
I'd like to let you know my friend and co-worker Jeff Glaze has released his first paranormal thriller novel, The Spirit Box, on Kindle. He also has a sci-fi short story out: "Forced Intelligence" if either one sounds like something you'd be into. I've read the novel, it's pretty entertaining.

So I'm impressed with myself. This post didn't take an entire week to write! Guess all the extra writing I've been doing really has been paying off. Now if only I had time to work on the novel...

Anyhoo thanks once again, faithful readers, for reading. Until next time, happy writing!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writing Dry Spell, Book Review, And Other Happenings.

Good morning, faithful readers.

I guess I'm getting to the point where I need to deviate from posting up articles exclusively about fiction craft in favor of something a little more personal just so I can get any post out at all. Don't worry, I'm still keeping this relevant to the subject at hand. Writing's a journey, right? You might as well hear a bit about mine.

Lately I've been going through a writing dry spell. I blame my day job, my many social involvements, and the writing workshop I attended at Timegate. The day job has become ultimately boring and tedious. My job title is copywriter, but with the shortage of time and people, I haven't done any writing for it for at least the past 3-4 months. I realize that it's time to start looking for a new job and I've been working on a writing sample for a game developer position near Seattle. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends and the steampunk/geek community here in Atlanta. However it's got d*ck all when it comes to jobs in my field outside of temp-work.

My social life has gotten thoroughly busier. Starting one's writing career is not only about writing, it's about the connections one makes in life. It's about how to market oneself. I am a steampunk enthusiast. My novel takes place in a steampunk setting. Therefore, through certain very good friends of mine, I have been getting more involved in the steampunk community here in Atlanta and elsewhere. I'm currently helping my friend, Doctor Q put together the Mechanical Masquerade, a huge steampunk-themed masquerade ball in November (by the way, he's also putting on a Wild West themed event on July 23rd; if you're in the Atlanta area, check it out!). I've also started writing articles for his news site, The Steampunk Chronicle. Actually the reason why I started writing this post today was to garner some attention for my book review on there of Caitlin Kittredge's The Iron Thorn.  Other than that, I guess I've been out and about more to escape the now quiet darkness of my apartment--my only company my cat as I sit among wall decorations and furniture that are not even mine. But I've also found that being social is expensive, which is also why I'm learning to cope and stay home. The fact that I'm also preparing to go to the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade in two weeks helps. Sewing and Netflix work wonders for one's mind.

The writing workshop at Timegate proved to not be all that helpful, instructor-wise. Now mind you, I am learning on how to accept criticism and not take it personally, but I also am able to tell when a person does or does not have any business teaching. There is a difference between constructive criticism and personal attacks, the instructor didn't seem to know it. Also in a market where books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane and the Damned, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell often make it to the bestseller lists, how can someone honestly claim that no one writes or reads the Victorian style anymore? Really I ended up getting better advice from the participants of the workshop, and also found a new beta reader who's just been plain awesome so far. If you're reading this, hun, I will get you the next chapter soon! I just want to clean it up a little first.

I do admit the workshop has done a bit of a number on my self-esteem as a writer, making me constantly question my skill as a writer. I'm working on getting over it, though. Beer helps. Remembering the coolest moment from the workshop for me also helps. The guy who read my chapter aloud turned out to be a voice actor and not only did he enjoy it, but the way he read each character sounded almost exactly like the way they sounded in my head while writing it. To think that he was able to hear what I heard does make me feel worlds better.

As far as I'm concerned, I really should just file the instructor of that workshop away with the possible internet trolls I'll probably need to deal with once my books get out on the market. An instructor should be supportive and inspire you to improve your writing, not attempt to swear you off of it. As much as I knock on my previous creative writing professor, she has always been supportive of her students' work. She doesn't always understand my work, and who could blame her without being all that versed in genre fiction. However, I am thankful for her, especially when I was lucky to have her working with me when I can't imagine what sort of headache the Timegate instructor's students in Missouri have to go through with her on a daily basis. I imagine beer helps.

In case you missed the link, click here to read my book review for Caitlin Kittredge's The Iron Thorn!

Until next time, happy writing!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Brain Went To Hawaii, And All I Got Was This Lousy Blog Post! Or:The Mental Journey in Fiction

Welcome back, faithful readers!
I should really stop offering up excuses for putting up posts so late. With the frequency of lateness lately (that was horrible, I know), I might as well just say this: expect some time between posts. I’m a busy woman as of the moment. Being single again does that to you, oddly enough. Anyway before I accidentally open that can of  hyperactive space worms, I'll just go ahead and address what I'll be talking about in this post: travel within the mind in fiction.

Pictured: The Mental Weekend Road Trip

Now the simplest way I can explain what this concept is is the run of the mill, character-learns-something-about-something plot device. You know how it goes: the main character is on top of the world, has everything, but has some fatal flaw to their personality that will lead to his or her ruin, goes through a series of events, and then either overcomes or comes to peace with that fatal flaw. Though when I say character, I don't necessarily just mean one character. The subject can be one person, two people, hell, even a whole society of people. Heck, the subject doesn't even have to be on top of the world, they could be in a rough place, they could be in search of something, they could even be dead for that matter! It really is up to you as long as you remember that a journey within the mind often results in learning something from the events on the journey. As moralistic as this type of journey is, it doesn't always have to appear preachy or dangerously close to being a cliche!

And you shall know me as Fuzzy Jesus!

Now that you already get the idea that a character can take a mental journey by learning something, let me give you another mental nugget to chew on: the character (subject) does not need to learn a damn thing!

Mmm, tasty mental nuggets!


How is this possible, you may ask? Easy, you make the reader learn something. Every action has a consequence within a series of events. If your character becomes faced with a circumstance that should change their way of thinking and doesn't learn anything about it, make the consequences appropriate for the action. The consequences speak for themselves and will affect the reader just as well as any active choice the characters make for themselves.

Pictured: Learning how to just let go!

Now I'm going to pause right now before I raise any more eyebrows. "What is the whole purpose of including a teaching aspect at all in your fiction?" you may ask. There are a number of such purposes, and you may pick and choose them based off of what you want to do with your novel. However, the most crucial aspect has little to do with learning, morals, or any other teaching cliche that would normally cause any self-respecting reader to cringe. Being conscious of every element of your story as you're writing it and how it will affect the mental journey of the character or reader presents a valuable, realistic aspect to your writing.

Novels do not have to read like a text book or a manual. Heck, what is learned within a story doesn't even have to be all that important. Sometimes your characters, plot, and setting will take on a life of their own and by presenting them realistically, by having them react to each other realistically, they may even teach you something that you never even thought was there. Think the novel as a sort of a thought experiment in that manner. Believe it or not, in working on my current novel, I had the chance to reexamine certain aspects of my own personality and some of my relationships with certain people simply because I was watching them in the forms of my characters, but as an outsider.

That's right, squirt, I don't need you and your football snatching ways anymore!

In that sense, and forgive me for rambling, the story is also different for every person who reads it. Don't believe me? Think of any time you've watched a film interpretation of one of your favorite books. Are they ever what you expect them to be? Most likely not because the director often identifies with some aspect of the work that you did not. A good example of this is Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl and how the Hollywood and BBC film versions of it differed heavily from each other (and to some readers--myself included--the source material). The Hollywood presentation focused mostly on the relationship between the sisters, the BBC version focused mostly on the personal feelings and motivations of the characters.

Why do you think English classes are so frustrating when it comes to interpreting literature? Especially when other people pick up on elements that you didn't even notice in the book? Sometimes you're not paying attention, but more than likely you simply did not identify personally with that aspect. A death in a book is going to resonate much more with someone who's lost somebody close to them than someone who has not. To get around this while reading, but more importantly while writing, the imagination is key. You must take a mental journey of your own.
Place yourself in the situation of the character, how would you feel if in that situation--and every event leading up to that situation. Now think of the character you already created, are they used to being able to fix everything in a situation they have no control over? What does an event actually do to them on a mental and emotional level? Empathy, imagination, and research are key. Read often and pay attention. The journey of the mind is not just a journey in your own mind, but also in the minds of others--real AND fictional.

Attention faithful readers! Due to much (ok, very little) coercion on Laura Fitzgerald's part, I am now on Twitter! Click here to see shorter, more frequent ramblings of mine on writing, geekery, or whatever happens to cross my mind after a whiskey sour or two!

In the meantime, happy writing!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Writing Without the Baggage Fees! On Travel in Fiction.

Plot Junkie here, back after a long weekend trip visiting Laura Fitzgerald up in NYC. Fun was had in heaps, and yours truly had the opportunity to walk around and hang out in one of her favorite publishing houses. I think I also spent too much money in the garment district to feed my costuming addiction!
Anyhoo, now vacation is over (and now I can take a breather from my day job), it's time to get back to blogging. So what better subject to discuss than the aspect of travel in fiction?

As I've said in previous posts, a story is (or at least should be!) a journey. Whether it is physically, mentally, or even spiritually, there is some sort of travel involved from point A to point B. To make sure I'm not trying to squash too much into one post, let's talk about the physical aspect of travel in fiction today.

So don't panic and remember your towel!

Now the one of the most natural ways of this aspect is travel in the literal sense. As I've mentioned in a previous post, the setting has a whole life of its own. First of all, to keep the location relevant to your story, you need a reason for the story to be there. I don't just mean because the place is cool, because yeah, it's going to be cool. Are they to meet someone? Are they on a pilgrimage? Will there be an altercation with the bad guys there? Why there? You need to question why this particular location is important or you may find your story beginning to fall to the dreaded realm of gimmicks.


You may as well take 'em here! It'll cost less!

Now that you have your destination and purpose in mind, it's time to explore. The whole point of traveling is to escape the mundane and experience a place and culture of which you are unfamiliar with. Think back to trips you've taken previously, which ones were more enjoyable? The ones you were herded around from tourist trap to tourist trap on a set schedule? Or the ones where you perhaps explored a little and discovered little hole in the wall places that exemplified the heart and lifeblood of the location? Think about this while writing. While you may wish to have your characters explore exotic or famous locations, not only is it important for there to be a reason why your characters are there (ex: an important plot point), but you must also keep in mind that the culture or environment may influence that reason and the next course of action. Obviously you should do some research into the local customs, beliefs, and history. I find that traveling blogs and documentaries are great resources for finding out about the hidden gems of a locale where you can see the real character of the place.


Even Twoflower knows to consult a guidebook!

Consider your characters and how they might react to such a place, and also how that place may react to them. Not every personality is going to fit in to a locale. Some personalities make take a shine to the place. How do the characters cope with the different circumstances? All of these considerations are great to have because it'll add a whole new level to your story where your filler material has actual purpose. Heck, you may even discover potential for continuing side plots from the people and situations your character meets while abroad. The possibilities are endless!

Now mind you traveling does not always equal the destination, it also includes the trip along the way. These days this concept may be a little difficult to grasp when plane flights can have you anywhere within only a few hours. However when I think of some of the road trips I've been on over the past few years, the stories of what happened along the way often were as interesting, if not more than what happened at the destination.

Come on, you would stop too if you saw this on the side of the road!

The same works for your fiction. There will always be some person, some place, or some thing en route that will grab your notice or attention. Remember of course to make it relevant to the plot, the character, or even theme of your story. Including tidbits like these will draw out the journey and give the reader the sense they are also traveling with the character, which is always fun if executed properly.

Another aspect of travel in the physical sense is that of time travel.

You called?
Now, swooning over the hawtness of Matt Smith aside, time travel is a bit of a tricky thing to deal with in fiction. Not only do you need to deal with knowing and understanding certain periods of history to make it believable, you also need to think of what the characters do to blend in (or not!) to survive in a world that's not like their own on so many levels. You also need to take into account of what the characters may or may not do upon the knowledge of what has happened, or what will happen in accordance to their own time. Dr. Who often makes up for this problem with the aspect of  "wibbly-wobbly-timey-whimy stuff" in that certain periods in time can be rewritten and it would not interrupt too heavily with the future. Also the show works with the aspect of alternate timelines and universes where inconsistencies all make sense (even if very little) and is still enjoyable. There are still so many aspects to cover on time travel that I may go over in another post, but the key is to remember that it shouldn't be your deus ex machina. Like I said, time travel is tricky and you need to have it well planned out before attempting to bring it in to save a story, otherwise your readers will call you out on it, and you can either expect rolling eyes or uncomfortable questions at convention panels.

Well now that I've finally finished this post days after starting it, I want to thank you, my faithful readers, for continuing to read my ramblings. Also thank you for putting up with my geeky photo choices! Next post I will discuss the aspect of travel within the mind and emotions of a character, so keep an eye out! Hopefully I won't be as swamped at work as I have been of late to get it quicker to you this time.
In the meantime, happy writing!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Literarily Sneaking Into the Women's Lockerroom!: On Gender and POV


Courtesy of the Internet.

One post down, another to go. Also if there's anything other writing and storytelling issues you would like me to address, feel free to e-mail me anytime at plotjunkie at gmail dot com. Today I will be answering Livingsword's request to address the issue of writing in someone of the opposite gender's point of view.

I will admit now that I was pretty stumped for a little while when I received this request. It was not necessarily because I have trouble doing this, myself. Actually it was more along the lines of that I don't have much trouble at all. I don't want to sound conceited, but that's the truth of it. I suppose I had never really thought about it all that thoroughly. Keep in mind, I am no expert. If anything you are also helping me out by prompting me to analyze what I do to get past the issue. By being aware of what, how, and why you are able to do something enables you to learn much more and only gives you room to improve.

That aside I can understand why POV from a different gender is a bit of a stumbling block. Men and women do think and speak differently. According to studies, the brains of men and women are built and wired differently for processing and communicating information and emotions. Does that mean that they all act and think the same as each other? Heck no! The key to getting past that issue is realizing that.

People have different priorities, personalities, and pasts. What sort of features does the character you want to portray have? Writing in a different point of of view is not necessarily putting yourself into another's situation. It's putting yourself into the other's situation and emulating what they would do given their opinions, background, disposition, personality, etc.


I don't say "shoes" because not everyone can walk in heels.

The trick is to fully understand what motivates your character. Was your female character entered into hundreds as beauty pageants as a child? Then that character may have set rules for what beauty is and may also abhor imperfection in the world out of her own insecurities. Was your male character raised by women only? Then there's a possibility he responds and empathizes with women better than men, and depending on how he related with his family, may resolve to verbal battles rather than physical altercations when faced with a problem. Given his or her personality, how is your character likely to respond when presented with a serious problem?

One of the simplest ways I can think of to properly write POV is to just read and keep reading. Try to find books that have characters that are similar to the ones you want to portray, listen to their voices, study their actions, and pay attention to their backgrounds and personalities. Another way is to pick someone you know that you may want to base a character on and talk to them, get to know them, learn their opinions on anything. Actually a pretty interesting trick I've noticed in books is how a person's speech patterns often sound similar to what they are thinking. Have an existing character in your story that you want to write a POV scene for? Listen to what they say and write to match them! Though noticing what a person doesn't say is also just as important. A person's physical movements often also speak volumes about what they are thinking or how they are thinking it. Does the person smile a lot, but have a hard time maintaining eye contact? How does the person's face look while being herded through a crowd?

Am I saying that you should avoid gender stereotypes and tropes altogether? Once again, heck no! Feel free to add stereotypes to your fullest desire, but have a reason for that trope to be there otherwise your character is not going to make a lick of sense. For example, take Padme from Star Wars: Episodes 1-3. Can anyone explain to me how she goes from a fourteen year old strong, calculating QUEEN OF AN ENTIRE PLANET with wisdom far beyond her years,

Essentially, this.
to a needy twenty-seven year old with the sensibilities of a boy-obsessed teeny-bopper?

...to this
The only explanation I can think of is the writer succumbing to a misplaced gender stereotype. How the heck does a woman who has seen several wars with the death count in the thousands, who has stood up to and held her own against politicians from all across the galaxy, who has on more than one occasion survived almost certain death, and who has just given birth to two healthy children who have all the potential to save the universe decide to let herself die because OH MAI GAWD MY HUSBAND IS EVIL AND TRIED TO KILL ME?

It's probably for this reason why many women complain that men can't write realistic female characters and vise versa. I think what often happens is that we are so consumed by the idea that the opposite gender is "not like me" that we often forget they too are real people with their own priorities and ways of dealing with them, despite the potential genetic disposition. While studies have shown that men and women's brains technically work differently, they also do show that the way we are is more likely to follow the course of nurture over nature. Granted, it will take some time to get a hang of this, and if you're still having a hard time, try this as practice: start writing a scene from a first person's point of view. Do NOT assign a name or gender yet. When you are finished, decide on the two and elaborate (or take away) from there depending on how you want to further develop the character. That way you will have the basic structure of the human being before deciding what makes that being a man or a woman.

Or both...

Well, I've just run my brain through the gauntlet! Hopefully my ramblings will make sense to you or I've given you something to work with. Of course feel free to continue the discussion in the comments section. I'd like to get other people's take on this as well since I haven't given much thought to it previously.