He Said, She Said - writercize #24 (A to Z 8)

It is a widely accepted notion that men and women speak two different languages. 

In the book The Female Brain by Dr. Louann Brizendine, the author refers to studies finding that women use about 20,000 words per day whereas men use about 7,000.

Simply not true, says sciencemag.org that published the findings of another study in 2007 on how many words the average human speaks daily.  The abstract states: "Women are generally assumed to be more talkative than men. Data were analyzed from 396 participants who wore a voice recorder that sampled ambient sounds for several days. Participants' daily word use was extrapolated from the number of recorded words. Women and men both spoke about 16,000 words per day."

Even if we accept the notion that men and women speak the same number of words each day, John Gray's bestselling book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus points out that men and women differ in their approach to communication.  He says that men speak to communicate needs and data while women speak to communicate feelings and emotions, that men process their thoughts before speaking and women process their thoughts while speaking.

If Gray's assertions are true, I must admit that I speak more like a man.  I may write like a woman, at times quite verbose, but conversation wise, I probably lean towards the masculine side of things.  

In my household, my husband and I literally do speak two different languages - his native tongue being Italian and mine English.  We go through many days speaking some form of Itanglish - mixing the two languages mid-conversation, sometimes even mid-sentence.  Throw in a couple of preschoolers and our house is a linguistic hodgepodge!  Somehow we find a way through the differences and generally find a meeting of the minds along the way.

So, how does all of this relate to writing? - you may ask.  Here's the deal - when you create a character in a book, you want their voice to sound as authentic as possible.  Study the nuances of male and female conversation and how they relate to one another - how men speak with other men, how women speak with other women and how men and women speak to one another.  There are very distinct styles and you want the characters in your book to reflect that.
writing exercise:  Write a short dialogue between each of the following characters, given the circumstances:
  • two men - want to get together to watch sports and have a drink
  • two women - want to pick a restaurant
  • one man / one woman - looking through "for rent" ads (can be couple or roommates)

(Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.)
writercizer response:

1 - Two men - sports / drink
ring, ring
"Hey, what's up?"
"Nothin' much - just hangin'.  You?
"Bout the same.  The Lakers are playing the Knicks tonight - want to head down to Paddy's and catch the game?  Knock a couple back?"
"You know it.  6:30?"
"Be there."

2 - Two women - restaurant
strolling along a boutique-lined street
"Mmm ... I'm feeling a little hungry and that cafe' smelled so good.  Do you want to grab something to eat?  We could relax and chat a while.  Get off our feet."
"Sure, I have a couple hours to spare.  What do you feel like?"
"I'm not sure.  I was out for Indian a couple days ago at this place about a block away.  It was really good, but I don't know if I feel like Indian again.  What do you feel like?  Thai?  Japanese?  Burgers?  I heard there's a really good bistro down the street - cute interior, lots of artwork up on the walls, famously handsome waiters.  Or maybe we should just get some Tapas and sangria... what do you think?"
"That all sounds so good.  I don't really mind one way or the other.  Actually, I did see this program on Oprah about fish after natural disasters, and I'm not so sure about the pollution in the ocean these days, what with the earthquakes and tsunamis and floating fish - so maybe Japanese is out for today.  What about that crepe place?"
"Oh, yeah, I forgot about that one!  That's cute - they always have nice flowers and good wine.  But it can be a little loud for conversation and there's usually a line.  I don't know if I feel like waiting."
"Good point - maybe we should just keep walking and stop wherever our noses follow us.  Or there's always the brewery."
"Yeah, that's a good menu.  I always see something I like.  But I'm sort of thinking of something a little more quaint.  You know what I mean?"
"Totally - ok, let's head down the block.  I'm sure we'll see something that looks cute and smells good, and we'll just stop in there.  Sound good?"
"Perfect, let's walk."

3 - man/woman - "for rent"
W: "Oooh - look at this one!  It says it's a cute home with a garden and fireplace.  Let's check it out."
M: "Cute means small.  How much?"
W: "Umm, it's about $75 over our budget, but if we cut back a little on entertainment we could make it work.  It looks like it has potential!"
M: "Small and expensive?  Let's keep looking.  I don't want to cut back on the TV package.  You know me - I need my movies and sports.  Oh, here's one - 3 bed / 3 bath, a couple hundred under budget, says big."
W: "Where?"
M: "Just off of 52nd and Lovett St."
W: "Over there.  No way!  I don't want a neighborhood I can't walk around in.  You have to use a car to get anywhere."
M: "Now we're in a walking neighborhood and you never walk.  What's the difference?"
W: "The difference is I could walk and choose not to; if we were there I wouldn't have the choice.  I just wouldn't feel like I was at home living there.  Ok?"
M: "Yeah, but we could save for a house or vacation living there.  And it's really big!  Isn't that worth it?"
W: "Nope.  We're better here.  Maybe we should just stay - it's a little small but we can make it work."
M: "You were the one who wanted to look for a new place!  I'm looking for you.  I don't care where we are."
W: "Well, if that's all that's out there, I think I changed my mind, ok?"
M: "Alright.  Well, just keep your eyes open - if we see something we both like we'll check it out.  Now, where should we go for lunch?"


  1. Great post and very helpful exercises! Thank you for sharing the statistics as well. Very interesting. I'm stopping by from the A to Z challenge and I look forward to reading more from you.

  2. Thanks so much Sylvia! I will definitely be checking out your blog as well. This A to Z challenge is such a great way to find out about fellow bloggers. :)

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog so I could find yours! Great post and a very useful writing exercise, thank you :)

  4. Sounds like fun! I'm not a writer by any means, but I think this exercise will help my brain shake off some rust.

    1. two men - want to get together to watch sports and have a drink:

    Ring, ring.
    "What's up worthless?"
    "What's up Llama face. Game's on tonight. You're dead if you are not there."
    "What time bro?"
    "OK. Late."

  5. 2. Two women - want to pick a restaurant:
    It's raining. Belinda and Ethel are standing on Main street, huddled under a large umbrella, looking at all the restaurants lining the street on both sides.

    Ethel: "I'm starving! I'm famished! I'm voracious!"
    Belinda: "Ha ha ha ha. OK,ok. What are you in the mood for?"
    Ethel: "I don't know... Everything looks so good. What do you want?"
    Belinda: "Hmmm, this cold weather is making me crave a nice hot soup."
    Ethel: "Mmmmm that sounds delicious! How about Maki Yaki? They have udon soup."
    Belinda: "No, noodles make my stomach feel bloated and I can't risk not fitting into my fabulous slim-fit jeans!"
    Ethel: "Oh that's right! You have that hot date with Mr. Shaved-Legs-Speedo-Man tomorrow."
    Belinda: "Shaving increases his speed! At least that's what he claims... Any how, can we please choose a place to eat?"
    Ethel: "Uh... I'm not hungry any more. How about some ice cream?"

  6. 3. Man & woman - looking through "for rent" ads:

    Newly weds....
    Man sitting at the kitchen table in his 100% Chinese silk robe, wearing his wife's terry cloth slippers.

    "Babe, check these homes I've circled. They are worth taking a look at."

    "Are those my slippers?"

    "Sorry, I couldn't find mine."


    "What do you think?"

    "I don't know about these..."

    "What's wrong with them? You said you wanted at least 2 bedrooms. These are two and three bedrooms."

    "Yes, but I don't like where this one is. That one there has 3 bedrooms, the neighborhood is nice, but they don't accept pets. This one here seems nice on the surface--cheap, spacious, nice neighborhood, but it's the Alderson's former home!"

    "We have to make a compromise, we can't have it all you know? Either we get rid of Flea, or we put up with loud music at night and the occasional stray bullet, or... What's wrong with the Alderson's home any way?"

    "Oh my God, did you not hear? It was everywhere! Three months ago, no wait, two and a half months ago I was having a cafe latte with the girls at The Blue Butterfly and Stephanie said that Mrs. Alderson had a mental breakdown. Apparently, Mrs. and Mr. Alderson were having financial problems after his business partner left him. Can you believe he took all their best clients with him and named his business 'The Shoppe'? With an extra 'p' and an 'e'! On top of that, she found out Mr. Alderson was having an affair with Bethany, Mrs. Alderson's close friend! Needless to say, she felt betrayed and disillusioned with her life and well, she ended it--right at the dinner table."

    "Oh man, that's tragic. I can't believe someone would shoot their brains out at the dinner table."

    "Oh no my love, she ended HIS life. And, it wasn't with a gun, but arsenic tainted meatloaf."

    "That's insane. So, what's the problem then? Why can't we rent it?"

    "Because I refuse to live where someone has died!"

    "Yeah, but it's not like it was gory."

    "That's not the point. I just don't feel right about it. Especially now that you'll be traveling a lot, I don't want to sleep by myself, all alone in a house where someone was murdered. "

    "OK, I get it.

    "Besides, this is last month's paper darling. Why don't you finish your coffee, get dressed, and we'll go house hunting on our bikes! What do you say?"

  7. Alma - not a writer. Pshaw. These are fabulous!!!!!

  8. Very interesting statistics on men and women and I loved the glimpse into your everyday life!
    I wrote these before reading your response, but find it interesting that we had similar ideas for the first two!

    Two Men -
    "Hey John! Jets are playing tonight. Want to get a beer?"
    "Sounds good. Meet you at Carl's?"

    Two Women -
    "Where do you want to go for lunch?"
    "I don't know. Where do you want to go?"
    "I don't know either. What do you feel like? Italian? Chinese? Burgers?"
    "Well, I had spaghetti last night. The kids' favorite you know? So I guess that's out."
    "Yeah, my boys love spaghetti! Especially if I make my famous spicy meatballs!"
    "Ooh! You'll have to give me the recipe for your spicy meatballs!"
    "I can email it to you!"
    "Great. So what about lunch?"
    "Right. How about Changs?"
    "Last time I went to Changs the lo mein was too salty. But I'll give it another try."
    "Let's go!"

    Man and Woman -
    "Whatcha' lookin at, Stace?"
    "The classifieds. We need to find a new place."
    "Oh, yeah? Why? What's wrong with this place?"
    "Well, for one thing, it's too small. The bathroom is cramped and there's no closet space."
    "You spend too much time in the bathroom is all."
    "You're too funny."
    "Hey this place looks cool."
    "It's got less square feet than this apartment! What's so cool about it?"
    "It's within walking distance of Carl's bar!"

  9. I'm stopping in through the A-Z Challenge as well and this is really great, love your writercizes! Looking forward to reading more. :)

  10. I'm very happy that I found this blog. I like what you're doing here.

    There definitely a voice difference between the sexes that I might have to work on later. (Four of my five main characters are male.)


  11. Brianna - interesting indeed! Lol @ Carl's Bar making an appearance twice - it's the place to be for those men in your mind! ;)

    Ella, Julie and Misha - thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I look forward to having you visit, and hopefully post often. I love to see different perspectives! I'll be checking out your sites as well - look forward to getting to know you "virtually." ;)

    Misha - wow, that's a challenge to create five main characters, let alone the majority of a different sex from your own! Is the narrator male or female? Do you have any brothers to draw from?


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