Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Male or female author? You vote!

Okay, so Clare's post about male versus female writing inspired me to put it to a vote--contest time! You vote whether the the authors of some writing snippets are male or female. You have to post a comment to win. The prize will be my favorite Indie Bookstore tee shirt:

If it's a tie, the tee shirt goes to the first person to guess the most correctly. Everyone who posts will get a Kill Zone bookmark, if you send me your address! I'll announce the winners next Tuesday. (Please--No spoilers if you know the author!)

A warm Friday night in April, the air still and perfumed by lilacs.
Emily had to pee. I fingered her leash as she circled and sniffed the ground for whatever peculiar scent would tell her she had found the right spot.
Peter was on his way out the lane. He slowed his old Volvo and thrust his left arm through the open window in greeting. “Hi, Em,” he called.
I returned his wave and watched the wagon’s lights trail away. Emily cocked her ears as she squatted in the dust.
She would have preferred that we continue on for a walk but I was eager to get back inside, where my wife waited for me with chilled pepper vodka, a video-cassette, and a cozy spot on the couch.

Captain Frank Bentille leaned against the door jamb and stared at them. Gray and black tweed pants and a gray shirt hung loosely on his gangly frame, making him look like a greyhound long retired from the track. The striped tie had a red spot from some recent meal. His close-set eyes were dwarfed by the dense brows that nearly met each other over his nose.

The sound came at us like a prizefighter’s punch—a thundering, out-of-nowhere explosion tha shook the earth and nearly deafened us.
I stood frozen, unable to comprehend what had happened. A cloud of dust and debris suddenly billowed over the meadow as the echoes of the explosion continued to rattle and roar through the mountains, until soon the sound seemed to come from every side. There were other sounds too—screams and the quick crack of shots fired.


Mabel wanted to follow the sleepy kiss—even cupped Em’s tiny, pert breasts with the rosehip nipples—but she had business to take care of. Baby Emma was twenty but easily passed for ten or eleven. The girl-child seemed built of warm and creamy vanilla scoops, and the blond ringlets curling in a tangle around her face looked like thick caramel drippings. Mable touched her lips again, softly, not wanting to wake the young woman too quickly.


The hair! It was fair, sun-bleached brown with shades of red, still showing a distinct ripply wave. Six swaths had been gathered at the crime scene and brought to the his laboratory. Kyle placed them on a windowsill, where, when he glanced up from his exceedingly close work with tweezers and bits of bone, he could see them clearly. The longest swath was seven inches. The victim had worn her hair long, to her shoulders. From time to time, Kyle reached out to touch it.

Gerald Kelley was as Irish as one could be and still live in Boston and not Dublin. His hair was reddish blond and thick and curly despite the fact that he was fifty-four years old. His face had a ruddy hue, almost as if he wore theatrical makeup, especially over the crests of his cheekbones.
Kelley’s most notable feature and by far the dominant aspect of his profile was his enormous paunch. Every night three bottles of stout contributed to its awe-inspiring dimensions. For the last few years it had been pointed out that when Kelley was vertical, his belt buckle was horizontal.

So once I figured out I was in the trunk of a car, I remembered the blue Civic and from there it was a swift re-connect the dots to Jesse and Sam and the girl with the briefcase.
I also remembered that I had been shot, or thought I had. It obviously hadn't been by a very good shot, since I was still around to worry about it, but it did seem fairly pressing that get some sort of medical attention. I felt like someone was digging a fork around my right side just below the arm pit and it hurt like hell if I took a deep breath.

Examine your own writing for male vs. female "traits"

While I was looking for excerpts to try to trip you all up, I found a site where you can enter your writing and find out whether your writing is more "male" or "female." The site runs your writing through an algorithm of some sort to determine your score:

I ran a section of my own writing through it, and my score was slightly more "male" than "female." Who'd a thunk it? Try running your writing through it and let us know the results!


  1. I love this, Kathryn!!!
    Ok, here are my best guesses:
    But any of these were just coin tosses...

  2. Thanks, Michelle! I had fun pcking out sections to post.

  3. Super hard.


    I found three and four the hardest. Still, had no real idea.


  4. Ms. Lilley, thanks so much for that link! It's given me a little confidence. I entered two passages, both third person. The first, from the POV of my male protag, came up male. The second, from the POV of his wife, was overwhelmingly female. Awesome!

    Oh, here are my guesses:
    1 - Female
    2 - Male
    3 - Male
    4 - Female
    5 - Female
    6 - Female
    7 - Male

    No real clue about any of them, just a gut feeling. What a cool thing to try!

  5. That's great news, Jake! That underscores the fact that you've been able to get inside your characters' heads in a way that comes across!
    JJ, thanks for your votes! Stand by for next week's "Big Reveal"!

  6. Here's my shot.

    Wow...hard stuff. Let's see if that psychology prof knew what he was talking about...or if I paid close enough attention

    1 F
    2 F
    3 M
    4 M
    5 F
    6 M
    7 F

  7. Good guesses, Basil! You guys are all doing better than I would have, if I hadn't picked the snippets myself!

  8. This is great Kathryn! So pleased I inspired this - but boy it's it hard. Here are my best guesses:
    1. M
    2. F
    3. M
    4. M
    5. F
    6. F
    7. M
    I will have to run some writing through the gender genie and see what comes out!

  9. So I ran some of my work through the gender genie and I was far more male than female - so the gender genie says that I am male.
    Who would have ever guessed!

  10. Mine too, Clare! From the author's original paper that inspired the Gender genie, they say, "female writing exhibits greater usage of
    features identified by previous researchers as "involved" while male writing exhibits greater
    usage of features which have been identified as "informational". Lots of interesting reading there! Don't know if I agree with all of it, but fascinating nonetheless!

  11. Regardless of what the Gender Bender thingy says...judging by your profile photos neither of you ladies looks the least bit "Bloke-ish" to me.


  12. Thanks, Basil! I'm 100 percent "bloke-etteish."!

  13. Thanks Basil - I'm not planning on a sex change any time either:) Kathryn, I thought it was funny that we're both 'blokes' as far as our writing goes - I know my books are regarded as much more 'chick-lit' than bloke lit but I'm pleased I fooled the gender genie!

  14. It's a bit of a crap shot, but here are my picks:

    #1- M
    #2- F
    #3- F
    #4- M
    #5- F
    #6- M
    #7- F

    Can't wait to see the big reveal next week!

  15. Hi Crimogenic! Thanks for stopping by and voting--love the handprint!

  16. Huh. Entered three different samples, and got mixed results. The first was decidedly female, while the second and third came out male. Interesting, since they're all three from a first person female perspective.

    Don't think I'm going to try to guess on the samples you posted, though. Don't think my brain's working that well right now, lol!

  17. It was very interesting for me to read that article. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.

    Best wishes
    Steave Markson