There you are, a man trying to write female characters or a woman trying to write men. How do you make them believable?
You can fall back on stereotypes. You can lift from your favorite book, TV, or movie characters. Or you can connect to the “other” in your own spirit.
Now, don’t get discouraged; I’m not going “airy-fairy” on you. I’m talking about reaching into the depths of your writer’s psyche and recognizing that you can, if you allow yourself to, get in touch with the opposite gender that resides in us all.
Very few people are all male or all female. Except for those few creatures who live on the extreme ends of the male-female spectrum that ranges from Sweet Young Thing to Manly Man, all women have at least some male sensibilities, just as all men have at least some female sensibilities. It’s only our fear of acknowledging and accepting those attributes that prevent us from having full access to our internal opposites.
Try it! Change your protagonist’s gender. See where it takes you. Don’t default to how you think the opposite gender would view the circumstances. Give yourself permission–as an artist, as a right-brained creator–to be the other gender, to experience the situation as someone with different sexual organs, thought processes, agendas, perspectives, and motivations, someone devoid of your own gender’s stereotypes, prejudices, and preconceptions.
Let me know what happens. Bet it nudges your creativity in ways you never thought possible…