My MC is an assassin by trade and has a military background - sniper, Special Ops, etc. He was raised partly by his sister after their parents died in a car accident. He normally listens to her as she is often right and the long habits of a lifetime are very hard to break.

He sees his female coworkers predominantly as coworkers and is moderately surprised to find some of them regard him differently.

He has wit, education and sophistication. He drives very nice cars, loves the finer things in life. He has a passion for marksmanship and has been in training since childhood, which set him on the path he took.

He shows courage and is a gentleman. He still listens to his sister and always heeds the advice of others when it is in their field of expertise.

He has resolved to wait to look for love until after he retires as he envisions some Ms Right running for the hills when the conversation turns to profession. He would rather tell such that while he has a chequered past, that is the past.

I have been writing this for a year and have just shy of seven hundred pages of the adventures of my assassin. I see him clearly, but wonder if I might not be running the risk of men reading it, putting it down thinking some woman wrote it and just doesn’t get it.

My question to the gents out there is how best to balance a well brought up gentleman assassin and avoid the ‘written by a woman’ feel?

  • 8
    I'm a little lost on how this character might be a "wuss". Could you go into more detail as to why you think this is a potential problem? Perhaps a specific example of something you think would turn off male readers and why. Dec 1, 2018 at 1:59
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    @eyeballfrog I was reading some of the answers to the how to write a male protagonist and found some saying that men look at women as potential mates and have little choice in the matter no matter how they might gloss it over. My MC has put such on hold. Perhaps that is my doubt
    – Rasdashan
    Dec 1, 2018 at 2:54
  • 9
    I suggest you get out of stereotypes.
    – rus9384
    Dec 1, 2018 at 11:09

4 Answers 4


I'm not sure why this is even an issue, being frank. Plenty of men can and are gentle by nature. Heck, I'm one of them. I'm much more introspective and concerned with emotions than a stereotypical man, I seek comfort about as often as I seek solutions, my sex drive is abysmally low, and I have a nurturing side that makes me good with children.

Now I'm sure plenty of men would consider me a wuss, but they're not exactly the sorts of men with the patience to read a book. After all, the same men who demonise slightly gentler men as being effeminate or 'wussy' are also the sorts of men that consider reading fiction a woman's activity, that is to say, sexists.

Gentle men exist all over, and yes, even in gruesome professions. They may also have high tolerance of things that may surprise people that solely judge them by their gentleness. For example, given my 'wussy' traits, you probably assume I'm afraid of gore, correct? Well, that's very far from the truth. Not only did I do a degree with plenty of dissections and enjoyed fishing trips with my granddad in which we'd have to gut fish, but I actually have an acute fascination with seeing what creatures are made of. Gore is comfortable to me.

So I think that a male assassin can be, by nature, gentler than a stereotypical stoic brute. Gentle men in nasty professions exist everywhere.


Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series addresses this issue in an interesting way. The main character, male, single, and in his late twenties in the start of the series, very much notices the looks of the women around him. That is, the stories are narrated in first person, and whenever a new female character is introduced, we are treated to a "male gaze", sometimes with "the MC's pants suddenly being too small".

At the same time, half those female characters are supernatural beings who would make the MC's life very unpleasant given half a chance (or very pleasant and very short), and the one character who could potentially be a Romantic Interest - she's a good friend, but first she's seeing someone else, and then she says no, and he cares about her as a friend - that's enough. So, while the MC notices the women around him as attractive, this particular thought doesn't translate into action. Personally, I find this approach very realistic. I mean, I notice attractive guys. Doesn't mean I go making a fool of myself every time a good-looking man passes by, right?

Since you mention your MC believes no "Ms. Right" would date him due to his profession, you can give some room to his regrets on the matter. He might come to interact with a woman he might have loved (or thinks he might have), but he wouldn't even flirt with her because he "knows" how it would end. Or he might feel a pang of jealousy observing a couple kissing under a street light. Cyrano de Bergerac, in Edmond Rostand's eponymous play, mentions how he feels when he sees couples walking in a garden, and "knows" he can never have that, being as ugly as he is.

Which all comes down to, your character is not looking for sex right now, he might not see it as a possibility right now, but that doesn't mean he can't ever think about it, in one form or another.

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    Probably also worth pointing out that in the Dresden Files, a lot of those female characters are unearthly beauties who feed off those desires (particularly the White Court characters and certain Fae).
    – user18397
    Dec 1, 2018 at 13:51

One alternative is to let him indulge in sex without love or romance. Especially in modern times, there are at least some women that want the same; there are apps for that.

for example the vast majority of adults that marry do not marry virgins, and do not marry their first sexual partner. That has been true for me and all my family and friends I know about, and even my female friends that are gay. (USA, I can't speak for other countries). There can be exceptions, of course, I just don't know any.

The point is that it is not unusual. As post-pubescent teens multiple evolutionary mechanisms are pushing hard for us to have sex and reproduce, including by brain manipulation causing us to be more rebellious, impulsive and emotional than we are reasonable, patient or rational; thus much more likely to ignore consequences and "live in the moment". This agenda succeeds. There's research! Sex and Youth, by Bob Altemeyer, a Manitoba university psychologist, "Secret Surveys" of 1st year college students, average age 19, thousands of subjects spanning twenty-four years. (The "Secret Survey" is a clever way of guaranteeing the respondents anonymity in their answers.)

75% of women engage in masturbation at a mean age of 14.2; and 73% (by age 19) have had first sexual intercourse, at a mean age of 16.2. For men, masturbation is again the youngest age (99%, mean age 13.1), but only 53% (by age 19) had engaged in sexual intercourse, those at a mean age of 16.6. 85% had engaged in sexual petting of some sort or another.

Your male protagonist can be eschewing romance, without getting rid of sex altogether. Without being explicit you can suggest he resorts to masturbation to relieve sexual tension, with or without pornography (approximately 100% of men have been masturbating since puberty).

Or perhaps that he has sexual pick-ups away from home, or is reasonably skilled at finding women seeking casual sex, either using modern Internet apps or the old-fashioned way, in bars.

Personally I find the idea of a man waiting until he is forty or fifty to have sex extremely implausible, and not in a good way. Meaning, I don't think this situation would indicate any mastery of self-control in a man, but something more akin to a mental illness, a phobia, or denial of homosexuality, or religious obsession, or some other psychological problem. I think the drive is too strong, particularly in the ages between puberty and 28 years.


What happens if Ms Right discovers MC is an assassin? What might be her reaction? Won't she regard him a vigilante or a domestic terrorist?

If you are looking for dialogue ideas for MC, read comments by men in mgtow communities. You'll learn their real masculine language, nothing too blue-pilled that would put your male readers off. See their comments in mgtow channels, also in Facebook groups. Your male readers can shun your books, if they see your gentleman MC as too "blue-pilled" for a white knight. If you spend a long time studying mgtow channels, you'll learn real psychology there.

(Add, I am not saying that your MC should be like mgtow. I am just hinting that your male readers are living in a changing world today and their attitudes are changing in this century, gradually or slowly.)

Yesterday, I was reading comments by men in Mind Core, a group in Facebook. Members there were shown a photo of a beautiful blonde woman in a red short, hugging a horse that hugged her back with his foreleg. Men there were commenting mostly on her dress and figure, while forgetting her face and hair.

(Add — here, I suggest you should at times test male audience to your written prompts and illustrations. Learn real psychology that way.)

You see, men are changed in this century as too women. Mgtow communities are fast changing men, as much as feminism is changing women.

Perhaps, you could write your MC as an uncouth mgtow and Ms Right as a snooty lady. Both could smoothen out each other's flaws.

  • I think you misunderstand: there is no Ms. Right. There's only the MC's image of how Ms. Right would act. Also, we usually try to keep our language family-friendly here - we have 14-years-old community members, and the people who read those pages are even younger. You can edit your post to express the same ideas in a different manner. And, one last point: while MGTOW communities exist, they're not the only real men in the world, are they? When you say "If you spend a long time studying mgtow channels, you'll learn real men's mindset", you imply that they are. Dec 1, 2018 at 12:15
  • Galastel, I forgot about 14 year olds. I thought this writer was targeting at older aged audience. My apology. Dec 1, 2018 at 12:46
  • I editted post as you suggested. Dec 1, 2018 at 12:54
  • Much better. :) Writing.SE is targeted at an older audience, mostly, but teenagers do write, and we don't tell people to go away. Due to legal concerns, site policy is you have to be 13+ to have an account. However, I have seen questions starting with "I am 14...", and I have seen such questions from users who have had an account for over two years. We even have a young-author tag. Dec 1, 2018 at 17:04

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