Ok, confession time:
1. Read (duh).
Read books written by authors of the opposite gender, starring protagonists of the opposite gender. See how the home team does it first. Take particular note of the characterization that seems odd to you (see step 5)
Note: You might feel odd at the bookstore, particularly if you’re a 30-something male buying books for teenaged girls. Just shrug at the scary clerk looking at you all weird and say the magic words: “They’re for my niece.”
2. Beta powerz…. ACTIVATE.
Get yourself beta readers of the opposite gender. Not the kind that “squeeeee”. I’m talking about the kind who melt paint from the walls with their crits. Arm these betas with a rubber stamp that reads WDTLT (We Don’t Think Like This). Encourage them to lay that thing down like the frackin’ hammer of Thor.
3. Abandon fear.
You may experience self-doubt when writing outside your gender. But really, unless you’re writing an autobiography, you’re always going to be writing someone different from you.
4. Familiar ground.
Start with similarities. Human beings, at their cores, are very similar regardless of gender. There are things all people want/need. Sure, the way we go about getting these things might differ, but our motivations don’t: We seek out happiness. Recoil from things that hurt us. Seek a place to belong. Friendship. Love. Joy.
5. We are very different.
There are some core differences between males and females (beyond the obvious), and you need a grasp of these before you begin.
He has a spare upper lip and a full lower lip. His eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color.
His eyes. Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven and strange.