Thursday, March 12, 2009

Write Like a Man!

Last Sept, I experienced one of the most satisfying weekends of my life when I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. Take 600 people, all connected to the book industry, put them in the same room and the place buzzes with excitement. If you ever have the chance to attend a writing conference, I urge you to take advantage of it. You will learn parts of the craft you probably never even thought about, like the one I want to talk about today.

One of the more interesting workshops I attended was put on by Rachel Hauck and closely supervised by the only male in the room, Randy Ingermanson who had taught a similar workshop in 2004. Realizing a need, Rachel used her notes from Randy’s workshop and presented this one. It was entitled, ‘You Write Like a Girl – Handling the Male POV’. The following is based on my notes of Rachel’s workshop:

Some things are the same for both genders, like wanting to be loved, safe, happy, respected, honored and successful.

But as writers who want to write using a male point of view (POV), we need to observe and listen to males in action. Some of the differences Rachel noted were:

- Men can be wounded and hurt but they won’t admit it

- Men are more visual. They’ll notice she’s wearing clothes but not the colors. And a style showing cleavage will arouse sexual thoughts at a glance.

-Men have more physiological sexual needs than women so they think about sex – a lot.

- Men have very strong egos whereas women have esteem.

- Men are thinkers whereas women are feelers

- Men want to fix things. He’ll see something broken and try to fix it. If he can’t fix it, he’ll ignore it. Women don’t always want it fixed – they just want him to listen.

Men are not complex. They are straight, simple and forward:

- a man will tell a woman he loves her only once in a scene BUT he shows her by touching, etc

- good guys will not get physical (kiss) with a girl if it seems her heart is in it while his isn’t

- If a man is really ‘into’ a woman, he’ll never be too busy too call.

- Just because a man’s been hurt before won’t stop him from going after a woman he’s really into.

When creating your hero, consider that men don’t:

- multi-task (3 things at once)

- sit on the deck and muse

- say ‘Fabulous’ or ‘terrific’

- talk more or have more internal thoughts than the heroine!

Create a hero who:

- is protector and provider

- needs to prove and express himself physically

- needs to be more aggressive

- needs adventure (Indy Jones )

- is strong (Hercules)

- has a soft/weak side (Achilles)

- reacts in a masculine way toward a problem or peers

- works through emotional scenes physically (by playing basketball)

- will give up his best friend for the love of his life

- isn’t afraid of intimacy

Research your hero:

- write a complete biography and back story

- interview men, observe and listen

- what is he afraid of and why

- give him a unique action or movement

- have him use direct dialogue

- read male authors who write romance (list at bottom of this post)

- create valid internal and external obstacles

- be careful with soft emotions like tears (3 crying scenes is too much for one book).

Use fun clich├ęs

- likes cars, computers, sports
- forgets important dates
- make ways of men different than women

In your writing:
- use strong nouns and verbs (strut)
- use shorter words and paragraphs and sentences
- avoid flowery prose
- avoid him observing his ‘well-defined’ biceps

Know your audience:

- Romance – softer male
- Speculative – blue male with 3 eyes
- Suspense – hard and driven male

For further reading, Rachel recommended the book: ‘He’s Just Not That into You” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.

Here then is a partial list of authors and the men behind them:

Devon Vaughn Archer (Kimani Romance) = R. Barri Flowers
Jean Barrett (Harlequin Intrigue) = Bob Rogers
Monica Barrie (Pocket Books/Medieval Fantasy) = David Wind
Emma Blair
(Historical Romance) = Iain Blair
Jessica Blair (Historical Romance) = Bill Spence
Madeleine Brent (Fawcett Historical Romance) = Peter O’Donnell
K N Casper (Harlequin SuperRomance/Nascar) = Ken Casper
Jenifer Dalton (Historical Romance) = David Wind
Victoria Gordon
(Harlequin Romance) = Gordon Aalborg
Leigh Greenwood (Leisure Historical Romance) = Harold Lowry
Madeleine Ker (Harlequin Romance/Presents) = Marius Gabriel
Fabio Lanzoni (Avon Historical Romance)
Edwina Marlow (Berkley Historical Romance) = Tom E Huff
Dorothea Nile (Gothic Romances) = Michael Avallone
Vanessa Royall (Dell Historical Romance) = Mike Hinkemeyer
Gill Sanderson (Mills & Boon/Harlequin Medical Romance) = Roger Sanderson
Jessica Stirling
(Historical Romance) = Hugh C Rae
Dorothy Vernon (Silhouette Romance) = C L Pearce (Charles Pearce)
Jennifer Wilde (Warner Books Historical Romance) = Tom E Huff
Leigh Anne Williams (Harlequin American Romance) = Billy Mernit
Ailson York (Harlequin Romance) = Christopher Nicole

Can you believe that list? In researching this post, 2 names took me completely by surprise:

- Fabio Lanzoni – yes, he’s the cover model of so many romances

- Love’s Tender Fury by Jennifer Wilde was an initiation for me and a guy wrote it???

Are there any names on the list that surprised you? Are there any character traits here that you don’t agree with? When was the last time you just sat there and watched a man – for research purposes, of course...


Anonymous said...

say ‘Fabulous’ or ‘terrific’

*snort* That's fabulous! :)

Karen said...

Morning Anita,
Great idea for a post.

Here's another difference: women faint, men pass out.


nichol said...

HA ! i'm gonna make my hero 'swoon' he he he. interesting post - it never hurts to get a man's opinion ... even if writing from the the female's pov. i mean really, men can be pains in the rear, which is why writing is theraputic (we can make them do what WE want) but in the end it's their manliness (which includes all their flaws) we are attracted to ... no ?

Anonymous said...

great posting Anita.I'm surprised that I was aware of most of the information you noted from the lecture. Of course, it's nice to have it written concisely.

i've been an observer of men since childhood having grown up with two brothers and lived in a neighborhood of mostly boys. i always wanted to be part of the group, so i had to BE like the boys so they wouldn't leave me behind on their adventures.

it wasn't until high school that i observed them more from a "mmmmm, cute" point of view. *grin*

as for author names, i'm not good at recognizing authors, but the Fabio one did surprise me. guess he's more than just a pretty face.

now, i'm off to check on my hero to make sure i didn't emasculate him in any way...

Tara Maya said...

Wow, that list of men writing under female names surprised me. How funny. In sf, not long ago, the situation was reversed.

Hazel said...

Thanks for all the tips, Anita. And the fascinating expose (please imagine an acute accent on that 'e') on men-writing-as-women!

I've always been concerned that I would not be able to get "inside" my hero. You have helped a lot.

Janet C. said...

Great post, Anita. I enjoyed reading about the men's perspective - I've read similar somewhere on the net, but, of course, forgot to bookmark it. My favorite is the men wanting to fix things. The Husband and I have that conversation a lot - I have to say "I'm just needing to vent, not looking for a cure!"

The men romance authors reminded my of the movie "American Dreams" with Jo Beth Williams and Tom Conti - one of my favorites. He's a writer of romance, but uses his mother as his writer self at conventions and book signings. If you haven't seen it, it's one for all romance writers out there.

Thanks for the reminder, Anita, to keep my men, well, manly :)


Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Kel, it's so nice of you to start off our day. Love your line. :)

I keep waiting for hubby to say, 'Terrific!' but all I seem to hear is 'Good!' or the occasional 'Great'. I guess he's a 'G' man. :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Karen, thanks.

You're right, of course. Faint is a very feminine word.

I could probably do another post just on the stuff not covered in the one hour workshop.

Good one, Karen.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Yes, nichol - it is their manliness that attracts us.

I agree that writing is very therapeutic. Where else can you pull the strings on your man--no, I meant to say on a man...

My hubby's perfect, aren't you, hon...

Anita Mae Draper said... I was saying nichol, 'swoon' is a delightful word that no self-respecting male would ever think of using for himself or another male. Good one.

Thanks for stopping by, love your comment.

Anita Mae Draper said...

You, nm8r67, are one of the lucky ones with first-hand knowledge of more than one subject to observe. No wonder your writing is so good in that respect. (Which reminds me, the bi-weekly eharl writers challenge entry should be posted by midnight tomorrow, right? And I haven't even checked the eharl thread to see what the challenge is...)

I was always a tom-boy as well. Even after mom said I went 'boy crazy'.

About Fabio ... I would actually be interested to read one of his books. And not because of his hair -- I dont' trust guys with hair longer than my own -- but because he has such a wealth of experience in the romance genre what with modelling for the book covers and all. You'd think some of that would rub off, no?

So glad you stopped in for a chat, Deb. Love your closing line. :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Tara, you're right about that. Actually, while researching this article, I read that it's not the authors who want to use a pen name, but the editors. They feel that readers hestitate before buying a romance written by a man because ... well ... what do men know about romance?

I'm thinking I should add links in the post so others can go and look, hmm?

Thanks for stopping here, Tara, even if you have given me more work to do. :)

Jana Richards said...

Hi Anita,
About 12 years ago I was at a conference in Victoria. On the night of the banquet we were to have as keynote speaker one of the writers on your list (who shall remain nameless). This person was introduced by his writing name, and most of us were shocked when a kind of dumpy, middle-aged man came out. My friends and I were seated close to the raised podium where he was speaking. One of the ladies seated next to me is a very attractive woman, who happened to be wearing a very tasteful, but kind of low cut top. This fellow spent most of his speech staring down her shirt! You can turn them into romance writers but you can't completely take the "guy" out of them.


Anita Mae Draper said...

Awh, thanks Hazel, I appreciate you saying that.

You know, the funny thing about the whole workshop was having Randy sit there and nod at everything Rachel was saying. At the end when she thanked him for being there, Randy said he had learned as much about writing from a woman's POV as we had learned about a man's.

I attended Randy's workshop on 'Those Pesky MRU's' and I'll be posting that one next week.

Thanks for your comment.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Exactly, Janet - you've nailed it. Just because we tell them something, doesn't mean they have to act on it.

I'm not familiar with American Dreams although I like the work of both lead actors you mentioned. I'll have to look it up.

Thanks, Janet, always looking forward to your comments.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Jana, that's too funny. On one hand, we don't want to 'take the guy out of them'...

... but on the other hand, get a life!

I guess that's one way to tell the difference between the 'good guys' and the 'guys', eh.

Thanks for telling that story. Of course I'm dying of curiosity, now...

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Fabulous ;) Anita. This is exactly what that Steve Harvey book I mentioned is about. Well, I mean it's a relationship book, but it states a lot of the same things about men. Comedians have been telling women for years that there's not nearly as much going on in a man's head, but women don't listen :)

I guess this is another strike against giving my hire-sword a pan flute, eh? No one's gonna like that, not even me.

I consider myself very lucky to have my husband so enthusiastically involved in my writing. I use him a lot as a sounding board to make sure I'm not subjecting my male characters to wishful thinking. I find I counter a lot of it myself though, lately. It's far more interesting when my male lead doesn't just come in and do Romantic Gesture That Would Solve Everything.. but is totally unrealistic. Likewise, I don't like setting my main character up as the passive object to be romanced and seduced, so it keeps me from having her just sit around and swoon with the reader... although she'd probably up and leave the story if that were going to happen ;)

Word Verification: hydra... awesome.

Suse said...

Hi Anita, interesting post. I think it can be very difficult to make our heroes sound like men, just because we don't think like them at all. Check out the following link for a comedian's take on men's brains vs women's brains:

I asked my husband and son about the "nothing box" referred to in the video. Apparently nothing boxes really do exist and are used quite frequently. I'm guessing there isn't very much time for men to think about any else, because if they're not in their nothing box, they're probably thinking about sex.

I hate to bash men even more, but I heard an interesting quote the other day that I found humorous:
"Anything men can do, women can do better - except something stupid." Kimora Lee Simmons, American fashion model.

Heroes are interesting to write, so let's have fun with them.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Let's see, Hayley, hire-sword--pan flute ... hire-sword--pan flute. Hmmm

I use my hubby as a sounding board, too but not all the time. He has some weird ideas... like real men don't wear pastels. Or get upset. Or speed. (He's an ex-cop.)

On the other hand, he's great with police stuff. :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Suse, I'm glad you enjoyed my post. Thank you for letting me know about the 'empty box' video. It's very funny but belies the statement of men sitting on the deck musing.

No comment on the quote. :)

I agree, I love creating heroes. I get to pick my ideal man. Ssssssh.

Thanks, Suse.

Captain Hook said...

Awesome post! I will have to do a more thorough reading when I'm not half dead on my feet :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Captain Hook - thanks for the sentiment. Take care of those feet, eh.

And thanks for taking the time to stop and visit.

HollyJacobs said...

Great post, Anita!


Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Holly, you've made my day!

Coming from you, that's about as good as it gets. Thanks for visiting me here. :)