Friday, November 19

That Manly Man of Mine

Sometimes I have to remind myself not to think like a woman when I write my male characters. In my last story, while in the hero's pov, I described another man as having the face of a supermodel with a body to match. Thank God for my crit group. One of the ladies pointed out that a man wouldn't think of another man that way.

So now when writing a man, I go to a reliable source. Men. Not one man, many men. My husband and his friends, both married and single. I've dubbed them The Testosterone Pool. They let me know when my male character starts sounding like a woman.

There are times when writing a man gets really tricky. Men don't see themselves the way we do, and that causes a dilemma. Most romances are targeted for women. So do we write men the way a woman wants to see him, or do we write him with a typical male brain? Think about it. Most of us would hate a hero that had sex on the brain all the time. But, The Testosterone Pool informed me that not long after meeting an attractive woman, they start to wonder what she looks like naked. (Hubby stayed out of this conversation. He does have to live with me.) Refusing to believe this, I extended my question to family members.(I had to promise that nothing they said would be repeated to wives or girlfriends.) They agreed with The Pool.

There is a such thing as going to far. I draw the line at the hero calling the female character horrifying names. Bitch and the c word (I can't even bring myself to type such a repulsive word) never comes out of the hero's mouth when referring to the heroine. It's a pet peeve of mine.

So who do you go to when you write your hero? How do you make sure you don't feminize him? Or do you just wing it?


  1. Good post. I put myself inside the brain of a man and stay there for the duration of the POV of my hero, or any male character. Men aren't as wordy or descriptive as we are. They respond more viscerally to a woman they find attractive and they also don't spend a whole lot of time reflecting. That's our job. I reserve the work of in depth refection for my heroine.

  2. Fpr myself, I try to strike a balance between channeling my military men dad and grandfathers (who are both NYers not afraid to cuss, and southern gentlemen), and my more gentlemanly husband and younger brothers. But, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but I'm afraid if you can't bring your male character to call the female character a "C" then you've missed the male mindset. I've never seen one man afraid to use it, except maybe around their mothers or grandmothers, or their current girlfriends. But they absolutely won't shy away from using it to describe an ex, or the "c" at the grocery store that argued with him about that pack of cigarettes, or the "c" that pulled out in front of them in traffic. I've also heard both men and women use that term for the female body part without batting an eye. Of course, you have to play to your audience, but just saying, I'd kinda wonder about a guy who shied away from using the term with friends.

  3. Julia, you're right, men aren't as descriptive and i think that may be why more time is usually spent in a woman's pov. Julianne, I don't think the use of the c word is as common as you think. I'm ex military and have never heard that word tossed around as much as you have. All of the men I know refer their exes as b's. As far as body parts go, I usually hear the "p" word.

  4. Maybe the use of the 'c' word is a regional thing because I rarely hear it. And I'm out in the public around people all day.

    Great post. I think that there is a fine line between writing men as men or men as women want them to be.

  5. I have a hard time writing the male POV, so I usually have them say (speak) as little as possible. The only internal reflections have to do with honor, when it is OK to express emotion, and his thoughts on what drives people to criminal acts. I'm writing a constable. He doesn't think about romantic emotions, he acts on them. He lets his actions do the talking when it comes to the heroine of the story.

    I think JR Ward is a master at male banter among friends! I can't do it.

  6. I'm not good with thinking male-like, either, though I will usually get one of my own males to check on what I write.

    I'm like Margie. I work with the public and with men and can count on one hand the times I've heard the "c" word. Even the public use of the f-bomb has lessened recently.

    Of course, I never try to be too realistic, either. :-)

  7. I think it's all in the description, Shawn. And, you have to remember, men talk differently to other men than they do to women, so I try to remember who they're talking to as well as the fact that they are male.

  8. I LOVE writing in a man's POV. Comes pretty easy...except when I tried to do a sex scene in my hero's POV. Twice as hard.