Monday, June 16, 2014

Writing - From a Man's Perspective

In the past, romance novels and love stories were all told from a female point of view. These days, we get to see things from both points of view. I find men fascinating, which is why I write my novels from both perspectives. That said, there are certain things I keep in mind when writing my male leads.

A Convincing Voice – Language, Reaction, Motivation

·    Language is a common connector, but men communicate differently. They tend to say exactly what they mean, while women are more tactful.  Direct language for a male character is always better.

·    Women will hide their feelings, particularly if something gets on their nerves in a group setting.  Men are more open and let you know they are displeased. Of course, personalities vary and when I write, I like my men to be complex characters that don’t do the expected.

·    A man’s motivation is oftentimes clearer than a woman’s. Take a young guy who sees a woman he likes. There's the open admiration and if you watch carefully, you might see him making up his mind to approach that woman. Then he’ll go into action.  A woman will make several subtle passes with her eyes, unless of course, she wants the guy to know without a doubt that she’s interested. Her body language will tell him exactly what she wants him to know. I play around a bit in my writing. I prefer my male characters to be more controlled in their approach.


·     While women will stop and absorb the beauty in nature, I’ve never seen a man running a fingertip over a flower in the way a woman does. In my mind, if he does this, it would perhaps be his way of telling the leading lady that he’d like to touch her like that.

·    A man viewing a garden setting probably wouldn’t think about the dew pearling on the blooms, but it might remind him to get some flowers for his lady, if they had a quarrel.  Not to say that men don’t appreciate beauty, they just don’t get as enthralled over nature.  In writing, a man’s appreciation of nature shouldn't be done using words that make him sound sappy, unless it’s intentional.


·    We are shaped by our history and our characters should be the same. A man who experienced poverty and hardship in his early years would see the world differently from one who has had the best of everything, therefore, it is important to me that the reader can identify how my character’s life experiences have made him the person he is as well as what drives him.

Getting Close to the Horse’s Mouth

·    Research lends authenticity to our work and if I doubt that what I’ve written rings true, I find a man to read it.  But before I get to that stage, I talk to men to see what they think about a particular subject and how they deal with certain aspects of their relationships.  Male critique partners have told me that my male lead sounds sissyish when he’s thinking this or that, and I've been told no man worth his salt would do or say certain things. That’s usually my cue to go back to the keyboard.

Each time I write a male character, it’s a learning experience. The voice has to be authentic, seeing through his eyes is a must, so is delving into his-story and finding out what makes him tick. How do you female writers craft your male characters? Are there any other factors you keep in mind when creating your heroes? If you're a male reader, are there any tips you can share that will help us write better male leads?


kaykuala said...

Wonderful insight into what woman sees in man. Man is more abrupt while woman is more subtle. Very useful in knowing this even for a short story though time factor may present constraints to develop the character! Great thoughts JL!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We do see things differently. Excellent points to consider. I have to run through a similar list when writing from a woman's perspective.

J.L. Campbell said...

Hank, you certainly summed it up very few words. :)

For sure, Alex. I guess that's why men and women need each other - for wholeness. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I love writing from a man's POV. They are such simple creatures. LOL

Pat Hatt said...

Sure can be two very different point of views indeed

Michelle Gregory said...

thanks for this. it reminds me of a blog post written by Kaki Warner on the male perspective.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I have five grown sons and I have to say, men are different creatures from women. I do try to make my male characters more direct to women and like my boys, very competitive with each other.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I agree, you nailed the differences so clearly. I write from both perspective too. The only difference being my men are generally damaged goods, either from a trauma in their childhood, or the lost of their soulmate. My females usually teach their men how to be real without fear of the unknown. Excellent post, Joy.

LuAnn @ BackPorchervations said...

Interesting. And true.

In re-working my A to Z posts into an ebook, it has an underlying Christian and female interest group, in part due to the subject matter. But I feel the underlying truths are applicable to more groups in 'our' society. So it may turn into a series of ebooks, each written for a different audience.

J.L. Campbell said...

That's right, Diane.

Pat,that makes things interesting.

Thanks for sharing that post, Michelle. I'll check it out.

Susan, sounds like you have lots of raw materials to be build some good stories.

Joylene, thanks. Glad this is clear. I think it makes stories more interesting with both perspectives are covered.

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks for sharing, LuAnn. I hope putting the book together goes well.

Melissa said...

Great article, Joy.

Male CPs are a treasure, aren't they?

Unknown said...

We men are simple creatures. I can't count how many books I've read where I thought, "a man would never do/say that." Near always, it's because too much thought is put into what the character says or does.

That's not to say men can't be deep, we just do it differently. This is too long for a reply so I'm going to steal the subject for a post on my blog.

The short version is this, the best advice is what you already said, if you are unsure if it sounds real, ask a man for his opinion. I would only change that to say, ask an honest man.

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks, Melissa. Yes, males help a lot with working out the dos and don'ts of male characters.

Frank, thanks for weighing in on this. Really appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

I noted the 'honest man' part. :)

Anonymous said...

Always knew I was different and now I have a better idea why... not that my male characters are all "from Mars" - like to mix it up a bit. But there are clear differences in the genders and it jars when a writer gets it wrong.

Looking forward to Alex and Frank's male perspectives

Anonymous said...

Forgot to say I'm a guy that goes a bit 'sappy' over nature but them I'm 'green', grew up in the countryside, have Quaker ancestors, plus one that was a irrepressible plant collector.

klahanie said...

I write from any perspective that I feel. And being a dude, I take the time to notice the shapes of the pretty flowers. Rather not stereotype, thank you. And I also have a dog who writes based on her observations of humans, regardless of gender.

Thank you for a thoughtful post, J.L.

Gary :)

Stephanie Faris said...

It is tough to get into a man's head, isn't it? I remember sitting in a writer's conference a couple of years ago when an agent lamented the lack of middle grade and YA books from a male perspective. She actually said, "I don't understand why." I looked around the room and counted ONE man in the whole room. I wanted to raise my hand and say, "I think *I* know why," but I thought that might be rude...and she was an agent, so we don't want to be rude to agents!

J.L. Campbell said...

Roland, thanks for sharing. Yep, the sexes are way different in their reaction to situations.

I hear you, Gary.

True that, Stephanie. I find that I've been blessed to be able to write for any perspective I choose. I've written a book in the voice of a young boy and did well at it. I think that's because I become the character when I write and then one whole edit is dedicated to would he say this or would he do that. Sometimes I wonder why I didn't choose something easier to do, but then we don't get to choose what we love.

Michelle Wallace said...

What wonderful insights Joy.
Yes, men are from Mars and women from Venus...

J.L. Campbell said...

Hey, Michelle. We're certainly different people.

J Lenni Dorner said...

That is fascinating.
Do you find that male points of view vary? For example, will a gay Native American look at a flower the same way as a high powered corporate Dutchman?

Stopping by after the #atozchallenge - ROAD TRIP style. ;)