Romance Weekly will return next Tuesday as many authors in the hop are at the national Romance Writers of America conference.
Since most romance authors are female, they need to aware of the differences between women and men’s thought patterns and communication when writing. It’s important to learn some “guy code.”
Writing in a masculine point of view should read far differently than writing from a feminine state of mind. “Deborah Tannen, linguistics professor and author of You Just Don’t Understand, believes men and women differ in the focus, or driving force, behind their communication. According to Tannen, men converse with a focus on achieving social status and avoiding failure, while women focus on achieving personal connection and avoiding social isolation. Men want to report, women want rapport.”
Consider description, inner thoughts and dialog when in your hero’s head. I write contemporary romance, so my examples in this post are in that genre. Historical, period and maybe even fantasy authors need to remain true to words of their genre, and in some cases, formality. In any case, a reader should be able to tell they are in a male point of view through inner thoughts and dialog alone.
Descriptions: Men describe things simply or relate them to an object with which they are familiar. A guy may say a woman’s eyes are brown, however if he compares them to his favorite whiskey or something personal to him, not only does this paint a better picture, it gives insight into the man.
My husband is a motorhead. Nine out of ten times, he’ll describe something using vehicle terminology. He’d probably describe a woman’s eyes as Petty blue, a unique shade legendary NASCAR driver, Richard Petty painted his car. Make your hero’s descriptions relate to him, and his lifestyle, when possible.
Inner thoughts: Last year, our local RWA chapter held a workshop with a male panel for our authors to ask questions. I remember one of the guys saying “We’re really not that deep.” However, writing guys exactly true to form may leave romance readers wanting. It’s a delicate balance to remain true to the gender and yet give your audience enough to keep them wanting more. Psyche and personality should help dictate your hero’s sensitivity rating. Employment is also a consideration. An artist or writer is probably going to be more introspective than a say a mechanic or soldier, if only because of the nature of their work.
Unless a man is a designer or into clothes, he probably wouldn’t say, “I love you in that Gucci dress.” He might say, “You look hot in that dress.” Or he may digress into saying which body part be believes is the hottest.
Amping up a hero’s dialog doesn’t always have to be in your face. My husband remembers when his best friend fell for the girlfriend he ended up marrying. He didn’t say he was in love with her, he said, “That girl just tears me up.”
Except in tender moments with a lover or child, men tend to talk around emotion. When guys converse casually amongst themselves, it can be joking, competitive and colorful. Sarcasm can be a way to beat around the bush or say what you really think and hope it won’t being taken seriously.
If a guy notices his buddy has gotten new athletic shoes, he might say, “You’re going to kick a$$ on the court in those new Air Jordans.” If it’s a competitive relationship, he’d more likely say, “Even in those new Jordans, I doubt you’ll kick my a$$ on the court.”
I like using witty dialog as a mild conflict between my hero and heroine from time to time. In the beginning of a relationship it can be flirty. In a spat, sarcasm can be a vivid tool to show emotion.
Read books written by men in a similar genre in which you write. Though the book may not be romance, you’ll get a feel for inner thoughts and the dialog. I read several biographical and non-fiction military novels before I attempted writing about a SEAL not only to get a military mindset but to gain insight for style of communication.
Action movies contain a great deal of male dialog. Even though you may not care for those types of flicks, they can be a wealth of information. For a youthful and comical perception of men watch Guy Code on MTV2.
Now go out there and hunt your next alpha or beta!