Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Final Countdown: 19 Days

If you need some background or a reminder, here's the gist. On my run, today, I was listening to Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money. She has this scene where she does an excellent job portraying her main male character: he’s offered to watch the main female character’s back and so is setting up hidden microphones in her apartment, as well as one for under her clothes when she’s out investigating, so he can listen in from a van (out of context this actually sounds incredibly creepy, but I promise in the book it makes sense). 

The male character goes into detail about the batteries, how the thing works, how expensive it is, etc. He ends the monologue with, “Don’t break it, lose it, or take a shower with it.” 

As a female reader, and a female in general when men go into techno-talk, all I hear is: “Now this fudlamadoo comes from Hezostan and the batteries are biddlinesick, they work like poof. This thing costs a million-kazillion dollars. Don’t mess this thing up or else…”

I hear the money part. And then I hear the part where I’m not supposed to touch it. The rest of it is in a completely different language. 

Generally my response is to nod my head and look awed, then say something along the lines of, “Coool.” The male is satisfied with my response, and I’m satisfied that we can move on to something I’m more interested in.

Now I can’t be sure, but I think my response is pretty on par with the rest of the female population out there. That’s why I loved Evanovich’s rendition.

It brought to mind my struggle with this chapter. It was hard for me to come back and redo because it’s the first chapter I really go into detail about my main male character. In my head I have a pretty good idea of who he is, and how he would react to things, but on paper? I just could not, could not, could not, get him right.

One of my best critiquers thus far hit the problem on the nose: “Why does he sound so young?”

My answer back then, “I don’t know? I can’t tell what I’m doing wrong.”

But now I’ve figured out a huge key to writing male characters. Y’all are going to read this and say, “No duh, Deb.” But I’m throwing it out there anyway, for any of you writers who’ve not put two-and-two together with this yet.

Today’s inspiration is a writing tip:

link to original here
When writing female characters, it’s totally okay to go into their heads. To explain what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling, why they feel that way, etc.

When writing male characters, it’s not at all okay to go into their heads. They definitely have thoughts, emotions, and reasons why they feel those emotions, but they’re not easily going to open up about it. 

You have to show, with men. If they’re upset about something happening, you don’t say, “When Fredrick saw the dog pissing on his car, he was angry.” You say, “When Fredrick saw the dog pissing on his car, he balled up his fists and pulled his boot back to kick it across the street, but the dog saw him coming and skittered away.”

When you get too much into your male character’s head, he sounds young and often-times whiney. 

This is not always the case, and I’m not an expert writer (yet), but in my experience it helps to stay out of a man’s head. When he pauses for a response you nod and say, “Coool.” And then the story moves on.


  1. Interesting! I have the same opinion with a different spin, I think. I feel like if you're writing 3rd limited and the male character is your POV character you have to go into his head. One of my favorite characters is very stereotypically masculine, and I love writing his perspective because then readers can see that he does have all these thoughts and feelings, he just doesn't express them. It's fun to connect emotions to behaviors when I'm in his perspective, then switch POV characters. Then the readers know that he's irritated because he's messing with a hole in the hem of his shirt (or something) but the other characters have no clue. I think the scenes where we know something the characters don't know are the most fun!

    Also, when I'm writing manly men (ha ha) I have my husband "proofread" for me to weed out anything a man wouldn't actually think or say. Of course, my husband is a little on the extreme side, so sometimes I ignore his advice. For example, no matter what he says, some men do like poetry.

    1. I like the spin. I love, love, love it when the reader knows something the other characters don't. Oooo, the tension. Makes you just want to jump into the story so you can spill the beans and clear everyone up, so to speak. But of course, that's what drives the reader so quickly forward, and makes it so they can't put the book down regardless of the fact that it's 3 am and they've been reading the bloody thing for the last eight hours. Must. Find out. What happens.

  2. I love this. 'blah, blah...expensive...blah' That is so me and the other half. Although the roles reverse sometimes, he still can't work out how to programme the heating ;-)

    Glad the re-working is re-working for you!

    1. If it's inside the house, I think the other-half's automatically go into "Sorry, can't figure it out"-mode. That's our turf. Programming the heating? Definitely our turf :)

  3. Very interesting! Evanovich has some GREAT characters in that series (I have read them all so far!). She writes the two man men in the triangle very very funny, and from the main character's view of them, not so much from their point of view. Very true, and very very successful.

    1. Nice insights. Thank you for that. I haven't read the rest of them, so I'm glad you said something. I was teetering between getting the next one or not? Now with your recommendation -- it's a done deal. Putting it on my to-do list right now.


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