Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side. She believes there's nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, along with two university aged daughters and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou.
What did you Say? Dialogue is one area where our male and female characters often differ. Women tend to be more verbal, using conversation to talk about their feelings and vent emotions. Men may feel their emotions as keenly as women, but they likely will not talk about them as much.
Vanessa Grant, in her book, “Writing Romance”, talks about a problem in one of her romance novels, “Pacific Disturbance”. In it, her male character makes a long speech to the heroine, thanking her for her work. In “Writing Romance”, Vanessa says she later regretted that speech because it was more like something a woman would say. A man would say “You’re doing a great job.” Short and sweet.
I feel, therefore I am. Most men won’t show their feelings or talk about them as much as women, no matter how strong their emotions. They will likely keep feelings bottled up inside, and often the only sign that they feel anything is through their body language. A clenched jaw or a fisted hand might be the only clue that your male character feels anger. Crossed arms may signal his annoyance and hostility. “The Definitive Book of Body Language” by Allan and Barbara Pease, is a great resource for authors. It helps to decipher what gestures, facial expressions and body positions really mean.
When the alpha male does show his emotions, it’s usually a spectacular display. One of my favorite scenes of an alpha male losing control is in Suzanne Brockman’s “Breaking Point”. Max has been in love with Gina for a long time, but has pushed her away because he believes that not only is he too old for her, he’s no good for her. When Gina is reported dead, Max reacts stoically, barely showing any emotion. But when he and a fellow FBI agent go to the morgue to identify her body, they discover that the body is not Gina’s. Max is totally overcome with emotion and relief, and simply falls to his knees, all his feelings totally on display.
Are you really going to wear that? Women tend to be more conscious of their appearance then men, and women are often more critical of their own appearance then men are. Unless he’s feeling self-conscious or insecure for some reason, a man wouldn’t think very much about what he’s wearing. He would, however, notice what the heroine is wearing, especially if she looks particularly sexy. But he probably couldn’t tell her what she’s wearing. Most men, especially Alpha men, wouldn’t be familiar with different types of women’s fashion. If your hero, in his internal monologue, begins thinking about the heroines’ cornflower blue slip dress with spaghetti straps, and fitted bodice designed by Versace, it may not ring true. More likely, he’d be thinking about the short, sexy blue dress that hugged all her curves and showed off acres of creamy bare skin.
Talk dirty to me. Men think more about sex then women do. It’s probably a given that your hero is going to have one or two carnal thoughts about the heroine. Your hero will likely make up his mind quite quickly about the desirability of the heroine as a sexual partner.
A woman may express her love through words or gestures. Men tend to express their love through sex. A partner making love to him is the ultimate affirmation of love for many men.
Me Tarzan, you Jane. Men like to think of themselves as heroes, as protectors and breadwinners. If a woman comes to a man with a problem, he’ll try to “fix” it for her, even if all she really wants to do is talk. Above all, men like to be thought of as useful.
Perhaps the best way to write a good male perspective is to read works written by men. Also, you might want to ask male friends or family to read parts of your book to see if your male characters ring true.
These sweeping generalizations don’t necessarily apply to all men or all male characters. While we want to make our male characters believable, we have to keep in mind that our mostly female readership may not want “real life”, but perhaps an idealized life. Romance heroes are men as women would like them to be.
What do you do to give your male characters the ring of truth? Do you agree that the romance hero represents men the way women would like them to be?