Writing Male Characters

This “kick” today by David Farland is excellent, full of really useful info for writing and it’s funny.  I had to share…

“I critiqued a story today that was beautifully written but horribly wrong. The male protagonist cried, twice, within the first twenty pages. After the first incident, I wanted to slap him for being a sissy. After the second, I wanted to shoot him and put him out of his misery.
“So for today, I thought I’d give women some tips on how to write male protagonists better.
“1) Don’t have your men cry. It’s true that some men do cry, particularly when they’re happy, but men are biologically predisposed to cry less than women. Beyond that, in most societies, it’s considered a sign of weakness. So we don’t want to see them weep at the drop of a hat. Most importantly, by having a character cry, YOU GIVE THE AUDIENCE PERMISSION TO CRY, TOO. In other words, you allow the reader to have an emotional release—and I guarantee that in most cases, you don’t want to do that. So for all of the reasons cited above, don’t let your male protagonist cry.
“2) Give us powerful conflicts. Too often when I read stories by women, the worst thing that happens in a chapter is that our protagonist is affronted and gets his feelings hurt. Seriously, I’ve read entire books where no one gets in an argument, or throws a punch, or sticks the barrel of a gun down a villain’s throat and pulls the trigger. Give us some real action!
“3) Don’t spend all of your time describing the character’s emotional states. Many women seem to want to chronicle every miniscule feeling and every single body signal that is given during the course of a conversation, to the point that the dialog begins to flow like sludge. Conversely, I’ve seen men who want to write such snappy dialog, free of emotional cues, that we as readers can’t quite figure out what people are thinking or feeling. Obviously, this is a matter of taste. If you’re the kind of person who is deeply empathetic, you’re going to prone to writing “long” on the emotions. One thing that you can do is to stop from time to time and look at your dialog. Do you have places where five or ten lines flow uninterrupted? If you don’t, you probably are trying to describe emotions in too much detail.
“4) Get into your male protagonist’s head. Most women don’t seem to understand just how attractive men (or at least this guy) finds women to be. I love the smell of women. Seriously, when a woman gets on an elevator or passes by, I find her scent to be intoxicating. I don’t care if she just got out of the gym, even a woman’s perspiration smells great. I like the way that women look, too—the curves of their bodies (both the hips and the upper torso). I love the tone of their skin, both to look at, and to feel. Some men find hair to be the most attractive feature on a woman, but I don’t. Bald chicks are sizzling hot. In short, many female writers just don’t have any idea at all how much women can mess with men’s minds.”

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One Response to Writing Male Characters

  1. Kim V says:

    Ha. Ha. Yeah, that’s what I was going for in the paragraph of my short story describing the palm reader’s upper torso. It’s kind of fun to try and think like a guy…

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