Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mars vs Venus In Writing

While reading over some of my work, I realized that I haven't entirely mastered the art of writing from a man's PoV. Being somewhat of a girly girl, I guess it's hard to wrap my brain around the way men think. At work I'm surrounded by boys who shoot each other with nerf guns, talk about crude bodily functions like it's an art form and do nothing but rib each other all day. Sometimes I think the only way I'll ever understand them is if someone takes a lead pipe to my head for several hours so my IQ goes down from 100 to 1.

I realize that my perplexity over guys also shows up in my writing. Pausanias reads more like a girl than a guy. I feel like I could make Themistocles a bit more rough around the edges. In my mind's eye King Leonidas is far about "fart jokes" and crude humor, but does that make the story less interesting or realistic?

What do you guys think? How can I get my characters to man up?


Gabriele Campbell said...

Maybe some of those self help books of the Women are from Venus, Men from Mars sort might help. A lot is about different ways of communication. Men don't get hints, they need clear instructions. Not, "don't you think the trash can is full, darling?", but "could you please take out the trash can." :)

Men show feelings by actions. They'll rather wash your car and mow your lawn than say "I love you."

Not that they can't get poetic - some of the most beautiful poetry has been written by men, but for them it's not like speeking about their feelings. If they do that (like Arminius in my last snippet) they must really trust the other.

Men often have a different honour code, and they do tend to settle disputes in a way that shows the good old alpha genes, be it by the sword or winning an argument. And it's about winning, not finding a common ground.

Can you tell I have been accused of acting and arguing like a man all through my time at university?

Scott Oden said...

I have the same trouble writing female perspectives. Invariably, they'll end up as either hand-wringing virgins or Vasquez from Aliens. To find a realistic midle ground, I go out and talk to women. Now, most of the women in my immediate circle of friends are just as die-hard geeky as I am -- and they tend to be little help. But, there are a few (one in particular) who knows enough different sorts of people that usually a phone call can set up a nice, informal lunch date (and she always insists on coming along) where I can ask questions like: "here's a bit of dialogue; if a man said this to you, how would you respond?" or "the man you love is going off to war; how does that affect you?" Generally, they are very forthcoming.

In a pinch, I can always email a few romance writers I know. They are excellent at all the goopy emotion bits :)

So, I would advise looking beyond your workplace for more mature and serious men. Maybe one or two of your coworkers have a brother or cousin in the military you could talk to (same humor, but more awareness of life and death)?

Wynn Bexton said...

I'm writing from a number of men's p.o.v.s and at first it was tricky. Part of it is you have to really 'hear' that man's voice in your own head as well as thoroughly understanding the characters himself.

I am lucky to have a critique group who are familiar with my novel and the men in the group are good at pointing out if I have the character's 'sound' like the male characters they are portraying.

You also have to remember to be true to your character so he acts consistently.

Carla said...

I second the "look around and listen around" comments. Also, I find that the more I 'know' the characters as individuals, the more clearly I can write them, regardless of whether they're men or women.

There's a very interesting article on the whole "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" thing here.

Strength/Courage/Wisdom said...

That is a definite challenge. I'm a woman, trying to write from the perspective of a 13-year-old boy. Sigh.

I try to model him after some males I knew when I was that age and as I go through the drafting process, I'll definitely ask some men for input.