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  1. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    Style From a man's point of view.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by cazann34, Apr 29, 2014.

    My latest short story is writing from the man's point of view (first person, present) but because I am a woman I tend to slip back into writing him as a her. He tends to read overly emotional and far too wordy. Not that I am saying men don't show their emotions or have a shorter vocabulary usage than woman. I just want him to sound convincing. Does anyone have any advice how I can write an accurate male protagonist without falling into the trap of writing a male stereotype?
     
  2. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    You've almost answered yourself right there. To avoid stereotyping you should concentrate on the character not the sex of the character. If the character demands to be overly emotional and too wordy, then he should be that way. Every man is different. You don't have to write about a "Man's man" to sound convincing. If you're worried he doesn't sound like a man, than maybe the character should worry too. Perhaps he's conscious he's not acting how a real man should act, and feels he should "man-up", but it's against his nature, or maybe others thinks he should.
    The trap is to squeeze your character into what you think a man should be. Do that and you are already sunk.
     
  3. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    I like this it's an angle I haven't thought of.

    I did some internet research on this subject on this and found this:

    http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/writing-the-male-point-of-view Written by Lynn Rush.

    Would you agree with this?
     
  4. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    "90% of statistics are made up" ;)

    I know a few guys who talk more than women; I do when I'm in the mood. I tend to talk in a gush (or "rant" if you ask my wife). I see less men gossip than women ... but they still do it. Men like to think we don't spend too much time talking about trivial matters, but then what is "sports" to the unbeliever? Some men think more than they talk. But then some men don't think at all. Some are confident in their physical prowess and believe they don't have to talk at all. Others are physically weak but have nothing to say.
    Do you see where I'm going with this?

    A man is a character whose character is shaped by not really being a man but by his experiences, those surrounding him, and the ticks and nuances he's developed along the way. But for every tick and nuance you should have a reason. He talks a lot because he's uncomfortable around others, for example. He uses humour because he's afraid of responsibility. He gossips because his own life is either dull or a car crash waiting to happen.
    Personally I wouldn't get too hung up on your average Joe, unless that's who you want to write about.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't. The advice also seems contradictory--men see more, what they see sticks with them, but they're not detail oriented? Eh?

    And even if the "words per day" statistic is true on average, I think we've all seen plenty of men who rattle on endlessly. And while the thing about empathy versus problem solving may be true on average, I'm a woman who also goes first to the problem solving point of view.

    I think that you're on safer ground if you're looking at societal expectations and demands placed on men, rather than the idea that men are biologically different.
     
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  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Men are not biologically different?
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Avoid stereotypes. My roomie is a man, and he talks more than anyone I've ever met. You have to sharpen your tongue to within an inch of its life to get a word in edgewise with him. I've had to install bigger spewage pipes in the house just to efficiently get rid of his words. Otherwise, we'd both be drowning in them and the county would be fining us for polluting the environment with excess verbiage.
     
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  8. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    Just write it. Firstly, I am a guy and I make my main male characters very wordy and totally emotional because I know there are guys out there like that (i.e. me). If you specify him as a guy it shouldn't be too hard to make the reader believe he is a guy.
     
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  9. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    That's not because you're a woman. Being a woman doesn't automatically make you better at or more inclined to write from the POV of any gender. It's probably just what you're used to.
    You know loads of men, it's not like they're exotic enigmas. It's like writing any female character that isn't you, you're putting yourself in someone else's shoes either way. Don't overthink it.
     
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  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think you can go horribly wrong with this. If he isn't supposed to talk a lot or react emotionally to stuff, then don't write him like that.

    A male friend of mine also writes male characters who are talkative, emotional, and - gasp - prudish! Think about the personality of your character and allow that to dictate how he behaves.
     
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  11. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In theory I agree with what most people here are saying. However, of the male characters written by female amateur writers, I'd say most if not all don't just read to me like feminine men, they read like actual females. And same for females written by men.

    I'd say there is a difference between being feminine and being female, and same between being masculine and male.

    Lots of men today are not masculine and lots of females not feminine but even so there are definite, noticeable, if subtle, differences between the genders that go past anatomy. It's noticeable in real life, and it's noticeable in literature.

    There's plenty of situations when men are louder and more verbose than the women they're with, but are they being talkative for the same reason? Men and women have evolved different strategies to survive over the millennia (not to mention operate under different chemicals) and it's reasonable to think that most people have gender based motives. It's not necessarily the superficial things that will be gender consistent, but rather the root of those superficial things.

    Expanding on this line of thought, I think the problem that amateur female writers have writing men and that amateur male writers have writing females, is that they write too much of themselves into the character, taking their own gender based fundamental understanding of the world, and transferring it into their opposite sex character.
     
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  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that if your character sounds wordy and inauthentic, that's not because you are writing him as a woman but because you are not writing him well enough. Women characters aren't necessarily more wordy, introspective or emotional than the males. In fact, males can be quite angsty and philosophical, and every time that I notice it in fiction, I don't think that he's written as a woman but how nice it is to read a man's innermost thoughts and feelings. We are all the same people deep down, men might keep more to themselves, but in their pov, the reader gets to see all that's under the surface.

    I find that striking the authenticity note in dialogue and internal monologue can be quite difficult. What helps me is to dive deep inside myself. 1. Cut the crap, break down the walls, be honest, then apply that to the character. 2. Figure out what is it that I'm having difficulty with saying. 3. Anything unnecessarily oblique and passive gets converted into an active. 4. Any marionetting is removed (he felt/he saw etc, instead, show from his true pov not the narrator's). 5. Remove all the boring 'in-between' parts. When you do all this, and re-read, you'll notice a massive improvement, it works every time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
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  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    A problem can arise when either sex writes about the other one as if they're focused on wish-fulfillment.

    Of course nobody can step completely into another person's shoes, but maybe the solution to this is to take your dearest wish about the opposite sex, and turn it on its head—at least for the purposes of thinking up a character, rather than actually writing one. Whatever it is you 'wish' your ideal partner would do, make them do the opposite in a few hypothetical situations? Maybe a few of these less attractive characteristics can be folded into the mix when you go to write your real character.

    Of course the opposite can work, if you find yourself thinking the worst about the opposite sex. Again, flip it on its head. What would make you like this person better?

    And the ultimate flip? Imagine your character to BE the opposite sex from what you've imagined them to be. Or model them upon somebody you know who is the opposite sex.

    I think the key is to move away from stereotypes as much as you can.
     
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  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @123456789 Yeah, sometimes female writers forget how difficult it is for men to get laid in comparison to women. Affects their fundamental understanding of the world big time :D ;)
     
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  15. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    You've opened up a Gender War thread, OP. Do you realize that?

    The way I see it, whether your character is a man or a woman is irrelevant. For all you know, he could be gay and like other men, you just don't know. Plenty of my female characters don't fit into stereotypical female roles, and some of my male characters tend to act with their emotions, rather than their fists. Hell, one of my female characters acts so masculine she reminds me of Captain Picard..

    Long story short: Write them based on their personality, not their sex parts. The vast majority of readers are interested in the former, not the latter, OK?

    Though I will say these, being a man myself:

    ++ We tend to not like asking for directions, or admitting when we need help. Chalk that up to us being raised by our parents to believe that because we are the providers, we've got to have all the answers, we've got to do what we can by ourselves, we can do this, dammit! >:[ Though I ask for directions, as I admit when I don't have all the solutions. And I don't, ladies. I really don't. I think it's because society had taught us that it's unmanly to go ask for directions or admit you don't know things.

    ++ Not sure if ladies are excluded, but we tend to be more lax on the clean. Now, I'm an OCD freak and have to have things exactly where they belong, but I could go weeks without dusting, vacuuming, or cleaning my bedroom sheets.

    ++ We tend to be less subtle about jokes ladies find disgusting like farting, burping, that sort of thing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
  16. Mackers
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    Mackers Contributing Member

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    LOL...
     
  17. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    Can't even deny.
     
  18. Mackers
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    Mackers Contributing Member

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    There will always be men willing to bed women, even exceptionally ugly women...What's with that?
     
  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well, guess some men are willing to look past the physical appearance of a woman. We're not all shallow "eeew you not a hottie!" pricks, ya know. ;)

    And really, it's quite offensive to only look at people solely on what they look like. Who are we, Claude Frollo? Think about that, guys. Are we gonna be like Claude Frollo and judge others based on appearance, or like Phoebus and judge them base on personality? I pick Phoebus.

    @Mackers - And just for that last sentence: you are now imagining Phoebus and Quasimodo kissing and holding hands while singing a love song about Paris.
     
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  20. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    Well said.
     
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  21. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    But Phoebus was a total d*ck towards Esmeralda. Or are we talking about the Disney version here?
    You know, Belle refused Gaston the Handsomest Garcon in the Village and saw through the Beast's ugliness. Of course, he then turned into Fabio… but still!

    And of course, when writing a story or a novel, it’s not that black and white. Boys and girls are still brought up differently in many families, and despite their personalities, the upbringing should play a part in their characterization. Then there are also some biological factors that can affect the behavior, hormones and such. It's pretty much up to the writer to decide how important such factors are, I think.
     
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  22. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    @KaTrian - I'm talking about the Disney version, as that's the version I saw as a child.

    And I agree with the rest of your post. Women, just like men, are able to see through physical appearance for the personality and the human within. I suspect that if Disney!Quasimodo were a woman and Disney!Esmeralda were a man, their relationship would've been no different than how it was in the actual movie.

    Men and women are who they are based on how they were raised, and the environment they were raised in. Their sex parts are hugely irrelevant, in my mind.
     
  23. Mackers
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    Mackers Contributing Member

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    We're talking pure carnal physical attraction here, not long-term relationships. Look at Katrian's comment. I was more going for the "Men not being able to get laid therefore lowing their standards" angle

    Anyway, back in the real world.,..
     
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  24. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well, your comment came off as "who would want to date an ugly woman, omg..." which sparked my commentary. Thought you were being offensive. :/
     
  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm fairly sure @T.Trian has a theory, but alas, he's not online right now.
     
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