Thursday, June 14, 2012

Writing from a male's POV as a woman

Now for those of you male writers out there, I'm sure this is the least of your concerns.  However, for us ladies we may often struggle when it comes to writing a story from a man's point of view.  Whether you write in first person or third person, when it comes to writing the man's story or his views it sometimes can be very challenging.  
Over the course of writing a historical fantasy fiction book, I've learned a lot about male characters.  If there's one thing you want to be certain of, it's this: Make sure you male's characters have unique voices.  I cannot stress this enough.  (And I say that to you because I told myself the same advice.)  Imagine how frightening it would be if your male characters ended up sounding like the women in your book.  This especially can be a problem when your main character is a woman, but her sidekick or best friend is perhaps a man.
So then how do writers do it?  Numerous authors have written about The Tudors, focusing on the man Henry was --both as a ruler and a husband.  Or better yet, how did Mary Stewart write the Arthurian saga from the perspective of Merlin?
Don't fret, don't worry, though.  It isn't impossible.
Lynn Rush, the author of Wasteland (told from a male's POV), said her success came from research. Watching people, reading, the internet --all of these are sources that can help you in your writing.  
So here's some suggestions (both from me and from other authors that I read up on):
  • Remember that men aren't always as open about their feelings as women are.  It doesn't mean they won't necessarily share their feelings, but keep in mind it may take them more time to be open about it then it may take a woman.
  • Men connect more physically than emotionally.  This might not matter that much to you if you're not writing a romance novel, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.
  • Men can be very logical and sometimes brutally honest.  They want to fix things, which you might have noticed when you went to a guy friend/boyfriend/husband and broke down crying over something, hoping for a hug, when in the end they're just trying to figure out how they can solve the situation.  Also, no matter how you're feeling, sometimes men will be entirely honest with you no matter how brutal it may sound.  They might say something like "You're being overdramatic;" we've all heard it before, and it's just a matter we may never understand.
  • Women are more quick to realize anger than men.  This might seem like something you'd only read in a psychology textbook, but this actually does play an important role when it comes to writing for your character.  Perhaps someone is angry or upset at him for something he's said and instead of realizing the person is mad, he would ask, "What's the matter?"
Now I'm sure I could go on for days with the ways men act and how this can affect your male POV.  At the end of the day, though, I think the most important thing to do is observe the men in your life.  Friends, a boyfriend/husband, relatives, even a stranger... All of them act differently, but you may notice some similarities.  I can't tell you how many times I've had words from a conversation flood my head while trying to write a male character's dialog.  Hold onto those conversations you had, the emotions you had, and the emotions you noticed them feeling.  There's a lot you can notice about a man, even if he isn't speaking.  And don't be afraid to peek around in books for those male characters you fell in love with (Tristan from Song of the Sparrow happens to be one of my favorite).  Note down quotes and body posture; anything at all that may help.  Maybe even write down how (if told from a woman's POV) the woman saw him/felt about him.
Good luck!  
Coming up next: I'll be talking about Her Highness, The Traitor --a new book I'm currently read.  Also, I'm going to start watching The Tudors sometime this week, so I plan on writing about my first reactions.  (Slightly excited because I've heard the show is great!)
Lindsey R. Sablowski


Riv Re said...

Yes. I can't agree more on this post. And the thing is, most female authors will still fail, unfortunately.
I had to write a scene from a guy's POV--nothing major, just a few hundred words. I killed myself working on that. You have to analyze every single thought, every word to make sure the scene isn't too emotional (especially hard in an emotional roller-coaster kind of scene). The first thing I did when I finished writing the scene was print it out and give it to my brothers.

The "fixing" thing is also a major point. I canNOT complain to my brother. Ever. His response is always, "why do you think that is? is there something you can do to fix the problem with your teacher [or whatever]?" SO. ANNOYING.

Lindsey Sablowski said...

It definitely can be challenging, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. I think the fact that you give it to your brothers to read over can definitely help.

I know what you mean. When I read about that it was like suddenly it just made sense to me... That was why my boyfriend wants to always fix everything. They're all about logic. We'll never understand.

Raven Paramour said...

It can be hard to write as a guy. If you notice how men behave or react to different things, you'll notice it. I think it can be hard sometimes for men to write as women because they have perceptions and or sterotypes of how women behave.

Her Highness, The Traitor sounds interesting. What's it about?

Lindsey Sablowski said...

I'm sure women have sterotypes about men as well lol.

Thanks, it is! I'll actually be posting about it this evening so stay tuned.

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