When I first told my husband I was doing an article on writing from a male point of view, he said, why bother? According to him, men are easy. There’s one layer, nothing fancy. What you see is what you get. What they say is what they mean. Unlike woman. He reckons we’re the ones that should come with a manual, and even then, he doubts if males will ever have a chance of understanding us.
Though basically put, his comments do sum up the male psyche in a couple of neat sentences. Generally, men aren’t complicated. Generally, they are what you see.
So, how can we, as women trying to write from a male point of view, achieve this without making our men sound like, well, women?
Here’s a few pointers I’ve dug up from a couple of very good articles.
Men are hunters
- They prefer direct action to talk. They’re ‘doers’ as opposed to thinkers. A good example of this is the fact that few men read instructions-they’re a last resort, to be used only if all else fails.
- They’re rarely prepared to wait for any great length of time. Ever stood with your other half in a long bank or supermarket line?
- They like being in charge (or at least like thinking they’re in charge!)
- Men have better detection of light and have better depth perception.
- They’re more visual while we’re more tactile. (which explains why they’re turned on by all those naked pictures, and we’re turned on by touch and smells.)
Men are problem solvers. They rarely…
- Ask for advice (especially from the women in their lives)
- Admit to being wrong, or not knowing an answer. Ever heard an apology that wasn’t gruffly said?
- End sentences with questions. They’re not likely to say “this is a nice shirt, isn’t it?”
- Say things like “I’m not sure, but” or “sort of,” etc.
- Respond to direct commands unless it’s issued by a boss or other ranking figure. (unfortunately, wives and girlfriends usually don’t fit this category).
Men speak directly. They rarely…
- Mask their thoughts. They say what they think, and mean what they say.
- Use euphemisms.
- Call a spade a spade — or a penis is a penis, not a throbbing love stick. Although when it comes to the penis, they do have a tendency to assign pet names.
- Are not likely to use expressive adjectives. The man in my life is certainly not likely to be heard using words like wonderful, gorgeous, fantastic to describe things (unless he’s being sarcastic). ‘That’s okay’ is about all you’ll get out of him. Or, if he’s feeling really expressive ‘it looks good.’
- They do not phrase ideas with a question-for example, they’re not likely to say “What if we were to…”
- They don’t say one thing and mean another. For example, a woman will say “are you hungry?” and quite often mean “I’m hungry, can we eat?”. A man will simply say “I’m hungry.”
- Will be rarely heard using such expressions as ‘May I?/could I?/Should I?”
Most men see conversation as a means to relay information. They rarely…
- Listen without giving advice. Don’t go to a male to vent a problem because he’ll simply think you’re looking for a solution and will offer you one whether you want it or not.
- Ask questions to keep a conversation going. Small talk and men are not easy companions.
- Punctuate the speakers speech with ‘agreeing’ noises like ‘uh huh’
- Unlike women, men do not use talking as a means to strengthen emotional ties.
Most men repress emotion, except for anger. They rarely…
- Discuss emotional needs openly. Most of them won’t even admit they have emotional needs. (Though remember, this is a problem that doesn’t extend to all cultures. European men, for example, tend to be much more expressive to those they love than Australian or American.)
- Show any deep emotion except for anger.
- Will rarely use words like darling, honey or sweetheart, except during sex or in moments of extreme stress.
- Men rarely cry.
- Men rarely have intimate friends. They tend to have a larger circle of ‘casual mates’
I guess the most important thing to remember when you’re writing from a male point of view is this- most of the time, men and women don’t talk the same way, and they certainly don’t think the same way. Take an example of a couple who have been going out for five or six months. The length of time they’ve been together comes up. She’s likely to be thinking along the lines of:
“It’s hard to believe six months have flown by already. We really should start discussing out feelings, decide where this relationship is headed….”
Meanwhile, our hero is likely to be thinking things like…
“Six months already? Man, time’s flown. It was right around the time I smashed the car that we met, so I guess that’s right. Geez, I better get the old girl serviced in the next week or so, ’cause she’s starting to use a bit of oil again….”
Remember, if you’re writing dual point of view, then it has to be dual point of view-two very different voices, two very different viewpoints.
“How to Keep Your Heroes from Driving You Insane” by Kerri-Leigh Grady
“Wearing Two Hats: The Challenge of Writing Male and Female Characters” by Sharon Stewart