Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Creating Manly-men

I threatened to blog about this, and it's worthy of a longer discussion. I've always been a fan of Robin Hood, Men in Tights. I love it when they break out the Broadway number and start singing. It's good when you do it with a wink and a sidelong look, but being all dead-serious and offended when people tell you your men act and sound like your women isn't cool. (and this has nothing at all to do with that post on divas, 'cause I never read her story.)

It's so common. lol, let me repeat that--it's so common because we're women, and we think and act, and sound like women. I came on this discussion the other day--where I can't remember, but it was about if a woman grew up in an all male household, would she necessarily sound and act like a man? The argument was that no--not if there was any female influence at all. It didn't matter if it was family influence, or outside influence. We tend to flow into our genetic molds. The only exception being if they lived on a desert island, all alone, with no women anywhere at all. Then the woman wouldn't have a model and would pattern herself on what was available to her.

This doesn't mean that a woman can't change certain behaviors just that most people...really don't want to. They're okay with being what they are, and since it's not like you can wake up and say, "okay--today, I'll be a man," ihmo, it's not worth the aggravation.

That said--it's pretty logical that unless you put significant thought into the creation and maintenance of a man, the man will sound like your internal pattern. I see a lot of touchy-feelie guys in the course of editing, and it's not bad enough that the heroine just spent the last ten minutes oogling his "narrow waist and bulging thighs" or his big hands ('cause you know, big hands mean big...yeah) but then, this absolute mountain of masculinity opens his mouth and blurts out his certainty that the heroine really wants a cup of tazo latte and he'd like to get to know her--and not in that way.

C'mon, I don't know too many guys who know what a tazo latte is (Cowboy excepted, he's a little on the special side, lol), and they sure as hell don't want to be seen in a Starbucks trying to explore some woman's feelings. It's a guy-thing. They might drive-thru and park somewhere--somewhere nobody they know will see them actually "talking" to a woman--but they're not going to be sensitive (unless of course, it is a sensitive guy, and there are some) unless they're already in a relationship.

Men--imho--are pack animals. Sure, every alpha male has his alpha female, but letting all those betas see a weakness? That'd put him in the one-down position. A totally believable story arc would have the man being all manly in the beginning, and over the course of the story arc, realizing he needs to open up to his female, or risk loosing her--betas be damned. But, not until the black moment. It's not logical, and it's not guy-like for a man to start out already there. He doesn't know this women. He doesn't love her--at least, not yet. Why the hell would he want to go belly up? There are lots of women out there that will take him the way he is. What is it about this one woman that makes him want to strip away the whole "me Tarzan, you'd better get my beer" thing?

And descriptions. This is the one area where I have to say--hey, look. If you layer in enough background, or make it logical a man will think of a woman a certain way--then yes, you can put in silken tresses--if the guy is a hairdresser. It's the whole, he's in love with her--look over here. If he wasn't in love with her, would he call her razor cut bob, silken tresses? And compare her to a dove, or pick out the one color in the box of crayolas that describes her anthracite locks?

Just because he's in love doesn't make him Cyrano de Bergerac. He's going to use the same vocabulary he had before, because it is his vocabulary. The man who thinks the prettiest thing in the world is his Ford F-350 is probably going to say, "baby, you're better lookin' than my truck." And y'know, that's a compliment. It might not have the same ring as "your azure eyes, and anthracite tresses arouse me, my darling." But it is more true to life.


Alice Audrey said...

The thing about "You're better looking than my truck" is how well it works for comedy. I love humor.

jodi said...

hmmm, strange that I opened up my blog to anonymous people and get randomly strange bloggers. s'odd. Okay, comment, away you go.

jodi said...

I love humor too, Alice. I can just see it in a Coen brothers movie. A guy and his girl and his truck. :)

Unhinged said...

One of the things I've been more aware of lately is how much the female/male povs come across similar. (Are your spidey senses tingling?) I love being able to read a sentence in a book and know immediately, without being told, who the speaker or thinker is. They shouldn't all come across the same.

Someone once suggested that I write a scene from each character's perspective. I wouldn't necessarily have to use both of them for the story, but in doing so, I would have a much better understanding of what each character was feeling.

I have yet to do this, though.

Alice Audrey said...

Unhinged, try writing the same scene in one perspective, then again in the other. Give yourself permission to change the plot in order to accommodate the differences POV causes. It can be an eye opener.

liana laverentz said...

Also, if you're struggling with a scene, just can't get it to work, you can re-write it in another character's POV and see if you can jumpstart it that way. But usually the best POV to use in a scene is that of the character who has the most to lose.

Happy Day,