Today I’m sharing a portion of Ronie Kendig’s fascinating piece on creating believable male characters, a topic I’ve spoken and written about before, as two of the three characters that drive the narrative of my literary mystery (The Angry Woman Suite) are male, and I am not … so, whether you’re Wally Lamb and writing from the female point of view (She’s Come Undone), or as I and Ronie Kendig (Dead Reckoning/link below) have done, from a male perspective, how the heck do you do that and get it right? Here are Ronie’s thoughts:
“Writing is a literary expression of who we are, what we feel and how we think. It would be correct to say that in order to write the male POV accurately , one must understand the way men think (I hear many ladies snickering right now). That line of thought led me to the Gender Genie and/or Gender Guesser, an online program that analyzes chunks of writing to determine the author’s gender. The algorithm used is based off a study done between Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, which found indicators within documents that were distinctively male and distinctively female.
The point is, while generalizations about males and females are often exaggerated, they are based in truth—there are differences in the way men and women talk and think. Writers have the great task of translating the known differences into plausible, compelling fiction and characters. To do that, we refer back to the science. And remember, these are generalizations.
- Men provide answers that assume the receiver has no knowledge of the topic/object being discussed. In other words, they talk and act to provide INFORMATION.
- Men tend to state demands (“Give me an iced tea.”) rather than preferences (“I’d like a Diet Coke, please.”) the way a woman would.
- Men usually do not answer all questions or respond to everything said
- Men are one-box thinkers. They say what they mean and focus on one topic. Typically, there’s no reading between the lines.
- While men internalize their thoughts, they are generally not thinking about feelings. Paragraphs of internal diatribe on feelings do not belong in a man’s POV (or at least not heavily).
- Men are not verbose. They take the shortest possible route through a discussion; unlike ladies who can cover ten topics with one conversation, (we’re just talented that way!).
- While a man might notice a woman’s curves (just keeping it real), they aren’t likely to notice what the woman is wearing (“Hey, is that a new Kate Spade dress?”).
- At a dinner party, the men are more prone to chat up friends, but women will have stronger radars, noticing not just who is there, but relational aspects (Why is John sitting so close to Sue?) because women are about INVOLVEMENT, connecting, relationships.
- Use appropriate verbs. Men do not giggle. They chuckle. They guffaw (a strange word in and of itself).”
Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat. She married a veteran, and together their lives are never dull with four children and two dogs–a Golden Retriever and a Maltese Menace. Ronie’s degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters. Since launching onto the publishing scene, Ronie’s Rapid-Fire Fiction has hit the CBA Bestseller List, won the prestigious Christy Award, named to 2012 Bestselling Fiction by Christianbook.com, finaled in numerous contests and reader awards, including ACFW Carol Awards, RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Awards, Christian Retailing’s Readers’ Choice Awards, INSPY Award, The Christian Manifesto Lime Awards, and FamilyFiction’s Readers’ Choice Awards. Ronie’s titles include her debut title and spy thriller–DEAD RECKONING–the Discarded Heroes series (NIGHTSHADE, DIGITALIS, WOLFSBANE, FIRETHORN), the A Breed Apart series (TRINITY:MILITARYWAR DOG, TALON:COMBAT TRACKING TEAM, BEOWULF: EXPLOSIVES DETECTION DOG) and the upcoming (2014) The Quiet Professionals (RAPTOR 6, HAWK, FALCON). Ronie’s writings are also in the 7 Hours direct-to-digital novella collection (WHOLE PIECES), Central Park Rendezvous novella collection (DREAM A LITTLE DREAM), and the Denali Dreams novella collection (DARING HEIGHTS, TAKING FLIGHT). Ronie can be found at http://www.roniekendig.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction), Twitter (@roniekendig