Monday, May 23, 2011

Writing From a Male POV

Writing from the point of view of the opposite sex can be challenging. Viewing the world from another perspective requires that we abandon our natural instincts. Since the books in my series, The Circle of Friends, featured a male lead, I had to understand the differences.

I read dozens of relationship books, seeking to comprehend the distinct qualities of the male gender. The books that provided me with the most insight were Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus and the Connecting With Your Husband/Wife series. Men and women really do view the world through different eyes!

- Men are not detail-oriented, at least not in the area of observation. They are focused on the big picture. When a man walks into a room, it’s doubtful he will notice the pattern on the couch or the smell of flowers by the window.

- Men tend to process information internally. While a woman will discuss her situation with friends, a man will privately think through his problems. Men tend to internalize rather than verbalize when seeking an answer. If he does discuss the situation, he wants answers not support.

- Because men normally do not discuss their problems, they use fewer words than women – by half! They tend to verbalize facts and opinions rather than feelings, too.

- Men focus better than women, who rely more on ‘diffused awareness.’ Once a man selects a course of action, little can distract him. While women multi-task with ease, men tend to focus on one thing at a time.

- Due to the amount of testosterone a man’s brain receives before he is born, he cannot think both logically and emotionally at the same time. Thus, when a man offers a logical explanation, a woman’s emotional reasoning simply doesn’t compute. And when a man grows angry, rationalizing with him is difficult as logic has gone out the window at that point.

- Men are not as emotionally expressive as their female counterparts. They are simply not wired in that manner.

- Last but not least, women seek to connect emotionally while men seek to connect… physically. The stirrings of love in a man come from physical attraction and contact first, emotional attachment second.

While all of that may appear to be stereotyping, it does provide a fundamental base for the male POV. Environment, background, and basic personality type also factor into the equation.

Armed with this knowledge, I found writing from a male perspective much easier. It was refreshing to discard my women intuitions and interpretations and just deal with the basics. I’d say it was almost liberating!

Are you comfortable writing from the opposite sex's POV?


Jules said...

I think that I was born with too much testosterone, mom wished for a boy the entire time she was carrying me. I sort of get men :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Anne Gallagher said...

I'm very comfortable writing from the man's POV, however, reading this fabulous list, it seems I may have to go in and tweak my latest hero, just a bit. Great post, thanks.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Are you saying we're simple? I resemble that!

Eric W. Trant said...

I read the Mars book a long time ago, along with The Five Love Languages. They're good base points, but as with anything, it's only a beginning, not the whole shebang, sorta like knowing you need a ball and a glove and a bat to play baseball and that's all you know.

The only way to learn is to play!

I write interchangeably between women and men. I'm not bisexual except when I write. I have no issues getting into a woman's head, or diving back into the man's. I don't think about it. I act. I react.

Same as a pitcher in baseball, returning to that analogy. He knows he wants the ball to go from here to there, and he has some basics on how to make it happen, but he doesn't worry the details of balance and arm and release and all the trillions of calculations that come between the windup and the release.

He simply pitches the dang ball.

My latest piece has two prominent females, one of which is the MC.

It's funny when I write a woman's POV, because she tends to be more emotional, less rational, and has more internalizations. She thinks more, and I'm in her head deeper. She has ~emotions~ and they are undercurrents for everything she does -- not logic.

But when I write a guy, it's more visual. They tend to be more stoic and point-blank, more crass, practical and reasoning. They have logic, and reason, but when they feel emotion, it is deep, deep, deep inside them. Nothing about a man is on the surface.

Anyway, play around with it. Let guys read your guy parts and see what they think. I wrote a story about a teenage girl, and used a flighty and almost ADD voice, and one of my readers said I ~nailed~ the way a teenage girl thinks!

Weird. Don't think about the details too much. You said guys look at the big picture, and for me that's true. Let your instincts take over, write what you feel, and I bet it'll be spot-on.

- Eric

notesfromnadir said...

I've written 2 books from a male POV & it was very educational for me on many levels.

Shari said...

Those were excellent! I am writing a story from a male viewpoint and it is really tricky. More than once I've had a reader tell me that they don't think I boy would say that!

Anonymous said...

I've always written from a female perspective, and it's always turned into a mess, or I lose interest in her. Writing from a male POV intimidated me, mainly because well, I'm not a man! I don't want to pretend to know how men think, and it's hard to place myself into their perspective. But after having written a novel from a male POV (first person, nonetheless!), I don't think I'll be going back to a female POV for a while. I really enjoy the directness and flexibility. Just have to remember that men have emotions, too!

Helen Ginger said...

I do write from the male POV, but mostly I stick with the female (protagonist's) POV. You're totally right that men and women are wired different!

Tamara Narayan said...

Thanks for the information. I have written from both POVs and sometimes I think writing from a male POV is more fun. When I write from a female POV I have to make sure I don't use my own opinions, personality, etc.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I've read Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, a long time ago. I do struggle when writing the male POV.

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

This is go-o-o-d. Thanks for allowing us to benefit from your hard research.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I haven't tried to write from a male POV before. I do think it would be tricky--you've got great tips to help with the bumpy spots. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I like writing from the male pov too! It's fun to stretch my brain that way :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jules, I've always gotten men, too.

Eric, I think you've got it!

Shari, my husband helps me with that a lot!

Tamara, it is more fun.

Elizabeth, you should give it a try sometime.

Anonymous said...

I do like reading male POV novels, Nick Hornby being one of my favourites. And I recently picked up two teen books to study written in male POV. And will book mark this post to help me as well. Thanks!

Southpaw said...

I getting comfortable, because my next novel has a male MC.

Anonymous said...

Good subject and good points. I am comfortable writing from a woman's POV - and have received several reviews crediting my capabilities in that regard. Probably from knowing and living with so many women (and being dominated by women all my life, lol!) - but a writer really has to change from pants to panties or visa versa to get it right, hmm?

Did you know that Stephen King's breakout novel, Carrie, he had thrown the ms away, cuz he thought he just couldn't write from a teenage girl's POV very well? Yup, and his wife found the ms in the trash can, read it and loved it, encouraged him to finish it and submit it. True story!

Lori M. Lee said...

My MC is male and I've been writing from a boy's pov for years so I think I have a decent grasp. I hope? haha

Great post though. Definitely bookmarking this one.

Donea Lee said...

I have a story idea I'd like to attempt from a male pov - and my male secondary characters seem believable enough. But, a little research into what makes men tick is always helpful. Thanks for the tips here!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Marvin, whatever works for you!

Thanks and hope these tips were helpful.

Charlie said...

What a great post! thanks for the tips on writing the masculine viewpoint. Excellent site.
C.K. Volnek