Monday, June 4, 2018

Say it Like a Man!

If you’re a female writer, have you ever mistakenly made your male characters speak like women?  I have!  As women, we emote; our language tends to be a bit more flowery, as well as effusive! 

My husband says, “Verbosity is unbecoming in a man.”  So now, whenever I write a scene involving a man, or men, doing  most of the talking, I read it to hubby, and he tells me if my men sound manly enough!

Not long ago, I attended a fantastic  workshop at my OVRWA monthly meeting, presented by writers Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens of, entitled Writing Men, for Women.

The workshop provided instruction to women, on how to write their male characters more effectively.

My favorite part of the workshop encompassed dialogue.  A few tips I learned are listed below:

Men use absolutes, rather than relative language. For example, “She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” is more realistic for male dialogue, instead of “She has to be one of the most beautiful women I‘ve ever seen.”

Men will not use long sentences. I once wrote a scene where an older man talked to his long lost son, and it went something like this: “I’m just glad you’ve accepted me. For a long time, I was afraid you wouldn’t.  So now our relationship, and where it goes, is up to you.”  My husband suggested replacing all those  rambling sentences with only one: “So...where do we go from here?”

Men use simpler vocabulary with fewer modifiers.  So rather than the hardened criminal saying, “I feel as if I could easily remove that ugly face of yours,” he’d probably exclaim, “I ought to rip your face off!”

Dialogue is action and action is dialogue for men.  In general, readers don’t trust male characters who talk a lot.  We wonder what a talker is hiding.  Heroes take action rather than talk.  Instead of discussing a way to save the heroine, the hero plans and executes it.

Hope you find this advice helpful!

Originally posted 5/21/12.


Norma said...

Surprisingly, I've been told I write male characters better than the female characters most of the time. Go figure.

William Kendall said...

That makes sense to me!

Maria McKenzie said...

@Norma: Must be nice that it comes easily to you;).

@William: Makes sense to me too, especially after it was brought to my attention:).