Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Silence of the Man

A real hero speaks less and acts more. True. But in our stories, our heroes have to talk a bit more than our dudes in real life. And that adds a layer of complication to writing if one is a female. Let's face it, I'm not a boy. I don't think like a boy or a man. I don't speak in one word sentences (okay, my darling husband would love it if that were true!). Yet, my heroes must say more than, "Honey, where's my last pair of clean underwear?" Or better yet, "Huh? Grunt? Pass the beer nuts. Cowboys are playing. Pass the beer."

My dudes have to be sensitive and strong. Alpha and beta rolled into one amazing, finely chiseled man who is ultra cool and looks great in jeans, tuxes, nothing at all.

As Austin Powers would say, "Yeah baby."

But this is fiction so I get to play a bit with my heroes. I can layer a bit of internal dialogue into their interactions with my heroines. So even if they aren't talking to my heroines, the reader knows that the guy really does like, want, care, have an "oh man, I am in love and now I am freaked" feeling for my heroine.

Hard to finesse. Hard to write. I usually have to run my "guy speak" through a male filter (which ironically is a female writer who knows how to write "guy speak"). I also like to sit around and listen to the dudes in the real world talk. Where can I hear what they have to say? Well, hang around a bunch of retired military men and you'll get some good intel on "guy speak." Or spend an hour at any male dominated event like a football game, a hockey game.

Go to a bar. Don't go alone. But go and sit and listen. I once spent an hour every Monday at the local Holiday Inn Express bar writing and listening. The bartenders knew me and left me alone. I was relatively safe cause the local regulars knew I was married and had shown up there with my darling husband on occasion. Why? Well, it was close to my darling daughter's dance studio. I'd rather sit in a bar filled with business travelers and grizzled construction workers than at a dance studio with a bunch of moms discussing their daughters' varying dance talents.

But that's just me. Plus, I got to drink a glass of wine. All good. And all in the name of "research."

Where do you go to understand "guy speak?" Books? Bars? Games? Did you have lots of brothers? A great father image? Are your real life heroes alpha or beta or a combo of both? And how do you limit the guy's talk without limiting the romance sizzle?


Talli Roland said...

I laughed when I read this, because all through one of my drafts my editor kep writing: is he gay? Is he a woman? A man wouldn't say this...

So true. It never clicked that I had to pay extra attention to the man's dialogue, but when I do I always conjure up men at pubs. It's rife with examples!

Christine said...

Hi Talli! Welcome back from Canada!! I love how your editor calls you on your "guy speak."