Solving the Mystery of the Male POV

The first part of my series on POV covered the basics of Point of View. If you missed it, you can find it here. The second part covered Deep POV, which you can find here.

Today we'll explore that deep, dark, often scary area known as the Male POV. No, that’s not the Male Power of Veto (you’ll find that on CBS’ show Big Brother). Instead, we’ll look at writing the Male Point of View, which may not be all that easy since most writers of romance are women. Here are a few links and snippets of articles I found online that I hope you'll find helpful and maybe a bit enlightening:

Anatomy of the Male Mind: Women Writing in the Male POV (Milton Grasle)

In my opinion, a woman would need to find out all she could about how men react to certain situations and explore the male process of reasoning. She might read what she considers to be accomplished men and women who write in male POV. I believe the biggest trap that a woman might fall into is… not remembering that most romance is not only written by women but read by women also.

Can Women Write from a Male POV? (Juanita McConnachie)

… you can edit your writing into a male POV. I think that with a little research, and a bit of help, I should be able to make my male POV, sound more... well... male. Keep in mind, I am not writing for a male audience (specifically). Nevertheless, an authentic male 'tone' is necessary for these chapters.

Make POV Work for You: Writing the Male POV (Kaye Dacus)

But one of the most important things to know about men is that they say what they mean and mean what they say. They don’t mince words, they don’t beat around the bush, they don’t drop hints and hope someone else will catch on and understand what they’re not saying. Now that doesn’t mean that they say everything that’s on their mind—they can be very judicious with the words they choose to let loose, which gives lots of opportunity for subtexting. But he’s not only not going to try to wheedle and hint his way into something, he’s going to get extremely frustrated by a woman who does.

Male POV (Keri Arthur)

When I first told my husband I was doing an article on writing from a male point of view, he said, why bother? According to him, men are easy. There’s one layer, nothing fancy. What you see is what you get. What they say is what they mean. Unlike woman. He reckons we’re the ones that should come with a manual, and even then, he doubts if males will ever have a chance of understanding us.

Man Up: Writing Male POV (Roni Griffin)

(Note from Penny: Be sure to check out the illustration at the top of this blog post!)

I personally find male characters fun and almost easier to write than my female characters. But that may be because in life, I've always been more comfortable around guys (well, when it comes to being friends, once I was romantically interested in a guy, I turned into an awkward mess). So, I've spent a lot of time with groups of guy friends, have seen how they interact, and of course, I'm married to one, so that helps. :)

Virginia’s Guide to Guy-Speak (Virginia Kantra)

Critics have argued that the romance genre portrays men not as they are but as women wish they would be. … To illustrate how gender impacts characterization, point of view, action, and dialogue - okay, pretty much everything - I offer this guide to guy-speak.

Write Like a Man! (Anita Mae Draper)

Some things are the same for both genders, like wanting to be loved, safe, happy, respected, honored and successful.But as writers who want to write using a male point of view (POV), we need to observe and listen to males in action.

Note from Penny: Wanna chuckle? Check out this video, Men’s Brains vs Women’s Brains

Writing from a Male Point of View (L. Diane Wolfe)

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!

(Note from Penny: Be sure to read the comments following the post!)

So I tried to apply what I know of men in an observational capacity. No overtalking. Check. Not as skilled at communicating as a woman, at least as a general. Check. A fix-it mentality about everything from broken toasters to complex life issues. Check.

That’s probably a pretty good start. But then I have to worry about getting said “male characterization” across for a generally female audience. Because in a romance, we don’t want the average beer-swilling, thinking-about-sex guy. We want the Prince Charmings. Believable Prince Charmings.

What we have is the complexity of writing the male character to appeal to the female fantasy. No easy task indeed.


In your own work, do you write in the male POV? Have any tips to share? Do you like to read stories featuring the male POV?

If you’re a guy and you’re reading this blog, do you have anything extra to share? Any opinions on the links I’ve shared?


Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I’m a writer and I generally do romance or stories with strong romantic elements. Meaning I can’t get away from writing the male POV. I actually do enjoy doing the male POV. I usually pick from men I know as well as TV/movie characters to create my male characters’ voice. I also have a few friends I rely on to flag non-male sounding dialogue etc. But in writing, the only thing I’m aware of doing is putting myself in my characters’ shoes – to be ‘them’ and not ‘me’. It also applies to heroines, because I don’t want them all to sound like me.

On a few occasions, I’ve actually caught myself thinking something like, “Peter would never say it like that; although, Bill would.”


Penny Rader said...

Hi Empi! Thanks for joining in on the conversation. That's a great idea -- bouncing dialogue, etc. off guys friends. I especially like your comment “Peter would never say it like that; although, Bill would.” Sounds like you definitely have a handle on not only creating male characters, but also creating characters that don't sound like each other.

Sue Barr said...

Most men in my life, and I'm the sole female in my household, have a conquer mentality.
Driving for vacation - conquer the drive. There will be only necessary breaks for body functions.
Need new clothes - conquer the shopping mall. There will be no trying on different sizes or colors (unless it's a hand tool, and then we can weigh them in the palm of our hand for hours)

That pretty well sums it up for our house.

Penny Rader said...

LOL, Sue. Thanks for sharing! My son's b-day was Sunday. Sunday evening I asked my dh if he had said Happy Birtday to our son. His response: "He didn't say it to me on my birthday." I just looked at him. His response: "It's a guy thing." Argh.

JJ said...

Hi! Just wanted to say thanks for linking me in your article :) Glad you found it helpful enough to pass my blog on!

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Penny, great post. I am close to my hubby, bil, and son and hope I get the male thing done pretty okay LOL. I agree with your hubby, men don't beat around the bush. One thing I learned: they're less wordy, too. Don't speak in full sentences (Well, does anybody LOL?)

This really doesn't have to do with writing, but it's funny. I heard on a radio show recently that women tend to have five or six sexual thoughts a day. Men have them...every thirty seconds LOL.

Tanya Hanson said...

Oh, and thank God for GPS. They DON'T and WON'T ask for directions.

Stephanie Burkhart said...

I think with men, less is more. Nice article about a different perspective.


Penny Rader said...

Hi Juanita! I apologize for not including your name with the article (it's fixed now). Thanks for the super article. :D

Penny Rader said...

Too funny, Tanya.

My dh hates it when I ask two questions in one sentence, such as "Do you want to make hamburgers or tacos for supper?" (He does most of the cooking now.) He'll say "yes." Not "hamburgers" or "tacos," just "yes." Grrr.

This past weekend we were just talking about men and their aversion to getting directions while traveling to the KC area for my grandson's pre-season football tournament (watching 8 yr olds play football cracks me up). We didn't have a GPS unit with us, but my dh was giving our daughter (who was driving) grief about having Mapquest directions. We did not get lost. :D

Penny Rader said...

Hi Steph. I do agree that with most men less is more. A grunt here and a grunt there. ;D Though I do know one or two who will talk your ear off. Thanks for visiting!

Debra St. John said...

Great tips and thoughts. Soemtimes getting into the male mind set can be difficult. I like what you said about editing into the male POV.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for dropping by, Debra. I'm glad you found the articles helpful. The part about editing into the male POV really got my attention, probably because revising is easier for me than getting the words on the page in the first place.

Rox Delaney said...

As was mentioned in at least one of the articles, we are writing for women. And that's almost exclusively. While there are men who read romance, the percentage is very, very small. We put things in our heroes' heads that we want them to think. We give them words to say that we want them to say. We give them feelings we want them to feel. (And, oh, that's a big one!) Guess what? It's okay!

Boil it all down into three simple words: We write fantasy.