Ask a male author about your male character traits or thoughts.

Amazon links to my stories: Autumn Breeze, A More Perfect Union, Double Happiness, The Wolves of Sherwood Forest, Neanderthals and the Garden of Eden can be found down the right side of the blog.

Friday, July 6, 2012

HEADS DOWN, July 6, 2012

Heads Down, July 6, 2012

I can’t always be pithy. But I can get down and dirty. I hear a lot of talk about six-pack abs with my RWA friends and see it in a huge number of romance novels. I never gave it much thought until I watched the U.S. Olympic trials in swimming this summer through the eyes of a male romance writer trying to make it in a predominantly female business. I used to be a champion butterflyer, so I had focused on stroke, dive, and turn mechanics rather than the way muscles looked unless they were the sleek bodies of the women competitors.

But the guys, Lochte, Phelps, etc. have smooth or nearly smooth, flat abdomens. Most swimmers do as well. Lumpy doesn’t work well with the total body stretching to produce speed (it’s not just arms, hands, feet, and legs that make a champion (swimmer)).

My main point here is that far too many heroes are described as having the ‘ideal’ six-pack abs which borders or stereotyping and cliché (although not one female reader will mind). This, in a roundabout way, does get me back to guys’ POV. We swimmers want to be recognized with our shirts off. The Arnold Swartzeneggers of the world could be anchors on our teams, because they’d sink to the bottom. Some guys, do read romances, and sometimes a fresh perspective is appreciated by female readers.

“No muscle bound man, Could take my hand, From my guy.” Mary Wells.

Some women like less muscle, some more, some lumpy, some not. Mary Wells sings about qualities a lot of women want.

Maybe some women prefer swimmers, besides we can hold our breath.

1964: Mary Wells Original recording of My Guy,


  1. Nice blog! I swam in high school and college. And I've always thought that swimmers had the best bodies of all the athletes. They have the long, lean bodies of a runner with some of the muscles of the other athletes.

    1. Hi LJ,

      Literally if I build-up I slow down in the pool. I long since stopped trying to look beefy. A funny thing happened to me when butterflying in my teens, my chest and shoulders broadened by 2 inches 38 to 40, a lot of my buddies stayed "normal." Well, it takes all kinds, nothing against the weight lifters. The only thing I want to lift is a rose.

  2. I loved this! My husband is a Masters Swimmer - actually at the Nationals in Omaha as we speak. So, naturally the naval officer hero in my novel grew up as a swimmer and still is-including a scene during swim call in the Persian Gulf. Butterfly is his thing and the heroine continually talks about his shoulders. But I gotta admit, Ryan Lochte's abs look pretty darn good :-)

    1. What a great experience for your hubby. Swimming is one of those exercises you can do your whole life. Great cardio, great for maintaining or losing weight. LA fitness was closed for renovations for three weeks. I switched to just swimming and lost 4 pounds.

      Who is your hubby, if you don't mind telling. I'll look for him. And your book, please tell us here when you have it ready. I'll patch in your blurb etc and we'll do a Q&A.

      About describing swimmers' abs, maybe:
      washboard (used more in period)
      taunt, flat, hard
      the long smooth abdominal muscles of a swimmer

      Got any you'd care to share?

  3. Great blog Bob!!!

    And you're right it does take all kinds... :)