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.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Writer's Handbook

Last night on the Hallmark premier of Dater’s Handbook, the writer or writers painted themselves into a corner. Meghan Markle played the heroine. She is dating two men using techniques prescribed in a doctor’s bestseller on dating. One of the men left a note when he left her that the dog knocked over to the floor. Her sister said, quoting from the dating book, that the lack of a note (etiquette) was a deal breaker.
Shortly after the sister scene, she rejects by phone the suiter. We are left wondering if the lack of a note caused the breakup.
As a guy and a writer, this bothered me, especially when the note was never mentioned again. In spite of it, I enjoyed the movie. It also bothered me because the note was lying on the floor of her home and to think it wouldn’t have been picked up day after day is absurd. Every house cleaner, if she had one, knows not to throw away personal notes. No, the dog would not have eaten the paper note. That would be a case of dog ex-machina.
As a guy (and this blog is about guys and the way they think and act), we want to identify with the hero, to see him validated, not settled for. Many thoughtful men in the hero’s shoes would want to understand what caused the rejection so that he may set the record straight or know how to improve. None of that happened. Yes, the hero was happy-go-lucky. And yes, the conversation probably would occur off camera.
I know time is valuable in a two hour movie, but 20 seconds could have been invested in her waving the note and saying she had made a mistake, not only because the note went missing for a while but because she was following the book’s advice and made some mistakes.
You may say, that I as a writer am over analyzing this. Nop. My wife brought it up. She reads romances voraciously and knows when something is missing.

All that being said, Hallmark is putting out premier after premier, still (and it is so wrong) employing all white people in the leads, but still enjoyable and almost always impeccably written.
Promo for Dater's Handbook, 2016:
 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Save The Cat’s Nine Lives

The classic, Save the Cat!, was written by Blake Snyder as a book on screenwriting technique, but it’s principles apply to all fiction. Its title means that moment, generally in the first scene, when the writer humanizes a character. The writer uses shorthand or a quick beat(s) to establish a more likable character, i.e. usually someone the reader/movie goer can begin to identify with. The writer doesn’t need to save a cat, although it has been done. In a story I wrote, right on the first page my heroine, in interior monologue, denigrates the hero (her opponent). But in a moment’s thought worries if he is all right. Injured, he had survived an assassination attempt.
There’s a common misunderstanding about this moment. The save-the-cat moment never ends with one beat or one moment or one character. One should never forget to humanize a typically flawed character who is on a journey of change. Change is the essence of good fiction and change for the better is the essence of all happily-ever-afters. This means the writer should not drop the cat once the technique is shown. The character grows from the beginning, through the middle and to the end. It ain’t over until the fat cat meows, and we go to black.
But don’t get preachy unless it’s an inspirational. In any case, show, don’t tell.
Saving the cat is like moving a subordinate phrase to the beginning of a sentence, ahead of subject, predicate and object. That is to say, before the reader/movie goer knows much at all.
Don’t overuse the technique, but don’t forget it. Always plowing straight ahead can cause a monotonous, somnambulistic effect on a dwindling audience.
Some recommend counting to ten, before letting go of your manuscript. Just count to nine.

An excellent example of saving the cat at various strategic moments by both hero and heroine and throughout the story occurs in the Hallmark movie, Unleashing Mr. Darcy, which premiered last night. The movie is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice.

 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It’s a Bad Day to Die

When James Bond is about to die at the hands of a female antagonist, he finds a way to turn the tables, and delivers some pun or quip related to her sex. When it’s a guy the remarks, although puns, are just about business, loyalty to Country, right over wrong.

Did he take time to think about his quip and ignore—for even a second—the threat to his life? No. We are all endowed with massive brains that never stop assessing/multiprocessing all incoming sensory details, whether conscious of them or not. The need to survive is closely tied to the need to mate.

Is what he says fiction? Yep. Just like what you write for eager readers. But is there truth in his actions and words? We can’t all be ready with one-liners but our heroes and heroines can. They represent the best within us.
 
Why do we have a need to survive and what are we surviving for? We survive to celebrate the true meaning of life. Congratulations romance writers, you are on top of this. No other genre is more poignant. Although Bond tries to avoid commitment, he sports a perfect excuse. His job is too dangerous, so we forgive him. Maybe, we hope, he secretly yearns for a normal life and someone to love.

There’s a hero and heroine on a motorcycle, in a jungle, with hardly any clothes. She’s clinging to his back. Bullets are flying. Remembering how she looked when he rescued her and how she feels now, he’ll mutter. “It’s bad day to die.”

You may ask how can he think about sex at a time like this. He’s not really. He wants to save her so he can mate her, and so life goes on. Of course, heroes and heroines save for other reasons, but they all spring out of a love of live and a need to share.
 
Do women assess men when in danger? Of course. They’re hard wired, in a different way than men. They may not know it consciously, but it’s there in your interior monologue, if only for a fleeting moment.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Wash and Wear Heroine*

Is your hero a pragmatist or realist? Or a mixture? It’s important as it relates to love (or any story). An idealist will do everything he can, every moment he is given, to insure the success of the relationship. This type of hero is also more likely to think his gal is 100%. He doesn't needlessly worry about her feelings or commitment but always nurtures them.
A realist will except the divorce rate, and hope and work for the best. He won’t think about mystical concepts like soul mates. He too will tend to do reasonable things to keep the relationship going and growing. There’s good in both positions and most people are a mixture of both. The mixed hero may treat the love match as something eternal while worrying about his partner’s dedication.
On the negative side of these philosophies, the idealist may lose touch with reality. The pragmatist might not feel enough to save a faltering relationship.
Before writing reactions that show these philosophies, it’s important to decide who your hero is down to his core and why and how (backstory) he got there.

*The title refers to someone who is easy to relate to or low maintenance. Which hero is more likely to think of or be attracted to a heroine because she's low maintenance?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Guys don’t wear make-up so why should you?


I’ve written about this before from a slightly different perspective and not covering the following nuance.

Women sometimes dress, put make-up and act to attract men. But most guys basically don’t care. Sure they’ll notice, but are you their type? I’ll venture to say that every man has preferences and sometimes getting to know a woman trumps that.

Let’s say you’re a busty Barbie-doll blonde when the guy you’ve set in your sights on, secretly prefers skinny Asians. That guy can’t help but turn his head to take you in because that’s his base physiology. To put it another way, it’s instinct or it’s the way God made man.

The only way you’ll get anywhere with this particular guy is to show off your life values and personality. He may very well fall in love, but he’ll never tell you you’re not his type. Why, because he loves you and he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. From personal experience, I can tell you that he will enjoy you, very much.

This particular guy may pay attention to the blonde and appreciate her femininity, but he’s unlikely to pursue her.

There’s a difference between noticing somebody’s beauty and really being attracted to her.

Here’s a funny way of looking at this: Guys don’t wear make-up. They may be wearing two different colored socks, so why would they care about your eye shadow or short shorts.

I realize that many women dress to please themselves, but we are talking about the male POV in a romance or other genre. So, if you are writing a male character keep in mind how they perceive God’s most beautiful creation even if the beauty before them is not their cup of tea.