Sunday, May 6, 2012

Her Lilac Blouse Complimented Her Eyes --- MY FOOT!

Ah, the male mind. What woman can truly comprehend its complexity? As an author of romantic fiction, I certainly try – quite a feat, although having a husband and 3 sons helps.

Still, I don’t think like a guy. Case in point, I would have once described, in great length, a woman’s attire as she strode into a room at the very point when the handsome hero gets his first glimpse of her. In his viewpoint, I’d elaborate on details of each article of her clothing.

Well, I’ve since learned that if I’m writing the scene from a male’s point-of-view, he wouldn’t likely notice how her lilac-colored blouse complimented the hue of her violet-blue eyes.

Some men might, yes. But most men – particularly alpha heroes – probably would not.

To illustrate this point, I conducted my own personal survey. That’s right. I emailed my grown sons. I consider them “alpha” males, so I asked them if they’d noticed the clothing their significant others wore the first time they’d met (shirt, jeans, skirt, dress, etc). My sons’ replies were as follows:

“Mom, are you kidding me?”
“Mom, is this for one of your books?”
“You don’t want to know what we noticed, Mom. We’re dudes, ok?”
So much for the lilac-colored blouse complimenting her eyes.

Of course, I can recall the clothing my sons’ girlfriends wore when I first met them. One gal was in Army fatigues with her hair pulled back into a tight bun, as she and my son had just come from their weekend duty. Another was casual, wearing jeans and a tee shirt. Another had on a cute jumper and wore her hair all curled and femininely cute.

But, realize this: I was “the mom” checking these new girlfriends out – and I’m a writer who is trained to notice details.

The average guy is not.

But I went ahead with my survey anyway and asked the top alpha male in my household. My husband. He said that when we met he first noticed my blue eyes. Then he noticed that I had a pretty smile. (Aw…okay, he gets to eat supper tonight.)

My point is this: be true to your characters. If you’re in your male character’s POV, then think like a guy. And men, don’t snicker. You’ve got the same problems – women’s points of view. Sometimes I’ll pick up a book written by a male writer and find I just cannot get into the story because I can’t relate to the female character. She doesn’t think like I do – or any woman I know, for that matter. And I love it (NOT) when male writers assume that just because she’s a woman their female characters can have mood swings to fit the scenes and/or plotlines. No, male writers still need to do character charts and all their characters should have believable motivations. Not all women kill somebody simply because it’s that time of the month.
But never fear, all you bewildered bards, Gender Genie is here! That’s right. There is a website dedicated to help writers check their characters’ points of view. Simply copy and paste a scene into the Genie Gender and it’ll come back telling you whether its orientation is male or female.

Of course, Gender Genie is a computer-generated program so it doesn’t have the corner on character viewpoints. However, it is a tool. Authors are the ones who need to know and understand their characters’ thoughts and the motives behind their actions.

So now I’m curious what readers say. Has the viewpoint of the opposite sex in any book(s) you’ve read really bugged you because he or she just didn’t think like a guy or girl would – or should?  I’d love to hear from you.


Beth Shriver said...

I never knew about the Genie, ha! I loved your son's responses:)

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

And the lilac should have been a clue. Guys see in color groups, not in color shades. So what we call rose or peach is only pink to them. And for styles, very few men would notice the style of the dress. I chuckle when I read some aspiring authors' manuscripts. Then I try to steer them the right way.

babette said...

Whenever I read male POV and they're describing something someone is wearing I immediately question their sexual orientation. I have a father, three brothers, a husband and two sons, and have never had them notice anything beyond whether I'm in pants or a dress (that's pushing it), and they certainly don't remember later. My husband will pick up on if it's a bright color or not, but rolls his eyes if I try to tell him it's teal, not blue.

I also loved your sons responses. They sound like true alpha males!