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Maprilynne
07-19-2006, 12:22 AM
The last novel I wrote was from the male protaganist's presepective and I think I've grown kind of comfortable with the male prospective. So my current romance is roughly half his point of view and half hers. I persoanlly think this is fine because it is not his story or her story; it is their story. But I have noticed a few publisher's guildlines reminding authors that the majority of the story should be from the heroine's point of view. What do you think? Do you think half and half works? I just got done with a novel by Amanda Quick whick I really loved and at least half of the book was form his point of view. I didn't even think about it that way until I got to thinking about my current WIP, but it worked for her. Any thoughts?

Maprilynne

veinglory
07-19-2006, 12:25 AM
Up to half and hlaf seems pretty common these days. Male POV less so--although not unheard of. I just pitched a male POV romance to an epublisher (Cobblestone) and they didn't seem at all perturbed by the idea.

Simon Woodhouse
07-19-2006, 12:40 AM
I've got an idea for a romance bubbling up inside me. It'll be 50/50, but the opening chapter will be from the male character's POV.

What's the ratio of male to female authors in the romance genre? I would imagine there are a lot more women than men.

veinglory
07-19-2006, 12:43 AM
Hi fellow Kiwi--yes mostly women, but a few men including at the top level.

Simon Woodhouse
07-19-2006, 12:57 AM
Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not a Kiwi – I moved here from the UK about two years ago. However, I am thinking of setting the romance in and around Auckland. As a city, I think it's often ignored by the rest of the world and dismissed by New Zealanders. I love it though, and it's head and shoulders above grimy old London. Driving across the harbour bridge from the north, with the CBD and the marina on the left, and the rest of the harbour on the right, the view is fab.

Sonarbabe
07-19-2006, 01:36 AM
I'd say the majority of my stories are 50/50 and if it's not, then you can be assured that it's 55/45. I like to have my guys to have a say in the story too. ;)

As for male authors, veinglory is correct. The majority is female, but there are several wonderful male romance authors. (two of my favorites are Leigh Greenwood and Tori Carrington)

JanDarby
07-19-2006, 03:47 AM
As noted, Jayne Ann Krentz (in that name and in her Quick/Castle/etc. pseudonyms -- I've been a fan of hers for years and years) tends to start books in the hero's POV, and I think if you analyze the stories, they're actually MORE the man's story than the woman's story (in terms of who changes the most, who has a real character arc), but told in a way that keys into female interests and fantasies than male interests/fantasies.

The heroes in Krentz's books tend to change a great deal more than the heroines. The women start out smart and strong and are smart and strong at the end, whereas the heroes start out wounded in some way and are healed in the course of the book. Oversimplification, of course, but I do think an argument could be made that they're really about the hero's changes, more than the heroine's changes, although the hero's changes are brought about by the heroine.

It's not at all uncommon in romance to tell the story from both POVs, and I'm not sure which publishers are suggesting it should be all from the women's POV. I recall a few years ago, there were some published experiments with some romances told exclusively from the hero's POV, but I don't recall hearing the verdict on them.

I think, to the extent the publishers are asking for female POV, it's more a matter of story expectations than what a writer thinks of as the POV. Romances are female fantasies (in the broad sense of "fantasy"), so if the story is told from the "point of view" (again, in the broad sense, not the writerly sense) of woomen. So, a story told from the "point of view" of what a male might think is romantic, it might well not appeal to the predominantly female readership of what the publishing industry labels "romance" today.

As an extreme example, if the hero is a 70-something six-time divorced man with a history of trading in wives for someone younger and prettier, and the heroine is an 18-year-old virgin looking for a Sugar Daddy, and they fall in love and live happily ever after, it might well meet the definition of "romance," and it might well be told exclusively from the POV of the 18-yo virgin, but unless the author does something really extraordinary with the story, it's not clearly not a female fantasy and it's not going to have the female perspective that the reader expects, and it's not going to appeal to a female audience or be what publishers would market as a "romance." Not saying anyone here would do that, only that I've seen such stories being labeled as romances by the (unpublished) author.

JD

Gillhoughly
07-19-2006, 04:36 AM
I just finished doing an edit on a romance for a friend that was 50/50 and it totally RAWKED. The story would have been okay from just the woman's POV, but the guy was so interesting and so well done that I can't imagine the book being without his POV.

The other thing she did that I love, love, LOVE about her writing was no mid-scene head-hopping. She always made a proper break when a scene ended, then took things up from the next POV to start a whole new scene.

I've seen writers do a break but hop to the other head while the same scene is still running, I suppose to get the other person's immediate reaction to what's going on. I don't care much for that device; it just makes me groan. I can almost hear the writer saying "look, Ma, no head-hopping, nyah-nyah" when it's just hopping with a marked break. It's better than with NO break, but still stops the flow for me.

This writer avoided that, and thus the story pushed forward smoothly. This is one of the few edit jobs I've done recently that I thoroughly enjoyed! :snoopy:

Simon Woodhouse
07-19-2006, 05:33 AM
The heroes in Krentz's books tend to change a great deal more than the heroines. The women start out smart and strong and are smart and strong at the end, whereas the heroes start out wounded in some way and are healed in the course of the book. JD

This sounds a lot like the sort of thing I'm planning. What I'm trying to avoid though, is making the male MC me. Is this a problem for other writers of Romance (men or women)? Do you project yourself into the lead role, and almost write it as your own fantasy wish fulfilment?

I've noticed something interesting about the two male authors mentioned above - Leigh Greenwood and Tori Carrington. Both of their first names seem a bit androgynous to me (I did know a girl called Leigh). Is this a ploy by the publisher to make it seem as though they could be women? This leads me on to another question, and it's aimed at women who read romantic novels. If you went into a bookshop and picked up a romantic novel with my name on it, would your decision to buy or not be in anyway affected by the fact I'm a man?

veinglory
07-19-2006, 05:44 AM
I couldn't care less. But the perception that some people might is no doubt behind it.

dragonjax
07-19-2006, 06:17 AM
Cathy's first two novels are all in male first-person POV. And I enjoyed them very much. (There's something endearing about a hitman werewolf...)

Sonarbabe
07-19-2006, 06:24 AM
This sounds a lot like the sort of thing I'm planning. What I'm trying to avoid though, is making the male MC me. Is this a problem for other writers of Romance (men or women)? Do you project yourself into the lead role, and almost write it as your own fantasy wish fulfillment?

Good question! Normally, my answer is a resounding, "Heck no!" The most I incorporate is my sense of humor. I'm a goofy woman by nature (just read through any of my posts and you'll see that) and it shows by some of the dialog I put in. However, in one of my current WIPs, I have a female MC that does have some of my attributes.


I've noticed something interesting about the two male authors mentioned above - Leigh Greenwood and Tori Carrington. Both of their first names seem a bit androgynous to me (I did know a girl called Leigh). Is this a ploy by the publisher to make it seem as though they could be women? This leads me on to another question, and it's aimed at women who read romantic novels. If you went into a bookshop and picked up a romantic novel with my name on it, would your decision to buy or not be in anyway affected by the fact I'm a man?

It wouldn't sway me one way or another. If the book sounded interesting, I would buy regardless if you were a man or a woman. Coincidentally, Tori Carrington is a husband and wife team. Tony and Lori Carrington. :) When I bought my first Leigh Greenwood book, I thought it was written by a female as well until I finished it and looked at the back cover and....WOW! Not only was it a man, but it was a man from my home state of North Carolina! Double brownie points for him!!

Just write the best story you can, polish it until it shines like a brand spanking new penny and get it out there. No one will mind that you're a man.

Maprilynne
07-19-2006, 06:32 AM
Wow, awesome responses. Thank you! I feel much more confident now. I think i am just noticing it because my last book (well, two books since there is a sequel too that is finished) are so hero central. Thank you all so much.:)

Maprilynne

JanDarby
07-19-2006, 08:33 PM
Leigh Greenwood and Tori Carrington. Both of their first names seem a bit androgynous to me (I did know a girl called Leigh).

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Tori Carrington is actually a husband-wife team, so there's at least some female authorship going on there. Which isn't to say there are no successful male authors of romance. In the early days of what would be considered relatively modern romances, Jennifer Wilde was the pseudonym for a bestselling male romance author.


Is this a ploy by the publisher to make it seem as though they could be women? This leads me on to another question, and it's aimed at women who read romantic novels. If you went into a bookshop and picked up a romantic novel with my name on it, would your decision to buy or not be in anyway affected by the fact I'm a man?

Yes, I'm sure it's intended to help with the marketing. Sort of the reverse of the JK Rowling thing (where studies have shown that adolescent boys are reluctant to read books written by "girls").

I don't know if there are studies to show that women are unlikely to trust a male author of a romance, but I will confess that I'm unlikely to trust a male author of a romance (as defined by publishers today, and intended to appeal to women). I know I was scarred by a bunch of dead white men writing about the female experience in ways that are just dreadful and depressing and pretty much have nothing in common with my own experience. Remember: The Scarlet Letter, Anna Karenina, Tess of the Durbervilles?

Like Jenny Crusie says, about starting to read romance after earning a Master's in feminist criticism, and finding that these books reflected her own reality far more than the classics she'd been studying: "For the first time, I was reading fiction about women who had sex and then didn't eat arsenic or throw themselves under trains or swim out to the embrace of the sea, women who won on their own terms ... and still got the guy in the end without having to apologize or explain...." (Paradoxa essay)

Anyway, for me, personally, I will admit that I do not trust male authors to really get the nuances of the female experience; and romance (as defined by publishers today) is all about the female experience, in ways that go beyond the basic plot of girl meets boy, girl gets boy. So, no, I wouldn't be likely to buy a romance by an author I knew to be male. But I'm unusual (in lots of ways, but in this case, I mean) in that I'm more aware than the average reader of things like pseudonyms and who's who in the industry.

BTW, if you want to read more about the subject, check out Crusie's joint blog with Bob Mayer. Their collaboration grew out of her early academic interest in writing a book with the male POVs written by a male author and the female POVs written by a female author, which they did in Don't Look Down, and the blog, "He Wrote, She Wrote" talks about the whys and wherefores of the process. It's at crusiemayer.com/blog, and I believe there's more information on the subject at their joint website, crusiemayer.blog. She might even have some links to academic stuff on male and female writing styles, etc.

JD

Cathy C
07-19-2006, 10:32 PM
As dragonjax said, our first two books (I write with a co-author) are male POV. But for the past three books in the same series, our editor preferred third person, with 50/50 POVs. That's fine with me. But Gillhoughly is correct--you REALLY need to wait for a scene or chapter break before switching POVs. It's much more difficult for a reader to follow a scene with head hopping. Yes, some authors manage it, but that's very rare. Even thought I was being very careful in my latest, I found a few places during edits where the POV was unclear.

But, feel free to give it a go, Maprilynne! Everything we try helps us grow as writers. :)

Susan Gable
07-19-2006, 11:50 PM
But Gillhoughly is correct--you REALLY need to wait for a scene or chapter break before switching POVs. It's much more difficult for a reader to follow a scene with head hopping. Yes, some authors manage it, but that's very rare. Even thought I was being very careful in my latest, I found a few places during edits where the POV was unclear.



I'm a SWITCHER! :) I do NOT head-hop, thank you very much. <G> I switch POVs SOMETIMES in the middle of the scene. I am generally very careful to quickly anchor the reader in the "new head" and to stay there.

Personally, there is nothing I hate more than a break to show me that the author has switched POVs but we're staying in the same scene. I don't need a blank line to indicate we're changing POVs if the author does her work correctly.

Back "in the day" headhopping was common and readers had no trouble with it. I do NOT advocate for head-hopping, because I think it prevents the reader from forming as intimate a bond with the character as deep 3rd person POV, handled carefully, does. Headhopping bounces the reader around too much.

But...I don't have a problem with a writer who changes heads in the middle of the scene as long as she anchor me in the new head, and stays THERE! :)

Yes, male romance authors use androgenous or female names for writing romance for marketing purposes. K. N. Casper is the pen name for my friend, Ken Casper, who's been writing for Superromance for a while now. But, he just sold to two new ventures, and believe it or not, they asked him to use his real name, his masculine name. Why? Well, the one venture is Everlasting, which is Harlequin's new line that's patterned sort of off Nicholas Spark's The Notebook. Seems obvious why they want him to use his real name if they're trying to draw in the readers who liked Mr Spark's book. Then, he's got two books for the Harlequin NASCAR series, and he's using his name for that, too. I guess they figure NASCAR fans might be more open-minded about a romance by a man.

Susan G.

Simon Woodhouse
07-20-2006, 12:33 AM
Anyway, for me, personally, I will admit that I do not trust male authors to really get the nuances of the female experience; and romance (as defined by publishers today) is all about the female experience, in ways that go beyond the basic plot of girl meets boy, girl gets boy.

I find this very interesting. I've got several reasons for wanting to have a go at writing a Romance, but one of them is my belief that men and women aren't really all that different when it comes to their emotions. Sure, they show them differently, but if you could strip away all the testosterone-fuelled bravado that a lot of men exhibit, I think you'd find emotions very similar to want women feel with regard to romance.

If I ever do get around to having a crack at a love story, I'm going to base both characters' emotions on what I feel and have felt, when going through the minefield that is forming a relationship. They'll have different behaviours according to broad gender rules, but their emotional responses will be similar. His heart will flutter when he sees her, just the same as hers does when she sees him (that might not be the best example, but I think you know what I mean).

I suppose the test will come when it's written and a woman reads it. I have got a plan though to get around the problem of men writing Romance – I'm just going to put an e at the end of my first name. ;)

JanDarby
07-20-2006, 02:53 AM
It's not so much about the emotions being different. I agree, men can and do feel love and hurt and fear and all sorts of emotions, every bit as deeply as women do. In fact, I vaguely recall a study that, on average, men actually take longer to recover from a broken relationship than women do.

I'm talking about something much more subtle than that, and it's not really something I can explain, much as I'd like to. But it has to do with fantasy and life dreams/goals and what women experience daily and what's important to women and so on. It's not so much that what the characters feel is different; it's more that I'm concerned that a male may not be tapped into what the female readers want from the story. They don't simply want the unfolding of the relationship and for it to have a happy ending; they also want it to unfold in a way that's empowering or reassuring or comforting to the woman reader and that takes into account their experiences as women in a male-dominated world.

If you're serious about pursuing the romance market, you should start by reading a couple hundred of the bestselling romances out there now, and then you might want to take a look at Krentz's non-fiction book, "Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women" about the romance genre and its underpinnings and why it works and the emotional chords it plays on women's emotions. (Some of the stuff in there is perhaps dated, but some of it still applies, or at least is one theory of how it works; I'm not so sure I buy fully into the dangerous alpha male thing, personally, or at least not for ALL romance stories.)

There's also an academic, whose name eludes me at the moment -- Eric something; drat, but I'm bad with names -- who's starting to do some scholarly work on romance and its readership, although I don't know if any of it's published or readily available yet.

Oh, and keep in mind that it's also possible to write a "love story" that's not what would be marketed as a "romance," but would fall under a general mainstream label, and that may be more what you're aiming at.

But, yeah, the E at the end of the name would be good if you're marketing as a romance, to avoid an automatic rejection by readers before they got to the actual story.

JD, who analyzes everything to death.

veinglory
07-20-2006, 03:01 AM
I already read limited romance because I do not relate to heroines as most traditional romance writers write them (fussy, emotional and seeking domination). Until the last 5-6 years they described a very specific way of being a woman that did nothing for me. Fortunately that changed somewhat.

I am sure a man could write a heroine I would love, but maybe that's because my heroines always get described as too 'mannish' and they are based on the totally female 'me'.

IMHO in the end I prefer not to know anything about the writer--I judge the book. If I see writer interviews 9 times out of 10 they seem like rather annoying people whether they are men or women...

Simon Woodhouse
07-20-2006, 03:31 AM
It's not so much that what the characters feel is different; it's more that I'm concerned that a male may not be tapped into what the female readers want from the story. They don't simply want the unfolding of the relationship and for it to have a happy ending; they also want it to unfold in a way that's empowering or reassuring or comforting to the woman reader and that takes into account their experiences as women in a male-dominated world.

That sounds like good advice, I must tuck it away in a part of my brain not used for those strenuous, everyday activities that are such a struggle, i.e. stringing a coherent sentence together, or deciding which foot goes in which hole as I'm putting my underpants on.

Simon/e

Gillhoughly
07-20-2006, 04:32 AM
The H-quin "Bombshell" line has some good reads where the women kick-a&&.

For me the best are written by Rachel Caine who has some very gutsy ladies, but the men are more than able to deal.

But then that's what she does in her Weather Warden series. When I grow up I wanna be one of her characters!

It might be fun to be a Djinn....

NCwriter
07-20-2006, 08:02 AM
If you went into a bookshop and picked up a romantic novel with my name on it, would your decision to buy or not be in anyway affected by the fact I'm a man?


In my case, the fact that the author is clearly a male (with an obvious male name) might actually help to make the sell.

If I saw a romance (not a love story) that was written by a male, I would be curious. Enough so that I would pick up the book, read the back cover, skim the first chapter, and then maybe buy it. Or maybe not. But the point is, I would check the book out, which is the first step to making a sell.

But that’s just me :) and others might be a little leery of a male romance author.

Becky Writes
08-04-2006, 11:55 PM
My 2nd novel was writed about 50/50. The hero was a secondary character in the prequel, and the herione was new. The first novel I wrote entirely in a limited POV (herione), but since the hero was already known to my adience, I felt that I needed to jump in his head.