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maestrowork
08-30-2006, 08:06 PM
Or romance that men will read off their wives'/girlfriends' shelves... Is there a market for them? Are there any men who write romance using their real names (and not a female pen name)? Would you buy a romance written by a man? What do you think a "men's romance" entails?

I know there are mainstream "romance" or stories that have strong romantic themes written by men -- Nick Horby, Nicholas Sparks, Nicholas Evans, Arthur Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha), Charles Frazier, etc. Do men have to go the "mainstream" route or is there a stigma for men to write "romance"?

Just wondering.

Heather Lewis
08-30-2006, 10:06 PM
I read a couple of books by Evan Maxwell, which were basically romance and marketed as such AFAIK. I picked them up because I liked the books he'd written in collaboration with his wife (Ann Maxwell, aka Elizabeth Lowell).

I have to admit, I get put off if I pick up a romance with a woman's name on the cover but check the copyright page and see a man's name. Completely baseless and unfair prejudice, I admit! Mind you, if I've already got the book home, I'll read it.

If you want to write romance, I'd say either write under your own name or use a pseudonym and use your initials on the copyright page. I expect a publisher would have a preference, anyway.

Just my two cents...

MelRandall

sunandshadow
08-31-2006, 12:19 AM
I've read a fairly good number of science fiction, fantasy, historical, manga, and gay erotic romances written by men, they're just found in those genres' sections, not in the romance section.

veinglory
08-31-2006, 12:46 AM
IMHO some westerns are men's romance--many of them have a pretty strong romance focus and the same genre requirements to a great extent.

Other than that there is lad lit and of course romance for gay men (romentics etc).

I think men's romance generally a secondary market or the book is marketed under a difference genre like humor...

Cathy C
08-31-2006, 12:50 AM
Or romance that men will read off their wives'/girlfriends' shelves... Is there a market for them? Are there any men who write romance using their real names (and not a female pen name)? Would you buy a romance written by a man? What do you think a "men's romance" entails?

I know there are mainstream "romance" or stories that have strong romantic themes written by men -- Nick Horby, Nicholas Sparks, Nicholas Evans, Arthur Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha), Charles Frazier, etc. Do men have to go the "mainstream" route or is there a stigma for men to write "romance"?

Just wondering.

I think the biggest question here is "what does a men's romance entail?" The name really doesn't matter anymore, I don't think. Bob Mayer (writing with Jenny Crusie), longstanding H/S author Ken Casper, Tony Kariyianni (who only took a female pen name because he co-authors with his wife--Tony + Lori = Tori, and the publisher kept misspelling his very Greek name on the cover! So Kariyianni became Carrington. :ROFL: )

What are important considerations to a male romance reader are entirely different than what a woman wants in the book. A man wants a PLOT that is in addition to the romance (thus cutting out some of the traditional/contemporary romance lines from the mix.) They don't want too much angst because angst frustrates guys. Yes, they often "experience" angst, but it's not something to read for pleasure. They like the hero to be believable . . . to do things that THEY would do and it has to make sense. A man's willingness to "suspend disbelief" isn't as strong as a woman's. If the hero is mechanic, then he should arrive home all grease covered and sweaty. It's a tough job. It's when the guy leaves work and goes STRAIGHT to the heroine's and is clean as a whistle and ready for dinner, the male reader will snort, put down the book and walk away.

There have to be consequences to the "other half" of their life--the half with their male friends. If they meet a girl and start to spend all their time with her . . . well, that weekly pick-up basketball game is going to suffer. Or the every-other-Wednesday poker game. Etc., etc. If it's all wine and roses and no reality biting them in the butt, that's not realistic either.

But if these details are in there, will a WOMAN read it? I say yes. I think women are happy to read something that gives them an insight into the male POV. This is something that the Mayer/Crusie partnership are working on. She writes the female POV, and he writes the male. He comes from an action/thriller background and she comes from romance. You can read more about how it happened here (http://www.crusiemayer.com/story.htm) and it's a HOOT to read, because it's so very REAL! That's when they decided to team up and give the male POV a real go. Their latest, "Don't Look Down" seems to be doing quite well on the shelves.

maestrowork
09-02-2006, 08:35 AM
Great points. And Cathy, I agree on a lot of what you said, since I am a male who likes a good solid story about love and relationship, but I generally don't read genre romance. I do, however, love romantic comedies especially from a male POV ("The Break Up," "How to Lose a Man in 10 Days," etc.) and I do write stories like that and wonder if women would read them, too. The biggest question, would a man pick up a book like that in the first place, or would their wives/gfs recommend to them to read? I think that's a big hurdle for "men's romance."

Anthony Ravenscroft
09-02-2006, 12:23 PM
An excellent set of questions. Problem is, each one's probably worth at least a thread on its own.

I'm going to admit to befuddlement because I'm in the midst of one such.

I think it was Lionel Tiger who wrote the study Men in Groups.

(But let's pause briefly to admire Dr. Tiger's name. Ain't that just effing incredible? And what the heck were his parents thinking? He's a serious anthropologist, anyway, with side-trips into sociology, my ostensible field.)

Reading Tiger, I got introduced to the term homosexual used literally: "one sex." By this usage, an old-fashioned Irish bar (no women allowed) is homosexual, just as a "church women" group.

I've lately found myself writing a homosexual novel. No sex, & the two characters find it amusing that they're very closely bonded on an emotional & intellectual level yet don't have the faintest sexual attraction.

We've had the "buddy story" for a century, yet the potential gayness is sublimated & often firewalled with a huge "eww!" factor, yet Hemingway's explorations of deep-running macho affection are often still cutting-edge as he tries to explore non-sexual intimacy.

I'm biased by my few exposures to "lad lit" because they tend to sound like Queer Eye after far too many Mimosas.

The concept of "male romance" would have to start from some need to explore the Self, & right there smacks into a wall. It's only in the recent past that our culture's been willing to admit that a "proper male" could be completely heterosexual, yet have emotional needs for which he's seeking some sort of positive & uplifting fulfillment, rather than resignation to The Way Things Really Are, which has always struck me as soul-crushing. Women's stories end with a pinnacle (possibly with hope for even greater heights), & men's stories end with finding fulfillment in what's merely good enough.

Dollywagon
09-02-2006, 12:36 PM
I don't think men are into romance as such, because it suspends reality, but I do think they are into realistic relationship books.

I've just finished, The Best a Man Can Get, it was absolutely brilliant. Written from the male POV, it was enlightening, amusing, and most certainly, something both men and women could relate to.

I can empathise with men on the romance front though, because I can't read an unrealistic novel. I just lose it on the second page. There has to be some strong bonds in there that I can relate to, and I think that is what men are looking for.

StoryG27
09-02-2006, 04:51 PM
According to a study by RWA (http://www.storyforu.com/statisticsnew.htm), 22% of romance readers are guys.

Nearly a quarter of one of the largest group of fictions readers out there. . .Yeah, I'd say there's a definite market for them.

maestrowork
09-02-2006, 07:56 PM
The concept of "male romance" would have to start from some need to explore the Self, & right there smacks into a wall. It's only in the recent past that our culture's been willing to admit that a "proper male" could be completely heterosexual, yet have emotional needs for which he's seeking some sort of positive & uplifting fulfillment, rather than resignation to The Way Things Really Are, which has always struck me as soul-crushing. Women's stories end with a pinnacle (possibly with hope for even greater heights), & men's stories end with finding fulfillment in what's merely good enough.


Great point. I guess "men's romance" do exist in many forms. Someone mentioned "western." And I mentioned something like "Cold Mountain" which is a romance in the guise of a historical. I think lad-lit kinda paved the way to address the lack of real romance for men -- Nick Horby, for example. But it's kind of dying now. The whole metrosexual "movement," if you will, also makes it easier for men to acknowledge that it's okay to read and think about "girly" stuff like love.

I am not sure if I agree with the point that "men's stories end with finding fulfillment in what's merely good enough" though. I think men's fiction or romance has the potential to also look for greater heights. But I do think that there are some fundamental wiring differences between men and women. Women tend to go inwards more to look for answers. Men are more about action -- doing something, fixing something, making something work by fixing it. A lot of men's fiction is about fixing things, and I see that "romance" for men follows similar arcs.

I totally agree with the notion that men look for strong, intense bonds. "Band of Brothers" for example, while it's not a "romance," it works within the framework of that "bonding experience" males seek. And that experience extends to romance -- "the girl back home." Most war stories have that undercurrent of pining -- the love letters, etc. A few years ago I heard of a book that printed love letters from soldiers during WWII, Korean War, etc. to their wives/girlfriends and I thought it was a stupendous idea, and certainly extremely touching and romantic, something a guy's guy can relate.

scarletpeaches
09-02-2006, 08:03 PM
Could maestrowork be planning on lending his romantic experience to the printed page? Surely a bestseller! ;)

maestrowork
09-02-2006, 08:06 PM
Yeah, right. :) I am a FICTION writer. :)

I do have a wild imagination.

StoryG27
09-02-2006, 08:08 PM
I do have a wild imagination.
Yes, and you put it to such good use. I know I enjoy it.

;)

maestrowork
09-02-2006, 08:19 PM
Next time, I really have to put more sex in it.

That brings up a good point... I know there is sex in romance. Do you think men's romance would require more, or less, sex? Men, after all, is very sexual. But would that take something away, and make it erotica/porn (because, I am sure, men would only settle for highly stimulating sex scenes)?

scarletpeaches
09-02-2006, 08:29 PM
Speaking of MY love life, there's a thread on tragedies around here somewhere...

But maestro, I can't speak for men what with not being one myself, but when it comes to sex scenes, as long as they're necessary, then fine. Whether men like it graphic and women don't, I think depends on the individual, but there are gender-tendencies.

Perhaps you could write a romance and have different print runs for either gender, as in the Hairy Potato books with child/grown-up covers? (I didn't say 'adult' as that makes it sound porno).

Women - romance, gentle making love, big words
Men - romance, hot sex, with pictures and a free beer?

Cathy C
09-02-2006, 08:37 PM
Interestingly enough . . . the men who read our books (which ARE highly sexual) tend to skip the sex scenes--or so we've heard. I think the reason for this is that in romance, sex tends to drive the romantic plot. It's not sex for sex's sake, but for emotional character development and plot movement. Men like sex in books in an Ian Fleming/Mickey Spillane sort of way . . . where it's fun and friendly and a great physical outlet of plot-related stress--with a woman they like and/or admire and/or love.

But it's tricky to manage this in writing without having the act lose ALL emotion afterward. Since the goal of romance is ROMANCE, things can get muddied without that attention to emotional detail.

Anyone else notice this? How about you guys--are you willing to read sexual scenes that drip with emotions, or do you like the act to be more about stimulation and "good, clean fun?"

Bawdy-Bard
09-02-2006, 09:05 PM
Anyone else notice this? How about you guys--are you willing to read sexual scenes that drip with emotions, or do you like the act to be more about stimulation and "good, clean fun?"

I quite enjoy reading sex scenes that explore emotions as well as those that are driven more by stimulation. In writing, I often try to blend the two angles in the same scene.

Gary
09-02-2006, 09:21 PM
I don't like graphic sex scenes in a love story/romance. I have no problem with erotica by itself, but it just doesn't seem to fit in some stories where emotion is the primary theme. My recently completed novel is a love story, and the sex scenes are rather mild. In fact, my wife said I needed to spice it up if I expected women to read it. I did spice it up some, but felt very uncomfortable doing so.

I agree with the James Bond light hearted approach, but if the description of the bedroom activities gets too heavy, I'm not interested. I'm currently reading a mystery that suddenly dumped a graphic sex scene into the story. I skipped over it, but I don't know if my reaction is typical.

sunandshadow
09-03-2006, 12:48 AM
I'm a woman who prefers my romances to have both plot and hot sex. Pictures, only if they're anime style, I could really do without pictures of porn actors - never my type, always have these stupid facial expressions...

Am I the only one who doesn't understand this "intimacy without sex" concept? I would define intimacy to be having no barriers or guardedness when interacting with another person, but the firm refusal to consider sex as a possibility is inherently a barrier.

veinglory
09-03-2006, 12:57 AM
IMHO they may be skipping the sex because it is the one part of m/f erotic romance that tends to be almost always Fem-POV? That might be a bit much for them?

As for how much--well the market already covers pretty much the whole range ;)

As for intimacy without sex... well an asexual couple may be romantic and intitmate--sex and intimacy are separable although they are not treated that way very often.

Bawdy-Bard
09-03-2006, 01:07 AM
Sex between the characters can be a powerful way to examine the growth of the relationship. Contrasting sex from one point to another in a relationship can be very defining, but I can see where some readers are not comfortable reading this. That's why there are so many sub-genres of romance, eh?

brainstorm77
09-03-2006, 03:47 AM
I don't think i have ever seen a romance novel that was geared towards male reader's...

maestrowork
09-04-2006, 11:17 AM
IMHO they may be skipping the sex because it is the one part of m/f erotic romance that tends to be almost always Fem-POV? That might be a bit much for them?

That's a really good point. If I'm reading a romance and the sex scene is from the F's POV and it's all about emotions, I would probably skip it, too. Not that I'm not interested in knowing what the female character feels while making love -- in a sense, I don't see it as necessary. It would be MORE interesting to me, as a male, to see what is going through the man's mind while he's being intimate with the woman. When a man reads romance (as opposed to erotica or porn), I do think it's less interesting (at least for me) to read about the characters having sex... unless there's something really unusual about it.

dragonjax
09-04-2006, 04:39 PM
In my current WIP, it's in a male (and demonic) perspective, first person. I've found, just 1,700 words in, that I have to be very careful -- I can't let the character be completely true to his nature/voice, because I'm positive that would alienate the readers and would make him an unsympathetic character. It's a very interesting exercise--tailoring the POV voice for the reader--and I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous. I think I found the right balance, though.

There's sex in the story. The opening scene leads to sex. And I'm really trying to keep in mind the audience as well as the character. He's a demon of Lust, so he's all about the sex...but the male incubi have a rule that it's "clients first," so he's, um, very considerate of his clients. It's not about the feelings (not at first; that's later in the story); it's about him doing his job right. Which means making his clients enjoy (and lust for him, and die, cough cough).


But I do think that there are some fundamental wiring differences between men and women. Women tend to go inwards more to look for answers. Men are more about action -- doing something, fixing something, making something work by fixing it. A lot of men's fiction is about fixing things, and I see that "romance" for men follows similar arcs.

This is something that I'm keeping in mind with this book -- that sex scene I mentioned? It gets interrupted by the client's husband...who happens to be possessed by a demon of Wrath. Boom, a fight. And Daun winds up killing the client (as he's supposed to) by the end of the first chapter (not to worry; there's a reason she was marked for Hell). So, all in the first chapter, I've got seduction, sex, a battle, and death. And humor.

Of course, I have no idea if the story/voice is WORKING, but hey, it's a start...

StoryG27
09-04-2006, 05:16 PM
It would be MORE interesting to me, as a male, to see what is going through the man's mind while he's being intimate with the woman.

Hmm, this is interesting because even though I am a woman, I think over half the sex scenes that I've written in various manuscripts are from the male's POV.

To see if I actually had it right, I had my husband as well as a few other select guys read a few scenes. And according to them, I was pretty much right on. There isn't a lot of emotions in my sex scenes, whether I'm writing in the male or female POV. Even if the two people are in love, that's great, I'll show thier emotions throughout the story, but when they are actually doing the deed, it is pretty much concentrated on the sensuality and physical pleasure.