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thewritemuse
03-13-2005, 08:17 PM
Prompted by the very interesting threads here on male vs female writers and what's at the heart of a romance, I'm curious about another aspect. And please forgive me in advance if I'm not entirely clear--I'm hacking through a head cold and my thought processes aren't as smooth as they could be! <g>

Sometimes, in the middle of an otherwise very good book, I'm ripped out of the flow when a character, whose gender is the opposite of the author's, behaves in a way that seems entirely contrary to their sex. For example, a love scene in the hero's deep POV which is full of flowery images that, IMO (and, of course, this is all MO lol), most men, romantics or not, would never think, let alone say.

As a result, I go to great lengths to make my male characters as 'real' as possible -- in other words, I use several male betas with radically different romantic outlooks to comment on the hero in particular, and to point out areas where, for lack of a better way to describe it, he crosses the line and behaves or speaks too much like a woman in a man's skin.

My curiousity then comes down to this: We can't deny that men and women approach and think about love and sex from very different angles. How much effort do you put into creating those very real separations? How difficult (or not) do you find it to step outside of your gender and *honestly* create a portrait of the opposite sex? And either way, what do you find are the most confusing/hard to capture elements?

Nateskate
03-14-2005, 02:36 AM
Prompted by the very interesting threads here on male vs female writers and what's at the heart of a romance, I'm curious about another aspect. And please forgive me in advance if I'm not entirely clear--I'm hacking through a head cold and my thought processes aren't as smooth as they could be! <g>

Sometimes, in the middle of an otherwise very good book, I'm ripped out of the flow when a character, whose gender is the opposite of the author's, behaves in a way that seems entirely contrary to their sex. For example, a love scene in the hero's deep POV which is full of flowery images that, IMO (and, of course, this is all MO lol), most men, romantics or not, would never think, let alone say.

As a result, I go to great lengths to make my male characters as 'real' as possible -- in other words, I use several male betas with radically different romantic outlooks to comment on the hero in particular, and to point out areas where, for lack of a better way to describe it, he crosses the line and behaves or speaks too much like a woman in a man's skin.

My curiousity then comes down to this: We can't deny that men and women approach and think about love and sex from very different angles. How much effort do you put into creating those very real separations? How difficult (or not) do you find it to step outside of your gender and *honestly* create a portrait of the opposite sex? And either way, what do you find are the most confusing/hard to capture elements?

Hmmm? Once upon a time I was considered gorgeous by the opposite sex. I only knew because they told me so. In the early years of marriage, I thought women thought like men. My wife never had any problems getting me in the mood. And me, I thought if I just came out in my proverbial superman cape, wonder woman would fall into my arms.

Well, there's a certain period where that works, but then you have to deal with life, and bills, and more bills and kids, and pretty soon, I felt like "What's wrong with me? Doesn't my wife think I'm attractive? Heck, all she has to do is come out of the shower in a bathrobe, and superman is ready to fly.

In fact, she might laugh and say, "Get dressed superman." Well, if that happens on a regular basis, a young man is likely to read, "I'm not attractive to my wife."

It forced me to question myself. And being a digger, which I am, I tried to find out what was wrong. Well that led me to learning that men and women are wired differently. If you ask me, we are easier to figure out than women.

But this doesn't mean some guys aren't more naturally romantic. My eldest son stepped out of a romance novel. He's just like that, more prone to writing notes and such. Heck, everytime I walk through the door he asks me how my day was. Me, if I think about it, I'll do something romantic. The problem is that I have to think about it. It's not lack of motivation, its just this realization that what my wife wants from me is different than what I want from her.

I wouldn't care if there were no candles, mood music or anything. But if that's her thing, that's her thing. Does it mean I'm not romantic. Well it doesn't mean I'm not loving, just that I'm not wired like her. I'm willing to be what she wants or needs, but that takes me communicating and finding out what that is, and doing it. My eldest son is that by nature. He is rare. My youngest son is the opposite. He would prefer the cave man days.

Ella
03-14-2005, 03:02 AM
Deb,
I'm of the firm belief that the stereotypes are most of the time just right out to lunch. I've talked to many people over the years about it, and most agree. Quite often the roles are reversed - the men want to be romanced, they're frustrated when they can't talk about their feelings, they have the need to be told they're beautiful. *grin* So many women I've talked to feel they're the man in the relationship - they want more time on their own, they're tired of talking, they just want some damn sex once in a while.

Men and women are PEOPLE, and though our different cultures throughout the world teach us different standards, we're all still human. If you come across writing in a story that seems out of gender context, is it still in the character context? This is more important. In the Romance genre, as with any genre, (or movie, etc.) the author is probably going after characters and situations that are larger than life.

Look at Mulan. She didn't act like no purdy lady, and she kicked some butt. :Soapbox:

thewritemuse
03-14-2005, 08:08 AM
Yes indeed, Nateskate, ITA. As my Silver Anniversary swiftly approaches, I find more and more of my plots incorporate graphic portrayals of just how NOT boring decades of lovemaking with one person can be. Intimacy advances, sex becomes a fine wine, aged all the better for a few bumps in the road. I'm telling ya, youth obsessed world or no, over 40 is a lot more fun than under ever was. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon12.gif

And yep, you're correct, Ella, stereotypes are bull. Women and men do share dual faces in many ways. But there are psychological gender differences that do, for the most part, exist. When approaching any given situation, a man is more likely to begin his evaluation with "I think", and a woman "I feel".

I was talking about capturing those subtle differences. You create a character to the point where you (think you can) crawl in and out of their head at will. You work very hard, as we all do, to make them as real as you possibly can on the page. Then your ms sits, cures a spell, and you come back to read it fresh...

Horror of all horrors, your alpha male is sitting at a poker table with his guy friends, smoking cigars and chatting about the intricacies of their relationships like women over coffee. I'm saying that there are, after all, some things *most* men wouldn't do--with telling their mates how soft and vulnerable a woman makes them feel (usually) being one of those no-nos. LOL

So (and I'm babbling, I fear) I'm wondering if, even when you're trying to be conscious of writing the opposite sex POV, and even when you're deep, *deep* in their heads, if it's impossible, or very near impossible, to keep our own gender from showing.

Then again, maybe I'm just getting too philosophical, and in that case, y'all should feel free to tell me to shut up. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon7.gif

veinglory
03-14-2005, 01:53 PM
Some publishers cater to females who want to read about unbelieavably sensitive men who constantly think in purple metaphors -- and I am sure the reverse is true. That can be a big part of the fantasy the romance book is providing.

Nateskate
03-14-2005, 04:02 PM
The nature vs nurture vs Learned Response:

This may seem the male thing to do, break it down into parts. But I'm a male, so please excuse me.

There are hardwired differences between males and females. I grew up in the days when everything was questioned. Lets put guys in dresses and give girls GI Joes. The point was there was a thinking that everything was learned, that male and female behaviors were all culturally determined by our previous bias.

So, there was experimentation to see if they could undo cultural stereotypes, because they assumed that all of these stereotypes were restrictive and limited people's options.

Over the years, the pendulum has swung back a great deal. And the reason it did was because science began to find ways to measure the human brain that were never available to past generations. What they've found is that there are dramatic differences that take place in the way male and female minds develop from the womb. That impacts our behavior tremendously. So, all of our differences are not simply learned.

However, with that said, culture and nurture can impact us as well. In a sense, other things are learned and not innate. Why is it important to know which is which?

Well, for one, it helps us understand some things. If men expect women to "get over being emotional", they will find that some of the reasons why women get emotional are intrinsic to their nature, and if you dig deeper there is a cause for this that is beneficial to mankind. And the reverse is true, if women expect men to suddenly become super-sensitive, and remember everything, they will be let down, because some of the differences are hardwired.

Hardwired means that's how its supposed to function. It aint broke. With that said, we opperate more out of our will, than simply by reflex if we want to love each other and communicate.

For instance. One "MAJOR" difference between males and females (There are always exceptions) is that many more women blow off stress through talking. There are more connecting fibers between the right and left hemisphere of the female brains. What that means is they are much better at accessing information quickly. So, when a guy comes home from a wedding, and the wife says, "What happened at the wedding." She's wanting to know colors of dressess, who sat with who, what they said. The guy says, "Oh, it went well, and a few small details." Or if he just got off of a half hour call with his mother, "What did she say." "Not much." Well is anything wrong, "Not really".

Yet if I asked my wife about the wedding that she went to and I didn't, she'll give the smallest detail.

That verbal ability is a terribly big advantage when you get into a fight. A woman will access things ten times faster than a man, for the most part...and the guy is like a deer in the headlights.

When's the last time you fixed anything...Oh, yeah, how about before that...

Well, he's looking in a mental file jar in three doors down in the basement of his mind, "Fixed items...Oh yeah". By the time he retrieves that and runs back up stairs and says, "Yeah....I fixed something..." she's three pages ahead of him, on the socks and the hamper, and leaving wet towels...'

So, he runs back down to the file drawer for the next answer, and now flustered, he's trying to retrieve that info.

What happens is he realises he's verbally handcuffed. He's got answers, but he can't keep up with this assault, because, facts or not, she processes verbal information much faster, and although he know's he's not a bad guy, and has a comeback for many of these accusations, he can't verbally express them, and does what men do when they get frustrated..."F*&^( Y%#. that's not blanket-blanking true...I work my *))** off, and...

Well, when he screams, that sets off a whole new set of problems, because her mind is different than a guy mind, and it is interpreted completely different...she stomps off...he says, "How did we go from this party where I thought we were both having fun to I'm the worst guy in the world?"

Nateskate
03-14-2005, 04:04 PM
Some publishers cater to females who want to read about unbelieavably sensitive men who constantly think in purple metaphors -- and I am sure the reverse is true. That can be a big part of the fantasy the romance book is providing.

In real life, women aren't looking for those guys. Those guys are sitting there thinking, "I speak in purple metaphors, and she's dancing with the gorilla in the leather jacket with the chain mail tatoo."

Well, maybe at some point that changes. But I think alot of women want some semi-dangerous, mysterious guy who she can't figure out, cause deep down, she wants to tame a beast. Maybe not all women, but I've seen some beautiful women who've gone for that type.

lynn avendar
03-14-2005, 04:19 PM
In a romance, I want the man to be emotionally strong and the woman to be able to care for herself and feel as if neither one can live without the other. Which sometimes means I have to ask my husband how a man might feel or react to a certain situation. His insights are invaluable. Men do think about more than food, sex and sports.
(Nate, I prefer my super heroes with a mask. That certain air of mystery is more of a turn on than a red cape and blue tights. <g> Have you tried being Zorro?)

veinglory
03-14-2005, 05:02 PM
In real life, women aren't looking for those guys. Those guys are sitting there thinking, "I speak in purple metaphors, and she's dancing with the gorilla in the leather jacket with the chain mail tatoo."

I ma looking for that type, found a few too. Perhaps it's because I'm not beautiful :/

Nateskate
03-14-2005, 09:21 PM
I ma looking for that type, found a few too. Perhaps it's because I'm not beautiful :/

Actually, that's a beautiful thing to say. I've felt deformed, and went through a stage where I was told I was beautiful. Now, if anyone thinks I'm beautiful, they don't bother telling me.

But I remember growing up the outsider kid, and when I was, it was such a wonderful perch to view human nature, the games people played, the insecurities.

Looks come and go, but inner beauty never fades.

Nateskate
03-14-2005, 09:29 PM
In a romance, I want the man to be emotionally strong and the woman to be able to care for herself and feel as if neither one can live without the other. Which sometimes means I have to ask my husband how a man might feel or react to a certain situation. His insights are invaluable. Men do think about more than food, sex and sports.
(Nate, I prefer my super heroes with a mask. That certain air of mystery is more of a turn on than a red cape and blue tights. <g> Have you tried being Zorro?)

The superman thing was just tongue in cheek, obviously. I've been married for twenty five years, so my superman cape was given to the Salvation Army dumpster long ago.

Have I tried being Zorro? Well, obviously; I'm saving the world every other day. And I've done such a good job, noone realizes who I really am. Moving in the shadows has become second nature to me.

Optimus
03-14-2005, 10:32 PM
Have I tried being Zorro? Well, obviously
Hey man, keep the kinky sex stuff to yourself, mkay?

Some things just shouldn't be shared.

Nateskate
03-15-2005, 01:17 AM
Hey man, keep the kinky sex stuff to yourself, mkay?

Some things just shouldn't be shared.

And all from a masked man, who does contortions and climbs walls, pulling on a string. Talk about kinky.